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ABRN's 2015 Top Shop: Chantilly Auto Body Group

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 09:00
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Along the way, Chantilly evolved into another partnership. Ellison retired three years ago and sold his shares in the three shops he helped start back to Khatib and his stepson Ryan Roberts. Khatib and Roberts own three of the business's current six locations together.

Today, the business repairs nearly 1000 vehicles each month, with an average $2100 ticket, generating $38 million in annual revenue. They're looking to grow. Currently, Chantilly is in discussions to purchase several more shops, with plans to consider further additions down the road.

Taking it to the streets

As Chantilly expands, it plans to continue leveraging its reputation for quality and service coupled with long-standing aggressive efforts to pursue business.   

"Our way of marketing from day one was to go out and get work," explains Rob Ellison, nephew of Bob and Chantilly's Manager of Business Development. That means continual bidding for rental repairs and fleet work, along with targeting new vehicle dealers. Since its beginning, Chantilly has approached nearby dealers who don't own shops and made arrangements to help service their customers.

Currently the business employs three staff members who work full time in the service lanes of three dealers, with two more working with multiple dealers in auto parks and another in Chantilly who makes regular visits to several nearby dealers. These employees work with dealer staffs, recommending work for customers and then scheduling it. "The dealers love it," says Ellison. "It provides a service they couldn't otherwise offer to their customers."

This formula provides the business with an additional 150-200 cars each month, or roughly 15-20 percent of its business. Beyond that, it also helps Chantilly's efforts to gain OEM certifications, which typically require a dealer sponsor. To date, Chantilly's is certified to work on Volkswagen, Nissan, Infiniti, Chrysler and GM vehicles. They're also certified to perform aluminum work on the new Ford F-150.

Of particular note, Volkswagen requested the business receive their certification because Chantilly's was already servicing their fleet at VW's nearby headquarters.

All these certifications don't come cheap since they require extensive training and specific, often expensive, equipment. Ellison notes that his business invested $125,000 in equipment just to earn VW certification, although that same investment can be used to earn certifications through other manufacturers.

The investment also is well worth the cost since it provides Chantilly with a direct path to dealer work and immediate access to highly sought after OEM training, "where the industry is heading," says Ellison.

Chantilly is equally active searching for work in other areas. The business keeps one person on staff to concentrate on insurer relations. That employee regularly visits over 700 local insurance agents dropping off cards, brochures and sometimes gift packages to continually remind these agents the shop wants their business.

Technician Oscar Landriel stands in front of an aluminum workstation. Chantilly is certified to work on the new Ford F150, one of numerous OEM certifications it holds. Technicians like C.J. Kim all carry I-CAR platinum status.
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