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ABRN's 2015 Top Shop: Chantilly Auto Body Group

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 - 09:00
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Setting the stage for the next decade

With an infusion of youthful talent and more sites on the horizon, Chantilly seems well poised to continue building on a successful model. However, as it looks outward, the business is taking a renewed examination of its inner workings and expectations. While celebrating its 25th anniversary, Chantilly is putting together a development plan to cover the next 10 years and beyond.

Ellison says one goal in that plan will involve creating more uniform operations across sites while upgrading repair processes. Chantilly shops share the same management and paint systems and most vendors. But each shop also is a bit unique, especially in management styles since some locations maintained their existing managers and employees after they were brought into the Chantilly fold.

Procedures too can vary slightly from one location to another. Khatib reports Chantilly has started moving toward more homogeneous procedures, but notes there is still plenty of work to do. That might include working in a mix of lean procedures.

Ten years after much of the industry has embraced lean, Chantilly may seem a bit behind the times (especially for a Top Shop), but Khatib is quick to point out that shops in the DC region have been more reluctant to go lean. Some, he notes, adopted lean programs then returned to their previous procedures when they didn't get the results they wanted.

"Lean is fine, but you still have to have great quality and customer service," says Khatib. Chantilly is working with its paint vendor and other consultants to determine the best course for it to take.

Moving forward, Chantilly also is looking at bringing all of its locations under a single brand name. Currently, each site has its own identity. The five other location names are: Centreville Collision Center, Fairfax Collision Center, Metro Collision Center, Quantico Collision Center and Rick's Auto Body.

Chantilly took this route, in the case of new shops, to create shared identity for shops and their communities and to build on the familiarity of pre-existing businesses. "It also drives Internet searches to these shops since customers tend to search by location," says Ellison.

He says this could all change as Chantilly grows larger (10 locations or more) when a single brand could offer other benefits. This factor might become particularly important in the future as Chantilly goes head-to-head with much larger MSOs.

Ellison says part of the 10 year plan will involve surviving in that environment. While Chantilly competes with these large entities, Ellison says it also will look to emulate them. "We'll talk about getting investors of our own," he says.

Even if Chantilly decides to grow this large, don't expect them to be a mirror image of other MSOs. Being different is in their blood. They became a Top Shop by taking a road less traveled, and they're not looking to step off.

When the new Chantilly site was opened in 200 it was the first of its kind in the DC region, with 30,000 sq. ft. of space and drive-in estimating.


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