The South Central Ontario CAA (CAASCO) announced plans to enter into the garage business with plans to begin acquiring existing facilities and making them into club-owned, CAA repair facilities.
Building on the success of the 35 current AAA/CAA-branded repair facilities in North America, with three currently in Canada, CAASCO will begin this year to seek out existing facilities that the organization would like to purchase outright and run as Club Owned Repair Facilities (CORF).
Brian Holmes, division manager for automotive services for CAASCO in Thornhill, Ont. said CAASCO’s goal is to acquire a facility in South Central Ontario by the first quarter of this year and to open an additional three in the next 12-16 months. The strategy is for CAASCO to look for established repair facilities in areas that have a high level of CAA members, either independent repair facilities or CAA Approved Auto Repair Service (AARS) shops. The potential shops for acquisition by CAASCO will have to meet a set of strict criteria.
Holmes said the criteria include curb-side appeal, are financially successful, have strong ties to the community and have excellent business credentials. Once a potential shop has been identified, the CAASCO will then go through a set of on-site visits which will introduce the idea of club-owned repair to the facility’s staff and owners. Becoming a CORF business will mean that the CAASCO will own the facility and the staff will become CAA employees. The owner will continue to work for CAA over a contracted period of time to help continue to grow the business and help in the transition of the facility to a CORF business, Holmes continued.
Holmes added a CORF repair shop will have several advantages, including the ability to tap into the CAA’s large membership base.
“What we have experienced with the club-owned repair business with CAA and with AAA is a very high member usage of the business,” Holmes continued. “It ranges between 80-90 per cent of members use the service.”
These club-own facilities will fall under a new business unit of the CAASCO that will be in charge of running the for-profit businesses. Holmes added existing AARS shops should not fee threatened by this new business venture.
“We are going to be helping those facilities that do good-quality repairs because the reality is we cannot do all the repairs in any given area,” he said. “The feedback we have been getting from our network (of existing AARS shops) is that it will help improve their exposure to the community.”