CRA Marketing Innovation Explored – USA
Written by Ed Attanasio
Dan Dewater, owner of Hangtown Body Shop and A1 Collision & Bumper Center in Placerville, CA, isn’t afraid to operate a little outside of the box.
He’s received a fair amount of acclaim and media exposure for many of his businesses over the years, and his latest brainchild, the Rideshare Collision Network (RCN), has certainly created quite a buzz.
Last year, Dewater started RCN to provide special collision repair services to rideshare drivers, including those driving for companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, among others.
Dewater created the startup when an Uber driver brought his damaged vehicle into his facility.
“Repairing rideshare vehicles and dealing with rideshare vehicle insurance carriers requires different processes that separate rideshare drivers, as opposed to the average body shop customer,” he said. “We use a lot of proven social media marketing techniques to target rideshare drivers in your shop’s community that are actively searching for body shop solutions, and deliver those leads to our member shops.”
To make the entire process easier for rideshare drivers, Dewater designed a free online estimate system to streamline the process. It allows them to submit information about their car accident while notifying its service management team.
“That way, the shop can quickly follow up and close the deal right there,” Dewater said. “We have a lead tracking system, where both shop managers and owners can monitor active leads without slipping through the cracks.”
Dewater has been reaching out to body shops to join his network and then targeting rideshare drivers nationwide through an app and a website, he said.
“Right now, we are currently looking for independently owned collision repair companies all over the United States to join us, because if we can all work together, there’s always power in numbers,” Dewater said. “Uber and Lyft aren’t going anywhere any time soon and rideshare drivers have become a huge part of the market. Some shops have tried to capture this business, but no one is doing on this scale.”
Dewater knows the market is massive. Uber currently has 91 million monthly active riders, and 4 million drivers in 63 countries, according to its website. Coverage-wise, Uber is much larger than Lyft, which has 700,000 drivers in North America.
Dewater earmarked $10,000 from his shops’ marketing budget to promote RCN, after doing some research and quantifying the rideshare industry.
“I didn’t even know what rideshare was, so I Googled it and then decided right then that I was going to pursue this,” he said. “How can I market this thing, and that’s when it all began.
“RCN member shops are a group of independent shop owners that know what it’s like to be self-employed and not get the best service, and discounts from bigger more powerful companies,” Dewater said. “We do not have any DRPs, so that we are not obligated to work with any insurance company or give them any discounts. For this reason, we’re able to offer you better service with Uber/Lyft approved rental and deductible assistance, in many cases.”
The mission is for any rideshare driver to find a body shop within the network using RCN’s website and to have greater access to repairs, Dewater said.
“We are in the process of partnering with a fleet rental company to offer the drivers an alternate automobile in order to keep them working while the vehicle is in the body shop,” he said. “Whenever a rideshare driver gets into an accident, they can find us easily through our website and social media.
“We enable our RCN shops to make changes easily on their own or by contacting our support team which prides itself on being highly responsive! Time is money in this business, and even more so when it comes to ridesharing.”
Dewater is the third owner of Hangtown Body Shop, which has been voted No. 1 in Placerville by the local newspaper several times. Bob Williams Sr. opened the shop back in 1975. Bob Williams Jr. took over from his dad and Dewater assumed ownership in 2012.
He learned the trade from the Regional Occupational Program at Ponderosa, CA, and credits one of its teachers, Chuck Brault, for much of his success.
Dewater accumulated a fair amount of car repair experience in his high school years, working at a local body shop summers and Christmas break.
One of his first repairs occurred when he crashed in a relative’s Datsun B210. But, by working fast and using his rapidly developing skills, Dewater was able to save the day. He fell in love with the collision repair industry right then and there, and as they say—the rest is history.
Credit to AutoBodyNews.