Driven Brands Focuses on Fleets Amid Shared-Car Rise
In a widely quoted interview with The Wall Street Journal, General Motors President Dan Ammann said the auto industry will “see more change in the next five years than there’s been in the last 50.” He wasn’t kidding, and it’s incredible to think of the many changes that will result from a mass decline in private automobile ownership.
Just think about everything that’s driven, dictated and/or influenced by the automobile in contemporary American society: urban design, the layout of shopping centers, where people live and how they get to work and how household budgets are structured. Americans famously spend an approximate average of $10,000 per year on their love affair/addiction to cars.
So, OK, case made: Americans love and need cars, but that’s all set to change thanks to the inevitable rise of autonomous cars (closer than you think) and cars on demand through the likes of Uber and Lyft, which is definitely already here and rapidly attracting investment from established oil and auto stalwarts.
Just this week, Saudi Arabia announced a $3.5 billion investment in Uber as it seeks to diversify its economy in an era of permanently (as the current thinking goes) oil prices. Six months ago, GM invested $500 million in Lyft, which is basically Uber but without the brand cachet.
In a world where everything related to the automobile may change, Driven Brands—the aggressively expanding owner of Maaco, Meineke, Merlin, Econo Lube, CARSTAR and more—has shifted its focus toward fleet business with its announcement of a big multi-brand partnership with FedEx, owner of one of the nation’s largest vehicle fleets.
Driven now has more than 1,000 body shops participating in its fleet partnership, but Artemio Garza and Frank Petrane, chief brand officer at Driven Brands and VP of Driven Fleet, respectively, see this partnership as a big sign of the times and of what’s coming down the pike.
“It’s a value proposition for Maaco, and we hope to duplicate throughout the brands,” Petrane said.
Garza added that FedEx is just one of four fleet pillars Driven is focusing on, including fleet management companies, centralized fleets like Uber and GrubHub, and private/government fleets.
Beyond just adding massive clients to its stable of brands, the collision repair industry is unique in its seasonality, meaning such fleet accounts allow individual operators to schedule fleet work for down times of the week, month or calendar year. That means greater profits and flexibility, while a large network of brands works together to prepare for a future where you and I don’t own cars, but instead summon whatever we want at the click of a button.