How Steve Grimshaw Is Reinventing The Collision Repair Experience

Steve Grimshaw was asked to join Caliber Collision as chief executive officer in September 2009. In six short years Mr. Grimshaw and his team have grown the company from 68 service centers and $280 million in revenue to 340 service centers and $1.4 billion in revenue.

Needless to say, increasing the size of a company five fold in six years is challenging. Early on, Grimshaw recognized the company’s aggressive growth objectives required a different way of thinking. He understood that much of what had been successful in getting Caliber to $280 million needed to evolve.

Restoring Customers to the Rhythm of Their Lives

Fixing the car does not fix everything. If Caliber team members focused solely on collision repair, it would create a myriad of customer service issues. Caliber understands when customers visit a service center their days and lives have been significantly disrupted. No one gets out of bed in the morning and thinks to themselves, “Today, I’m going to get in a wreck and visit an auto repair center. I can’t wait!”

Caliber used to view themselves as “in the car fixing business.” Today, they understand they are in the “customer service business,” but just happen to fix cars. The single mom who is now unable to pick up her child from school or the college student worried his car won’t be fixed in time to head off to Florida for spring break are just as much Caliber’s concern as the smashed up Ford Expedition in the parking lot.

Caliber knows their purpose is to restore customers to the rhythm of their lives. With this purpose top-of-mind, team members spend as much time restoring the customer as they do repairing the car. They treat people the way they want to be treated. It may sound pretty simple, but simple does not mean easy.

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Thoughtful Training: A Focus on the “Why”

How do you retrain a culture? How do you rewire years of thinking?

CEOs must determine their non-negotiables and be clear in communicating them. For Grimshaw, the customer had to become the center of the Caliber universe. That meant retraining the entire employee base.

Caliber is willing to give their team members everything they need to be successful at their job, especially as it relates to customer service. In order to clearly communicate Caliber’s new focus, Grimshaw and his team went through a comprehensive strategic planning process and created the purpose, vision, and mission for Caliber moving forward.  They also defined a very clear strategy and developed a 38-page playbook for the field. Their playbook, called “The Owner’s Manual,” ensures every center consistently delivers on Caliber’s purpose. The playbook is summarized in 10 careful steps that, when executed correctly, will virtually guarantee the shop operates at the top of the industry.

In some cases a team member may not buy in to the customer centric mindset. Leaders know clarity brings focus and reveals which employees are all in, half in, or on their way out. With clear and simple training and communication, Caliber’s intent was to provide every employee an opportunity to buy in and opt in to the new way.

Grimshaw is a big believer in explaining the “why” behind what they do. He doesn’t believe buy in can be achieved if people are told what to do; they need to understand the purpose and reasons behind an action. As a result, Caliber has developed a robust training program. Caliber invests over $10 million annually to ensure every team member is trained adequately and appropriately.

  • Camp Caliber is a one-day training session for all new team members.
  • Owner’s Manual Intensive (OMI) is a two-day training program to ingest the Caliber culture and playbook.
  • Platinum is a three-day training course for managers and above.
  • Discover Leadership is a four-day training course for senior leadership.

Team Engagement 1

An Inspiring Vision

Caliber’s vision is to become the company that improves the image of the collision repair experience. Because of their emphasis on customer service, Caliber has achieved an 83.5% company-wide Net Promoter Score (NPS), which far exceeds the industry standard. Caliber commits to ensuring every customer is completely satisfied during every step of the collision repair experience.

Before Caliber began investing deeply in their people no one thought it was possible to achieve a 100% Net Promoter Score. Now Caliber has a service center in Los Angeles that has maintained a perfect, 100% Net Promoter Score for the last 16 months.  If fact, they have eight centers with a perfect 100% NPS through September 2015. Amazing things can happen when everyone is on the same page working toward the same goal!

caliber collision

Leading a Unified Team

Grimshaw sees himself as responsible for creating disciples. However, he knows he can only invest consistently in the 25 or so individuals he spends the most time with. This is why he is committed to spending time with the Caliber leadership team.

Grimshaw believes the more his team is together and aligned, the more everyone else in the company will be united and running toward the same goals. There is shared accountability at Caliber because team members care about one another. The more disconnected a team feels, the less they care about one another or what happens to the company.

Another key contributor to the unity among Caliber team members is Grimshaw’s “No Chirping” rule. If an associate wants to vent about another team member, he stops the associate and asks if they have talked directly to the one they are concerned about. If not, he asks them to go work it out one-on-one. If they are unable to work it out, Grimshaw will make himself available. Grimshaw is a strong advocate of open, candid, and honest conversations.

Acquisitions Have Their Challenges

Caliber has been on an aggressive acquisition pace over the last six years. In fact, 70% of their growth under Grimshaw’s leadership has been acquisition related. One of their challenges has been getting the newly acquired companies and their employee base on the same page as Caliber. As a result, attrition has been a significant issue for the organization.

Never one to step down from a challenge, Grimshaw has set a personal goal to see Caliber make it to the Top 100 Places to Work in the United States. He has started a mentoring program, invested additional resources into their integration team, and has a separate team available several weeks after the acquisition as a resource to the new team members. They also have a newly developed center manager training program that every new leader in the field attends. Grimshaw views this as an opportunity to continue to make Caliber the employer of choice for their industry.

Not only is Caliber investing in its team members, their team members are making investments in their communities. Team members (with no mandate from corporate) have taken the initiative to begin investing in food banks locally across the country. This year they contributed 2.3 million meals to local food banks across the U.S. Additionally, the local service centers have donated time outside of work hours to fix wrecked and unusable vehicles with a purpose of getting them back to pre-accident condition. The centers donated over 25 vehicles in 2015 to families of military and first responders in need of reliable transportation.

Something great is happening at Caliber! The service centers are getting better at their jobs. Customers are happier and getting back to their lives.  Team members are investing in their local communities and the company is growing like crazy!

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