Conversation with Hannah Whitesides
August 06, 2021
We recently had a conversation with Hannah Whitesides, VP of Marketing, to learn more about her role, thoughts on the new Maaco brand campaign and the future of marketing.
How did your career first begin?
My first job was in broadcast media, working as a news producer at a local television station. I was there for several years before transitioning into a corporate marketing role at a local health and wellness supermarket, where I honed my marketing skills. I then joined Driven Brands, where I have been for the past seven years in varying marketing leadership roles. I started as a Marketing Manager for Meineke and then led marketing for CARSTAR, where I spent five years building a premier North American marketing team and strategy from the ground up.
How long have you been with Maaco?
I joined the Maaco family a little over a year ago, right in the heart of the pandemic. Over the past year, we have worked tremendously hard to build out a leading marketing team and drive retail business to support our Maaco owners, when they needed us most. I am incredibly proud of the work we have done over the past year and the marketing team we have created at Maaco.
What does your role entail as Vice President of Marketing?
My job is to be a guardian and advocate of the Maaco brand. This means getting the word out about who we are and what we can do for consumers. It also means supporting our network of owners, where we aim to continuously drive new business to our 400+ locations across the U.S. and Canada.
What is the best part about your job?
The best part of my job is supporting our franchisees and helping drive new business to their locations. I love supporting our franchise family and being a part of this iconic brand that has been around for almost 50 years. It’s fulfilling to see that our marketing efforts are impactful on a North American scale which includes so many family-run businesses. Nothing is more rewarding or motivating than that.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
At times, my job can be difficult because I must constantly prioritize what initiatives will move the business forward. Marketing is a mountain that covers everything from digital advertising to our online reputation to traditional media and much more. Because there are so many pieces to this pie, I have to constantly re-evaluate the data and make decisions on what is best for the brand. While it may sound complex, every day is different which is also what I enjoy most.
How has marketing changed this past year?
As with many industries, the automotive industry has seen a shift in consumer behavior due to fewer vehicles on the road, more people working remotely and many families spending more time at home. To adapt, we created and continue to innovate our Online Estimator Tool – a tool that gives customers a preliminary estimate based on information they have provided about their vehicle. During the pandemic, many people were not comfortable with coming in–person for an initial estimate. Thanks to this tool, customers could get an estimate from the comfort and safety of their home. Since then, we have continued to update the tool and I believe it is here for the long haul.
What can you tell us about the new Maaco brand campaign?
We took some time last year to reflect on who we are as a brand and make sure we are properly communicating our core values to customers. We did this by conducting extensive brand positioning research and used focus groups to test different creative concepts. The “Upside of Uh-Ohs” campaign resonated most with customers, because it leans into Maaco’s roots and encourages customers to embrace all of life’s uh-ohs. It also provides a fresh and memorable take on our iconic slogan, “Uh-Oh Better Get Maaco.”
What can a body shop owner do right now to help improve their local marketing?
A great way for a body shop owner to improve their local marketing is to pay attention to their online reputation and customer service. According to consumer research, most people look at a shop’s online reviews before deciding on where to get their vehicle fixed. Shops can improve their ratings by developing an exceptional customer experience and encouraging customers to leave positive reviews. It is also important for body shop owners to be involved in their community by either joining a local business organization or giving back to local charities. Not only will this help improve their communities, but it will also give people a positive experience with the brand.
What is your proudest moment at Maaco?
When I joined the Maaco team, the pandemic had just begun, the brand was going through a redevelopment phase and new leadership was put into place. Even though the odds were against us, we accomplished a significant number of achievements in 2020. Not only did we drive the business forward, but we also provided support to our owners through a very tough time. Like many businesses, we are still recovering from the pandemic but we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. I am extremely proud to be a part of this brand and the positive changes we have helped create, in partnership with our franchisees. It’s exciting as 2022 is our 50th anniversary, so we are gearing up for this milestone celebration!
How do you spend your free time?
I became a newlywed last year and spent most of my time navigating the obstacles associated with planning a wedding during a pandemic. During that time, my husband and I also purchased a home near the lake. Now, we love being out on the lake in our boat. I also enjoy spending time with our dog, Wade, traveling and being with family and friends.