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Maaco Calls Twitter Sales Program 'Game-Changer'

Encouraged by 'Twestimates' despite modest beginning

Maaco, the collision repair and auto painting chain, offers some perspective to brands looking to monetize their Twitter presences. And it perhaps supplies traditional companies—that yet have taken social media seriously—a glimmer of hope. All told, it's pretty clear that this Rome won't be built in a day, either.

The firm last Thursday launched an intriguing effort called "Twestimates," which since has brought in more than 40 leads generated for its 420 locations. Maaco told Adweek that 200 consumers tweeted to the brand during the program's first day and states that Twestimates has garnered 20,000 impressions in the last five days. The company said it's seen an uptick in positive social media sentiment and has gotten nice feedback from franchisees about the program's early days impact. 

It's the first time the brand's remote sales division has given out estimates. Culver City, Calif.-based The Pitch Agency created the concept as part of a larger "Maacover" rebranding campaign that debuted on April 22. A piece of the multichannel appeal is to make Maaco more social.

An important thing to consider before poopooing Twestimates' initial results—40 leads hardly knocks marketing folks off their feet—is that Maaco's tickets run in the hundreds of dollars. In addition, the brand says it has put no dedicated ads behind Twestimates and has a miniscule Twitter presence (1,350 followers) currently to leverage. Also, the automotive-repair niche hardly screams "Twitter users," generally speaking.

At the same time, Chris Furse, Maaco vp and CMO, doesn't sound overwhelmed by such challenges and sees a lot of promise in the early numbers, characterizing the initiative as a "game-changer." Furse said his team "certainly didn't expect to be fielding hundeds of tweets and giving out 10 full-blown Twestimates in the first 24 hours."

Here's how the idea operates. The brand's social team encourages Twitter users to tweet pictures of their damaged vehicles to @maacover—a handle created for Twestimates. A fix-it-up estimate is then tweeted back within 20-odd minutes along with a 10 percent off coupon.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based retailer, which is part of automotive giant Driven Brands, has 10 dedicated Twestimate staffers—five in a call center near headquarters to cover the Eastern Time Zone and the other five in Los Angeles to handle that region. Interestingly, the staffers were brought over from regular call center duties because of their social media aptitude.

A Maaco rep said the brand would hire additional help for the Twitter team if Twestimates continues its upward trajectory. But whether banged-up cars evolve into a truly noteworthy part of the social commerce marketplace probably remains to be seen.

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