Dealing with the relentless march of technology and ensuring shops are properly equipped to repair the latest vehicles was front and centre in Vancouver.
Sunny skies greeted collision industry professionals from both Canada and the U.S. as they gathered at the Marriott Pinnacle in Downtown Vancouver for the third CCIF conference of 2016.
Registration again surpassed previous levels, clearly showing that CCIF has become the de facto premium forum of its kind in North America. As always the event kicked off with a cocktail reception on September 29, with the conference itself taking place the following day.
A variety of topics were covered this year and kicking things off was Larry Jefferies, President of Jefferies Consulting. Jefferies provided an update on the First Notice of Loss (FNOL) Assignment, that’s made tremendous inroads since it was first discussed in December 2014. He noted that while the concept of getting a number of private insurance carriers to work with collision repairers in creating a standardized FNOL assignment and criteria might seem a bit foreign in a market like B.C. where government insurance still accounts for the majority of repairs, the efficiencies driven by the assignment are already being felt. Staff training is being simplified, keys-to-keys time has been reduced by one day, labour costs have declined by about 10 percent, while Net Promoter Scores for insurers have climbed about 10 percent. Jefferies acknowledged that while there are still inroads to be made, the results so far are proving very encouraging.
Accreditation and recognition
Accreditation is currently a hot industry topic and presenting three different perspectives were Leanne Jefferies, Vice President, Assured Performance Network, regarding developments in the rapidly expanding Certified Collision Care program, while David Ribeiro, Coordinator, Leadership Programs, Automotive Retailers Association (ARA) in B.C. provided an update on some of the initiatives the association is taking to promote repair standards and consumer awareness regarding collision repairs as well as better training and recruitment. Andrew Shepherd, Senior Director, Industry Programs, AIA Canada, provided an update on the Canadian Collision Industry Accreditation Program and its objective for the country’s collision repairers.
Terry Daniels, Managing Director, Impact Auto Auctions had some fascinating insight into the market of used vehicles, including the current impact of Canada/U.S. exchange rates on supply and demand. Daniels also talked about the importance of customer engagement and providing strategies that help deliver superior service and engagement, such as Impact’s new tow app and standardized buying/selling processes that are consistent across the country.
Leanne Jefferies provided an update on the CCIF Skills program including the progress of this year’s winners in Auto Body Repair and Car Painting, who will be heading to the World Finals in Abu Dhabi in 2017, as well as new additions to the program, such as the expansion in aluminum repair, adding training to the Alberta program and increased use of the virtual painting booth.
Jefferies also gave the audience insight to the Haiti Arise project and that funding to build the technical school and deliver a self-sustaining collision repair program is approximately half way there.
Andrew Shepherd delivered an update on I-CAR Canada programs. Shepherd discussed the I-CAR Canada Professional Development Program and that Platinum individual—the core of the program—enables each technician to complete courses that cover the competencies of their role in the shop. Shepherd also said that until more shops become Gold Class certified, it’s likely there won’t be any more general courses. Instead, I-CAR is shifting its focus to a more “demand driven,” program, where by courses will be provided based on requests. “If your shop gives us a call about how to set up training, we will work from that,” said Shepherd. He also stressed the need to update skills regularly, especially since in Canada, there is still no establish standard requiring technicians to do so. “Under the current regulations, if you got your welding certification 25 years ago, it’s still valid. I don’t buy that.”
Patrice Marcil, Learning & Development Director, North America for Axalta Coating Systems, talked about the Education-Industry Connection and how changes in vehicle construction and technology are driving the need to ensure todays and tomorrows technicians are capable of repairing these vehicles to pre collision condition. Marcil provided an update from CCIF Montreal and asked how collectively, as an industry we can contribute to the development of the collision repair workforce, whether its through trade schools, employment programs and retention strategies to attract and keep the best and brightest young apprentices.
A big draw was the panel discussion, which focused on pre and post repair scanning of vehicles. Moderated by CCIF Chairman Joe Carvalho, and featuring Derek Chao, AutoMind Collision, Chris Hancock from ICBC, Rick Hatswell of Craftsman Collision, Steve Leal of Fix Auto and Tony Sutera-Sardo from RSA, the discussion covered everything from whether facilities need to pre and post scan every vehicle that comes in, regardless of the level of damage, to proper training practices for shop staff and whether scanning should be conducted in house, or out sourced to third parties. There was also a collective agreement that when it comes to scanning, the idea of creating a standardized FNOL process will help level the playing field and provide an industry wide solution.