Another record attendance demonstrated how far CCIF has come since the very first meeting in Alberta’s capital.
CCIF 2017 Edmonton was rather symbolic. Not only did registrations break the 400 mark—a total of 451 had signed up by Friday morning (September 29), the city was also the very same place where the very first CCIF meeting was held back in 1999. At that time, just 60 people were present, which demonstrated just how far the Canadian Collision Industry Forum has come in a relatively short time.
As always there was a jam-packed agenda. It began with a cocktail reception and networking event on Thursday, September 28 and continued the following morning with a full day of information sessions.
Kicking things off; was Michael Anderson, Senior Director, Decision Sciences and Analytical Development, Audatex. In what proved to be a fascinating session, Anderson delved into some of the key issues currently impacting the industry, namely in the increase in severity per vehicle and rising claims costs. “Severity is going up,” he said and “this is on the radar of every insurance company.”
Anderson noted that another trend was that the boom in new vehicle sales over the last few years has seen a swell in demand for pickup trucks and sport utilities. He cited the fact that because the average repair costs for a pickup are approximately $560 more than a passenger car, pickup sales are a big reason why severity is increasing. He also notes that the growing complexity of late-model vehicles, driven by Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations is also another major factor. Using a popular SUV as an example, he pointed out that compared to its 2010 counterpart, the 2015 model boasted 23 additional parts in the front grille/fascia assembly alone, which equates to $1,301 in additional part dollars.
He also mentioned that some headlight assemblies can cost well in excess of $5-$6,000 a piece and that one particular sedan, which retails for around $55,000 would cost over $32,000 in repairs for a fairly minor front end shunt. Anderson did note that OEM part price matching has helped to alleviate repair costs somewhat, but the industry is approaching a tipping point where in numerous cases it could become simply unfeasible to fix the vehicle unless insurance premiums rise significantly, which could severely undermine the auto industry’s sales volumes and profitability overall.
Fix it right
I-CAR Instructor and St. Joseph High School Collision Shop program teacher Stefano Liessi; gave an informative and entertaining session on some of the issues facing today’s collision repairers and how to effectively train the next generation to ensure they’re able to fix the vehicles of tomorrow. He compared the technology of a 1975 Fiat 124 Spyder (a shop class project at St Joseph) with its modern day equivalent. The difference between the two essentially amounted to the difference between a 1960s farm tractor and the Space Shuttle; such is the advancement of automotive technology in recent years thanks to items such as collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control and other features.
He noted that because cars today are so complex, it is absolutely imperative the OEM repair procedure is followed properly. He referred to a demonstration at the SEMA Show a few years ago where an OEM presented two crashed examples of a single SUV model. One of them had been in a previous collision and was repaired well but not to exact OEM standards, while the other had no prior accident damage. The end result showed the previously repair vehicle would have put the driver in hospital, while in the other, they would have walked away.
It was a sobering example, but it proved there’s a reason why exact OEM procedures must be followed when it comes to structural repairs. Liessi also noted that beyond high school, the entire collision repair industry had a collective responsibility to train the next generation of technicians. “It can’t stop with me, it’s up to the shops and the technicians,” he said.
Paul Prochilo, of Simplicity Car Care in Toronto, moderated a panel discussion on some of the key issues impact the industry. The panel included a number of service providers, Michel Caron, Audatex, Michel Gagnon, Mitchell and Jean-Luc Sauriol, All-Data, as well as a number of repairers, Bill Davidge, CARSTAR and Andy Raposo, Fix Auto, plus OEM repesentatives, Scott Wideman (Volkswagen) and Paul Stella (Toyota).
The panel discussed the hot topic of pre and post-vehicle scanning and how to combat some of the challenges facing the industry, such as the costs associated with scanning as well as the access to required information. There was a general consensus that collision industry vendors, shops, insurance carriers and OEMs need to work together and share data to ensure the vehicle is properly repaired.
Andrew Shepherd, Senior Director, Industry Programs, AIA Canada and Executive Director, I-CAR Canada took a break from discussion training and certification to talk about the future of collision repair. Shepherd talked about potential disruptions facing the industry such as connected cars and autonomous vehicles and how these will impact the collision repair industry in both the short and long-term. He noted that in the future, besides a significant reduction in vehicle collisions, shop customers might no longer be individuals but fleets or complete businesses.
France Daviault, Senior Director, Stakeholder Relations, AIA Canada; discussed Addressing the Labour Gap and provided insight into some of the initiatives underway at AIA to help tackle this significant challenge. She also discussed the need to identify what skills are required, the tools and equipment that will be needed and how to communicate the importance of the skilled trades to society at large.
Annabelle Cormack of Cormack Recruitment discussed retention strategies, namely how to keep good people and that doing so requires an organization taking a collective approach to hiring and keeping staff, which extends to not only employees, but suppliers and other stakeholders as well.
Patrice Marcil, Director, North American Learning and Development, Axalta Coating Systems delivered a fascinating insight into the thoughts and views of students surveyed about careers in the collision repair trade and why they chose to pursue them. Marcil noted that momentum continues to build with the Collision Industry Education Connection Project and that survey information will continue to prove invaluable as the industry collectively moves forward in helping to train and mentor the next generation of collision repair professionals.