First in-person event since 2020 delivered the goods and then some.
It was the first physical CCIF Meeting since Toronto in 2020. A lot has happened during that time, but there was a sense that, during the 2022 Montreal meeting on June 3, things were starting to return to normal. Nevertheless, COVID-19 safety protocols were still in force, with every attendee receiving a badge with a colour indicator—red, yellow or green—signifying their preference in terms of level of interaction.
CCIF Chairman Paul Prochilo welcomed attendees, stressing that if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to never take our mental or physical health for granted nor the relationships we have with family, friends and colleagues.
First time attendees
Prochilo also extended a warm welcome to the 26% of first-time attendees to CCIF. “It is critical that CCIF expands both its attendance and its reach so we can have a greater impact on supporting the collision repair ecosystem, as we progress on the path to reaching sustainability,” he stated.
Prochilo acknowledged the hard work and effort of the CCIF Steering Committee over the last two and a half years, including retiring members, Daniel Grenier of Mazda Canada; Vince Maida, from Desjardins Insurance and Chelsea Stebner of Parr Auto Body, all of whom were presented awards for their valued service. Warren Bennet, from Desjardins General Insurance Group, was also acknowledged for his valued contributions to the industry over the last 40 years, with all those in attendance wishing him a very happy retirement.
Taking a holistic look at the industry, Prochilo took a minute to explain CCIF’s strategy and the key role in which it can play. “Our goals are to work on supporting the industry in reaching sustainability through profitability for all our stakeholders,” he stated.
Prochilo remarked that given the complexity of vehicles today (a trend which is only expected to accelerate), it is CCIF’s duty to continue supporting repairers and technicians to ensure they have the right information available to perform efficient and quality repairs, each and every time. Prochilo explained that a key objective is the ability for repairers and stakeholders to take that information and be able to apply it to their business right away.
Yet in order to ensure the right information, resources and support is available, means that CCIF members also need to provide feedback and input to ensure the association continues to meet the needs of the collision repair industry.
Since the onset of COVID-19, CCIF has been actively focused on delivering a series of webinars—topics covering everything from managing supply chain disruptions, vendor relationships, to cloud-based estimating and dent/hail repair efficiency.
Prochilo also provided an update on subcommittee initiatives that focus around five core topics:
- Education and Training Strategy
- Independent Collision Repairers
- Industry Roadmap
- OE Engagement
Through each of these initiatives, the objective is to provide timely and relevant information to help repairers and industry stakeholders succeed in each of these areas.
While it was great to see so many people in person again at CCIF Montreal, the economic environment continues to present its own series of challenges and potential opportunities. For one, the vehicle fleet continues to age. Prochilo noted that the average age of a vehicle on Canadian roads is now approaching 12 years, which represents a significant opportunity for collision repairers to capture post warranty vehicles; (those typically seven years or older). Prochilo also explained that while labour shortages, parts disruptions and inflation pressures are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, other trends, such as the rise in OEM insurer programs (like Tesla is currently offering in California) could change the game when it comes to claims, repair processes and severity. There’s also the issue of government legislation, including the current federal mandate that all new vehicles sold in Canada be electric by 2035. While it’s a lot of information to take in, being prepared through insightful analysis, robust relationships and collaboration, will help ensure that the collision industry in Canada, is well-positioned for success in the future.
Darren Slind; Co-Founder and Managing Director of Clarify Group, provided a high-level overview of the automotive industry and some key trends to watch. Based on analysis conducted in partnership with AIA Canada, Clarify Group identified that at the end of 2020, there were approximately 6,400 businesses across the country that generated revenue related to collision repair and two thirds of those were considered collision repair centres. Additionally, at that time, the sector employed around 24,000 people coast-to-coast and annually, generated revenues of around $7 billion. What’s also interesting is that around two thirds of collision centres are located in Ontario and Quebec, and the latter province boasts the highest penetration of banner networks in the country.
Consolidation, which has been a key driver in the industry for the last two decades, continues, and presently, around three in 10 collision repair centres are affiliated with a national banner in some shape or form. Like many other sectors of the economy, collision repair currently faces a number of headwinds. These include inflation, rising fuel costs, increasing vehicle complexity and government mandates for electric vehicles. On the subject of fuel costs, a study by Leger determined that 54% of Canadians are driving less. And if gas prices remain persistently high, this is a trend that might continue.
Countering this argument however; is the fact more people are choosing to travel again, both for business and pleasure, plus with pent-up demand around holidays, there is a good chance that kilometres driven will continue to increase, following a similar pattern witnessed in 2021. More vehicles on the road means potentially more business for collision repairers, though here, Slind took a moment to discuss the relationship between collision shops and insurers. Pressure on margins is an ongoing concern for repairers, especially in view of rising vehicle complexity; inflation, labour, training and equipment requirements. Skills shortages continue to be an ongoing issue, impacting some regions of Canada more than others, leading to some radical rethinking in ways to attract talent (overseas recruitment drives are one example). Meanwhile the current focus on vehicle electrification and government mandates toward EV adoption presents further industry pressure going forward. Positive developments however, include growing government awareness around Right to Repair legislation on both sides of the border and studies that show that the vast majority of consumers want to have a say in who fixes their vehicle.
Shifting gears a little, Marc-Olivier Legentil from Bell Nordic took to the stage, discussing the Toyota Kata scientific thinking principle as identified by researcher Mike Rother. Toyota’s meteoric rise from a peddler of small, quirky cars and trucks into the world’s number one automaker has been well documented, but what got the company there was its approach to organizational practice, specifically a doctrine of continuous, incremental improvement with an emphasis on minimizing wastage through lean processes. Legentil explained that Kata, at its essence, is a routine practiced so frequently that it becomes a skill—one that is second nature—such as riding a bicycle or driving a car. He noted that this concept of scientific thinking and deliberate practice, is extremely effective at problem solving and can be applied to any organization, including your collision repair business.
Charles Aubry, from Progi, discussed the importance of trusted industry partnerships and relationships, which have become even more emphasized during this current period of economic uncertainty. Aubry said it was important for collision centres to find tools and solutions in which they can help their partners and clients. He cited examples of finding better production practices and cost control, including realizing major cost savings on paint. Others include working with your key stakeholders to solve common issues such as staffing and labour shortages, as well as parts supplies, equipment and training, including ADAS calibrations.
Speaking of ADAS, Jean-Luc Sauriol, Director of Business Development (Canada) for asTech powered by Repairify, delivered a very interesting session in which he delved into diagnostics and ADAS calibration including both dynamic and static testing requirements. Sauriol explained that it was important to understand that today, it is the vehicle itself that drives the repair, not the shop, the OEM or the insurer.
Sauriol stressed the importance of ensuring scanning software is up-to-date and how organizations like Repairify, can prove an invaluable resource, filling in the gaps in the diagnostic and calibration proccess by offering solutions like the asTech Duo that provide both aftermarket and OE scans, as well as specific calibration data via tools like adasThink which integrate with a shop’s estimating software. Sauriol explained that it was critical to follow OEM requirements when performing ADAS calibrations, otherwise incorrect testing procedures may result. These include simple things such as ensuring the fuel tank is full, tire pressures are set correctly, along with wheel alignment and that sensors are clean and properly positioned.
“You need to abide by the [OEM] procedures, otherwise you’re de-calibrating and the vehicle won’t perform properly.”
Rounding out the day, was a session from Didier Dubois of HRM Group. Dubois discussed the contentious issue of labour shortages and that given currently low levels of unemployment, as well as changing job priorities for many—organizations need to take new and innovative approaches. This means ensuring they both attract and retain talent, who in many cases, have far different job expectations today than they did even just a few years ago. Some examples include not only providing competitive compensation packages, but also offering ongoing investment, education and training, flexible work hours and a safe, inclusive and collaborative work environment.