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National Fix Network Conference in Quebec City

Autosphere » Collision » National Fix Network Conference in Quebec City
Sylvain Séguin, President of the Fix Canada Network, expertly coordinated the activities.
The excellent performance of the workshops was highlighted during the gala evening.
Shops with the best customer experience were rewarded for their efforts.
The president's favorites from each banner were presented on stage.
NAPA/CMAX and Axalta celebrated ten years of partnership with Fix Auto at the Gala and donated $10,000 to the RMHC foundation.
Au total, 115 564 dollars ont été versés au Manoir Ronald McDonald.
Several high quality conferences followed one another during the two days of the Congress.
Professor Hop Lipson explained how artificial intelligence will revolutionize the transportation industry.
Sportsman and speaker Étienne Boulay drew a parallel between his career and the role of managers as leaders and team leaders.
At the supplier showcase, Jean-Philippe Lapointe and Ian Jacob from 3M were waiting for the delegates with a smile.
Isabelle Courteau and Stéphanie Massé of Autosphere mentor Jamie Neuman-Rodrigues and Edward D'Mello of Réseau Fix.
Verney Gervais, from Réseau Fix, presented the advantages of adding the NOVUS Vitres d'auto service to the shop.
Francis Leblanc and John Perron presented the new technological solutions of Hunter Engineering.
The Axalta team celebrated 10 years of collaboration with the Fix Network through CMAX.
The CMAX team was on hand to talk about the materials and equipment available to body shops.
The SATA team took advantage of the exhibition to present its new products.
Ray Moubarak and Charles Aoun of CamAuto presented their paintless dent removal systems.
Ryan Mandell of Mitchell explained how several technological changes would transform the automotive aftermarket.
Agence Cartier presented the participants with solutions to boost their visibility on the Internet.
Debbie McCarthy of the Fix Network highlighted the various human resource issues.
A panel of industry experts concluded the meeting by discussing best practices in recruitment and retention of workers.
Photos Michel Beaunoyer and Stéphanie Massé

On September 29 and 30, the National Fix Network Conference was held in Quebec City, bringing together 450 people.

Under the theme One Family, One Vision, this national conference of the Fix Network took place in the presence of Speedy, Novus Vitres, Fix Auto and Carrossier ProColor shop owners, suppliers and members of the management.

Sylvain Séguin, newly appointed President of Fix Network Canada, gave a brilliant welcome to the participants while Steve Leal, President of the Global Fix Network, was unable to attend as he was unable to leave Florida due to Hurricane Ian.

Reassuring the audience of the well-being of Mr. Leal and his family, Mr. Seguin opened the conference by thanking the participants for attending and congratulating them on their resilience over the past two years. “I recognize your efforts during this difficult time,” he said. “We have invested our time and talents, together, to protect our businesses and our customers.”

The president of the Fix Network went on to mention the importance of taking advantage of the supplier showcase organized during the event to meet with automotive equipment and service specialists who can help them advance their businesses. Noting that production capacity was now more related to human resources than to the number of square feet on the shop floor, Mr. Seguin said that 2022 nevertheless showed an increase in volumes and revenues, indicating a good catch-up with pre-pandemic results.

“The priorities of the development strategy revolve around technology and human resources. We already have a contextual challenge with out-of-stock auto parts, but in terms of talent development, the network offers access to three training centers in Canada to help our shops repair the cars of tomorrow.” Séguin also noted that the network can support shops by working with them to develop action plans to sustain their performance and increase profitability.

Relevant conferences

In addition to having the opportunity to meet, participants attended very relevant conferences, led by leading experts. Opening the session, mechanical engineering professor Hod Lipson explained how artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting the automotive ecosystem today. “The exponential acceleration of computer capabilities is combining with machine learning to lead us to fully autonomous cars,” he predicts. This is already impacting the entire transportation sector, and the acceleration of data sharing, especially between connected vehicles, will result in a situation where in ten years it will be more dangerous to get behind the wheel than to leave the driving to an autonomous car.” According to this expert, removing the human factor from the equation should significantly reduce the 23,076 road fatalities recorded each week worldwide.

For automotive aftermarket shops, the autonomous car will obviously change the game. “There will be autonomous vehicles on the road for both short and long distances for transporting people and goods,” the expert announces. The number of kilometers driven will also increase significantly. This means more demand for mechanical maintenance. On the other hand, a reduction in the number of collisions can be expected. However, there will still be accidents and the effects of extreme weather conditions. There will be work for the shops, but the nature of it will change.”

Nicky Woerner de la firme OEConnection a parlé de la plateforme RepairLogic développée par son organisation dont l’objectif est de simplifier les estimations de dommages en carrosserie. Digital repair planning is based on access to vehicle data, the construction of a well-documented file and the sharing of information between the workshop, its customer and the insurer.

“The platform is also intended to be a guide to OEM processes associated with the repair and clearly identify the parts needed to reduce extras and delays,” Woerner details.

The issue of body shop certification was later addressed by Holly Switzer Pitts of the Certified Repair Network. The program offered by this firm allows body shops to obtain certification from 12 manufacturers, representing 70% of the vehicles currently on our roads. One of its advantages is to reassure the consumer who will be able to entrust his car to the workshop knowing that the repair will be done with the appropriate equipment and by technicians trained in the car manufacturers’ processes. The approach of a certification covering several manufacturers also allows the purchase of equipment recognized by all the brands covered, which standardizes the investment.

Ryan Mandell of Mitchell offered an interesting presentation where he explained that the increase in vehicle values had a positive impact on repair rates and the reduction of total loss units. The conditions are right for repair,” he says. However, the complexity of collision repairs is accelerating. We’re seeing an increase in the number of parts and an increasing number of fault codes found in the electronic scan during diagnosis. Moreover, this step of validating the electronic systems before the work is done will become mandatory if it is not already the case. It’s a safety issue to make sure all systems are working properly when we hand the vehicle over to the customer, especially with advanced driver assistance systems.”

According to Mandell, one of the biggest disruptors in the automotive industry will be the advent of electric vehicles. “Deliveries are only a fraction of the market, but we are seeing a surge in demand in various regions, including British Columbia and Quebec. What’s more, more than half of Canadians are now considering an electric or hybrid vehicle for their next purchase.”

As this expert mentions, we are starting to see NEVs in body shops’ service bays. He finds that repair costs for this type of vehicle are 33% higher than for a gasoline-powered vehicle, 44% higher for Teslas. Repairing electric vehicles requires specific training and equipment,” he says. Plus, the repair cycle is longer. The question is how the shop will adapt when more than 10 percent of its volumes are electric.”

Master Google

Jonathan Lemay and Thierry Lessard of Agence Cartier took the floor to explain how to use the Internet to attract more customers to aftermarket shops. The two specialists pointed out that 95% of consumers now consult the Internet before making a purchase.

They detailed the optimization of three tools to achieve better results: the company’s website, its company listing on Google and paid advertising on the search engine.

A large part of the positive results is based on the management of the interaction with customers who comment on the company profile and determine the famous Google stars. “Potential customers will systematically validate the shop’s reputation by taking a look at those stars and the type of reviews posted,” the duo explained. As a business you need to generate reviews, but also make sure you respond to the comments, whether they are positive or not.”

By the way, an element often searched by Internet users is the opening hours of businesses, an up-to-date element that should appear on the Google listing of the business.

The human resources challenge

As Sylvain Séguin mentioned at the outset, attracting and retaining shop floor personnel remains a major challenge. Debbie McCarthy, Global Vice President of Human Resources for the Fix Network, spoke to this issue and presented some interesting solutions. She began by presenting a perspective on employment in this country, but also elsewhere in the world. “When you look outside our region for talent, you have to realize that some regions, like Latin America, for example, have significantly higher unemployment rates. The same is true within our borders. It might indeed be more interesting to look within our borders before considering recruiting abroad.”

Ms. McCarthy also mentioned that ethnic groups, women and First Nations people are also over-represented in the unemployment statistics. “Are you looking in the right place in your recruitment efforts? And also, do you have a good corporate image to offer these candidates?” Indeed the expert explained that workers’ expectations have changed significantly and that employers must offer much more than a salary if they want to retain their workers and attract new ones. “Opportunities for advancement, the quality of the relationship with the supervisor or even the flexibility of the hours now come into play.” She offers a trick to validate this corporate image: conduct an anonymous survey within the team so that everyone can give their opinion on working conditions and how they could be improved.

The subject of human resources was addressed by a panel of industry representatives, moderated by Michel Charbonneau, Vice-President of Uni-Select. Ms. McCarthy joined Jean-François Champagne, Paul Clipsham, Jefferson Iza, Claudia Morgillo and Daryll O’Keefe for this discussion. In summary, the panelists noted that the automotive aftermarket labor shortage is not new and in fact affects all sectors of the economy. With an average age of 57 for workshop technicians, the question of succession is at the heart of managers’ concerns.

The discussion also focused on the importance of making ourselves more attractive, but also of working directly in schools and training centers to explain how the automotive professions offer great careers.

As Jean-François Champagne, President of AIA Canada, pointed out, work is also continuing at the governmental level to make them aware of the situation. He also invited shop managers to invite their local politicians to visit their facilities to better understand the importance of this industry that employs more people in Canada than agriculture.

According to the panelists, surveying employees is a good idea and preparing a hiring plan, including working with Fix Network resources, will allow the company to better understand its needs and target its search.

There is an opportunity to join our efforts in regional committees,” says Daryll O’Keefe, Regional Vice President of the Fix Network. We can also facilitate the integration of these new resources through our three training centers across Canada.”

The speaker and sportsman Étienne Boulay concluded the conferences by drawing a parallel between his career as a high level athlete and that of an entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of leadership and teamwork.

To get some fresh air and discover the beauties of Quebec City, the Fix Network organized a great discovery walk. A very nice way to whet the appetite for the gala evening that concluded the Congress on the evening of September 30.

This Gala was a moment of celebration, but also of generosity as $115,564 was raised, notably by a brilliant animation of the auction by Michel Charbonneau, for the benefit of Ronald McDonald Houses.

The Réseau Fix team also wanted to highlight the excellence of the workshops during the evening. The best performing workshops, customer experiences and the President’s Awards for each of the four banners highlighted the excellence of these Canadian companies.

President’s Awards

  • Fix Auto St-Catharines
  • Carrossier ProColor Sainte-Sophie
  • Speedy Auto Service Sarnia
  • NOVUS Glass Regina

Performance Awards

  • Fix Auto West Shore
  • Fix Auto Calgary Deerfoot
  • Fix Auto St-Catharines
  • Fix Auto Terrebonne
  • Fix Auto Fredericton
  • ProColor Collision Wheaton Red Deer
  • ProColor Collision Georgetown
  • Carrossier ProColor Saint-Michel
  • Speedy Auto Service Edmonton Millwoods
  • Speedy Auto Service Sudbury
  • Service Auto Speedy Châteauguay
  • Speedy Auto Service Lower Sackville
  • NOVUS Glass Regina
  • NOVUS Glass St Thomas
  • NOVUS Vitres Sherbrooke Est
  • NOVUS Glass Summerside

Customer Experience Awards

  • Fix Auto Burnaby South
  • Fix Auto Calgary Centre
  • Fix Auto St Catharines
  • Fix Auto Charny
  • Fix Auto Gander
  • ProColor Collision Calgary Central
  • ProColor Collision North York
  • Carrossier ProColor Val-Bélair
  • Speedy Auto Service Edmonton Millwoods
  • Speedy Auto Service St Thomas
  • Service Auto Speedy Châteauguay
  • Speedy Auto Service Fredericton
  • NOVUS Glass Aldergrove
  • NOVUS Glass Sarnia
  • NOVUS Vitres Sherbrooke Est
  • NOVUS Glass Halifax Bayer’s Lake

 

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