Some 375 members of the Réseau Fix family met on May 11 and 12 in Mont-Tremblant for the large regional 2023 gathering under the theme Evolution.
These two days of sharing and discovery were a unique opportunity for the Fix Auto and Carrossiers ProColor franchised auto body repairers, as well as for the Speedy and NOVUS auto glass workshops, to reconnect.
The conferences and workshops organised for the occasion enabled participants from all over Quebec to learn more about the progress of the programmes offered by the Fix Network.
It is no coincidence that “evolution” was the theme of this regional meeting, one of four that will take place across Canada. Opening the conference, André Cabana, Senior Vice President of the Fix Canada Network, explained that evolution was a series of changes, sometimes barely perceptible, but often, as in the automotive field, undergone in an accelerated manner.
“One of the most important changes we are seeing right now is the transfer of knowledge to the new generation,” he said. “I am delighted to see the strong presence of young people in the room today, which is a sign that the next generation is coming.”
Founded in 1992, the Fix Network is also a story of constant evolution as it now has some 2,000 locations worldwide carrying out 4.6 million repairs.
In addition, the establishment of three training centres in Canada and the introduction of Speedy Auto Service and NOVUS Auto Glass marked the beginning of a diversification for the Network.
“Of course evolution is disruptive,” Cabana said, “but look at all the things the network has put in place year after year to get you going.”
Sonia Bouthillette, Vice President of Operations, then took the microphone to detail that this evolution was also felt in repair techniques and the arrival of electric and hybrid vehicles in the network’s workshops. “It is estimated that by 2030, 60% of vehicles sold in Canada will be electric,” she illustrated, noting that repair costs for these new generation cars are significantly higher.
Bouthillette also pointed out that vehicle technology is evolving faster than ever before.
The Vice President of Operations also reminded delegates that the Fix Network has several tools to help shop managers ensure profitability. This is particularly important as demand is currently outstripping the capacity of the network’s body shops to repair the vehicles entrusted to them.
A changing relationship
Robert Girardin, Richard Lavoie and Jonathan Pilon then took the stage to explain how relationships with insurers have evolved in recent years. “Insurers are listening to us and want to work with us,” said Pilon. “More than 100 meetings with insurers in Canada have resulted in nine hourly rate increases and several other gains. Momentum is on the side of auto body repairers right now, and we’re feeling a major wind of change from the insurers. We need to better communicate the positive impact of these negotiations to our franchisees.”
Mr. Lavoie supported this observation by adding that the trend was towards an increase in the average cost of repairs and that the adjustments and bonuses did not indeed affect only the hourly rate. He mentioned, for example, that some insurers are reducing or dropping volume discounts on parts or will financially recognise workshops that are certified by the manufacturers.
“Our job is to get recognition for the investments our workshops make in equipment and training,” said Girardin. “And we regularly have small victories that show that these efforts are being recognised.”
A firm commitment
Taking the floor after this interesting background, Sylvain Séguin, President of the Fix Canada Network, said that the evolution of the network must also be supported by better communications with franchisees.
“My commitment is to be as transparent as possible, to tell you where we are going and how it will benefit you.”
Noting that the Canadian collision market is facing a number of issues, from succession to production capacity, Séguin added that it is difficult for auto body repairers to deliver volumes in an environment where they lack the human resources to do so. According to him, one approach, in addition to supporting workshops in developing their efficiency, will be to look at production capacity in a more regional way, thus offering more flexibility in service delivery. “Distributing the work by developing an ecosystem is the future.”
It should be noted that during the presentations for Fix Auto and Carrossiers ProColor franchisees, specialized meetings were held for Service auto Speedy and NOVUS Glass franchisees.
After a presentation by Jean-François Champagne, President of AIA Canada, a panel on hiring foreign workers opened the eyes of many participants to the possibility of tapping into this resource if they cannot find the workers they need locally.
A popular trade show
As part of this regional gathering, a supplier exhibition allowed participants to discover the latest in supplies, equipment and services.