2023 CSN Conference Sets the Standard Once Again

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Photos Huw Evans

Deerhurst Resort provides the perfect opportunity to connect, learn, celebrate and unplug.

From September 21-23, CSN Collision Centres hosted its 2023 Conference. Billed as “Unplugged,” the event took place at the prestigious Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario.

For three days, CSN collision centre owners and their teams, gathered with corporate staff for networking opportunities, listening to some very insightful content from a host of guest speakers, as well as celebrating recognition for outstanding service and commitment to the industry.

The event began on September 21st with three different workshops, one on ESG with Gabe Morley from Dekkra, along with Recruitment and Retention strategy and tactics with Jason Seguya from CSN’s corporate team. Rounding out the trio was an OE Panel discussion hosted by Leann Jefferies, from OE Connection/Certified Collision Care. These were followed by a vendor showcase where attendees got a chance to meet with product and service representatives as well as network and conduct business.

Understanding diversity

On Friday, September 22, the program kicked off with a keynote address from Risha Grant, entitled Diversity Done Differently. Grant, who is a well-known speaker, best-selling author, and recognized expert on diversity practices, cut through some of the misconceptions around the term, noting that in many cases organizations “don’t have diversity problems, they have people problems.”

Grant discussed the age-old issue of unconscious bias and how it often gets in the way of progress and success. “We have to get rid of the BS (Bias Synapse],” declared Grant, which includes pre-conceived beliefs about certain people which can range from race to religious beliefs to age. “We are interconnected as people,” she said arguing that the way we react or behave towards others is often a result of deep-rooted ideals that were often told to us as children or based on past, personal experiences.

These personal biases can be major obstacles to achieving personal and professional success, which is why it’s so important to be intentional and build authentic, long-lasting relationships.

Michel Falcon, Hospitality Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Brasa! Peruvian Kitchen discussed Customer Experience and Employee Engagement practices. Working in the hospitality sector, Falcon stressed the need for all of us to be a little more “hospitable” in our business dealings—and said that too often, not enough importance is placed on our staff— the people that make things happen. “80% of the focus should be on our team and 20% on the customer,” said Falcon.

A different approach to engagement

Falcon provided the audience with a little background on his own career path, noting that in 2007, he started working for 1-800 Got Junk, where the emphasis on employee engagement and growth has been critical to success. Falcon later applied these principles to his work in the restaurant business—a sector that traditionally has a very high labour turnover. “My industry is known for exploiting and stepping on people,” explained Falcon, “and I wanted to try something different.”

The result? In an industry where turnover typically runs at 100-150%, Falcon has seen just 17% at his restaurant locations. The secret? Creating a People First culture where employee engagement is the cornerstone of the entire business. That’s why Falcon’s recruitment initiatives focus on delivering an experience, not pitching products. Today, Brasa! receives on average, 1000 applications per month, using original, engaging video content and interview questions that are consistently reviewed.

Traditionally, most businesses define Profit and Loss by dollars and cents, but Falcon explained that in reality, a bigger definition of business health and success is frequently determined by employee happiness and retention, which results in superior customer service and reputation.

Success in sustainability

Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) is currently a hot topic in the world of business, as many organizations look to embrace sustainability practices. Peter Kalantzis and Tara Willoughby from Aviva provided an overview of the way the insurance giant has been adopting ESG practices and what this means for the collision centres it works with. Kalantzis talked about ways in which shops can reduce their carbon footprint and improve efficiency such as adopting LED lighting, more energy efficient tools, promoting repair versus replace practices and if replacement is the only option, ways in which shops source more “green” parts—such as OEM components available from automotive recyclers—instead of newly manufactured parts.

The benefits, said Kalantzis, include higher profit margins for collision centres by adopting a repair-first strategy since more of the repair is focused on labour and less on parts costs. He said that reduced cycle times and better customer satisfaction, are additional benefits. Plus, by adopting recycled parts, delivery times are reduced, as is the overall carbon footprint, since the part does not need to be manufactured, and the life of an existing part is further extended.

Rising high

A truly inspiring session came from Patrick Anderson, considered to be the greatest wheelchair basketball player in the history of the sport. A multiple Olympic medalist, Anderson, as part of the national Canadian team won back-to-back gold medals in 2000 and 2004, while also winning a silver medal in 2008 and another gold in 2012—where he led the tournament in points scoring.

Anderson’s story is one of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity. In 1989, at the age of nine, Anderson had his legs crushed in an accident by a car piloted by a drunk driver, resulting in both being amputated below the knees. In 1990 he discovered wheelchair basketball and from there, it was onward and upward.

He said that while we should all set big goals and strive for improvement each and every day in our lives, while never giving up, it was important to lean on each other and focus on being in the moment—making the most of the circumstances we find ourselves in.

The final keynote session of the day came from recording artist Peter Katz, who intertwined his presentation with some of his own music and songs. Like many of us, Katz has found his life-changing direction and learning and doing things he never thought possible. Through it all, he said one of the most important and valuable things we have as humans is deep, meaningful relationships. He asked the audience to focus on a moment where they were proud and felt impactful on the lives of others and that by asking and looking at what connects us as people, we in turn become more connected—in other words essentially becoming what we celebrate in life.

Recognizing achievement

The awards gala on Friday evening provided a chance for the gathered attendees to celebrate the achievements of fellow collision centre operators, including awards for sales growth in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, as well as awards for Customer Experience, Rookie of the year, 10 and 20-year anniversaries as well as the prestigious shop of the year, which went to CSN Dundas Valley.

The gala evening also provided an opportunity to celebrate CSN’s long-time partnership with Make-a-Wish Canada, and a cheque for $25,000 was presented on stage—highlighting the significant efforts both parties have made to grant very special wishes to children in need.

Outside the awards, content, workshop and networking sessions, attendees also had the chance to take in some of the activities available at the Deerhurst Resort, including a golf tournament, tree-top hiking and boating excursions.

In summary, it was a fantastic event and the weather could not have been more perfect. Autosphere was grateful to be a part of it and we look forward to the next CSN Conference in 2024.


Categories : Collision, Commercial
Tags : CSN, Event


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