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ENDING ON A HIGH

The aftermarket industry braved many challenges this year, and Sylvain Seguin of Fix Network is optimistic that 2022 holds a great deal of promise.

year 2021 (and the year preceding it) will never be forgotten. Not only did these two years bring the world to a standstill, but they will be permanently etched in the memories of the ones who lived through this tumultuous time as the time that they brought humanity on its knees. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted everyone, including us in the aftermarket business, and reminded everyone never to take things for granted.

In many ways, the pandemic forced us to adapt quickly and rethink new ways to ensure our survival and protect our franchisees from possible economic fallout. Aftermarket operations was considered an essential business during these times and the need therefore was to remain agile in our operations and be able to spot opportunities at all times.

Power of the Network

This was also an important time when the power of the franchise network was recognized. Body shops aligned with franchises were able to count on critical support such as marketing, technical, training and certifi cation that they receive from their franchise organizations. Over the past two years, when the pandemic was at its peak, our shops invested wisely in having their teams trained as well as upgrading their existing infrastructure. In a way, they are preparing their shops and their teams to meet the customer demand as life returns slowly to normal.

Over the past two years, our training centres in Canada witnessed a higher demand for training from our franchise partners to teach their technicians how to repair the most modern vehicles. Through a mix of virtual and in-person training, we have successfully ensured that our technicians are on top of their game.

“This was also an important time when the power of the franchise network was recognized. Body shops aligned with franchises were able to count on critical support such as marketing, technical, training and certification.”

Recognizing Excellence

This critical time also saw us working closely with industry bodies to create recognition for our partners. Our collaboration with the Automotive Industries Association (AIA) and I-CAR led to an increase in our franchise partners being accredited. At the same time, we maintained and consolidated our relationship with OEMs to better understand and better position ourselves with OEM training and certification.

Adapting to Innovations

This year, the aftermarket industry, in general, did a tremendous job of keeping up with the rapid technological innovations taking place in the automotive sector. As newer technologies such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and electric vehicles become increasingly popular in Canada, we are training our technicians how to repair these sophisticated machines. Scanning and calibration were some of our focus areas in 2021. On top of educating ourselves on the newest technologies and techniques, we shared our knowledge and provided training with owners-operators as well as for the majority of the Canadian assurance partners.

Though electric vehicles may take some time to reach parity with internal combustion engines in terms of sales and adoption, they will continue to present interesting opportunities and questions for the industry. The challenge for the aftermarket industry would be if it is really prepared to repair these sophisticated machines. In case of a collision, electric vehicles demand a completely di† erent approach than just tending to dent repair.

As with non-electric vehicles, we keep in mind the safety of our customers and their passengers while repairing electric vehicles. This is one of the issues that we took an early lead on and identifi ed quickly how and why our franchise partners need to be trained without delay. Collision repair and maintenance of electric vehicles therefore was one of the most popular elements of our training curricula.

Reinforcing Partnerships

I am a big believer of in-person industry events and conferences since these important activities allow us to learn from the best in the industry and clinch partnerships that benefi t our franchisees. Last month, despite a reduced on-site attendance, SEMA, held in Las Vegas, showed the world how the aftermarket industry and related businesses have been progressing. I am confi dent that other industry initiatives in the coming months, especially the Canadian Collision Industry Forum, in Toronto in February 2022, will continue that momentum.

In retrospect, 2021 tested the industry thoroughly. Despite the many challenges and uncertainties, we had a good number of positive defi ning moments that celebrated the resilience of the industry. I can say that things can only go forward from here on. Here’s to a great 2022.

 

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