By Mike Davey
Toronto, Ontario -- November 5, 2015 -- Executive Vision focuses on discussions with key players in the auto claims economy and the auto industry, their views on the present industry and their vision for the future. In this feature, our guest is Norm Angrove, Director, PPG Automotive Refinish Canada. Angrove has more than 35 years experience in the automotive aftermarket, and has occupied various positions at PPG, including National Business Development Manager and Senior Manager-Values Programs.
Collision Repair magazine: What do you see as the three most critical issues for the collision repair industry?
Norm Angrove: There is no question that over capacity has and will continue to be a reality in the Canadian Collision Repair Industry. Currently in Canada there are approximately 6,000 shops which have the capacity to repair approximately $7.5 billion. The reality is there is approximately $3 billion in collision repair available, so it is survival of the fittest. In understanding this, today’s collision repair operators have to ask themselves if they’re playing to win … or playing not to lose.
Today, collision repairers for the first time are dealing with five generations of customers (Matures, Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z) in their business. Today’s operators need to understand that the way we market and communicate to these multiple generations has totally changed. For some, these changes will present extraordinary opportunities, and for some the same changes will threaten their competitiveness. I believe that in order to grow in this business, today’s collision repairers need to develop and execute a strategic marketing plan that addresses these realities and ensure they are world class at everything they do.
Attracting new blood into the industry and finding qualified technicians continues to be a challenge across this country. I personally have been in this business for over 35 years and since the day I started this has been an ongoing issue. I understand this is a reality, but sometimes we have to deal with reality and make things happen on our own. In my travels throughout North America, I see organizations that are doing a great job at recruitment of young people and developing high quality technicians through an inhouse developmental program and showing people a career path in collision repair. The common thread of these organizations is they are focused on this very important HR aspect of the business.
CRM: What would you suggest to a shop owner who is trying to deal with multiple generations of customers?
NA: Become a marketeer. By that I mean, devoting a concentrated effort on marketing initiatives and I don’t mean spending advertising dollars. Th e starting point is to develop a comprehensive marketing plan/strategy for the business understanding that the marketing initiatives you establish are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. Once established, the key to success will be the ability of the shop to implement, execute and sustain the marketing initiatives they set for themselves. I truly believe that Hope is not a business strategy.
CRM: In your view, what are the most important steps for a shop to take to secure longevity?
NA: Be a student of the industry: There are so many changes happening in this business it is imperative that owners and managers are at the forefront of change, accept change and have the ability to adapt to change. A wise man once told me “You can change now or you can change later but you are going to have to change.” I believe it hinges on the old adage: “The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.”
CRM: What do you think will be an area of growth for collision repair facilities?
NA: Enhancing communication skills. In my travels over the years I have met with hundreds of collision centres and discussed marketing initiatives. I am also a student of the industry and collision centre marketing strategy is a topic that intrigues me. By no means do I want to stereotype, but customer communication in general is an area of focus most collision centres can improve on, no matter if you are a dealership, independent, franchise or network. I believe that every customer that has come to a collision repair facility for an estimate should be contacted within 24 hours. I believe that upon delivery of the vehicle a follow-up communication should be sent within 24 hours. I believe that all customers and contacts on the shops database should be communicated to every six months. This is the foundation. Your customer base is your goodwill of the business, but for too many the reality is out of sight, out of mind.
CRM: Thinking solely of how it’s going to change the business, what’s the biggest change we can expect in the next few years?
NA: The rapid advancement of vehicle technology will be the game changer in the future. The use of aluminum, carbon fibre and advanced substrates is only going to increase. In understanding this, owners must continue to invest in education, training and equipment to be able to repair these complex vehicles.
The ongoing demand for world class performance will only increase. Today, collision repairers need to adopt, embrace and focus on implementation of systems and processes to address cycle time reduction and touch time improvement within their facilities. Work providers and customer demands will only increase and we have to be prepared for this. In my view, shops that will be successful in instilling change within their businesses and meet the demands will be the shops that are successful at developing a culture of continuous improvement. This area is clearly a marathon, not a sprint.
CRM: What does the future hold for PPG?
NA: PPG is committed to providing world class industry leading coatings technology. We are committed to providing world class, training, consulting, systems and processes to ensure our customers are maximizing total profi tability in their business. Our sole purpose of existence is to ensure that our PPG customers have the tools to maximize on today’s business reality, but more importantly, be positioned to capitalize on tomorrow’s opportunities.