By Alex Dugas
Drummondville, Québec -- September 25, 2017 -- Hundreds of industry stakeholders gathered together recently in Drummondville for the 2017 edition of the AIA Grand Forum. The theme of the event was "Connected to our Customers," and the forum provided a number of relevant discussions on customer service, sales and communication.
The day began with a warm welcome and a visit with exhibiting partners, including I-CAR, Racine Chamberlain, GEM-CAR and many more.
Formal presentations began with an opening address by Réjean Lortie of CARQUEST Canada. Lortie was also the Master of Ceremonies for the event.
André Latreille, President of the Quebec Division of AIA Canada, presented an assessment of the Quebec division's activities in the last year. Latreille highlighted AIA's continued presence during this period of constant change and the importance of staying connected as industry players. "So here we are all gathered in the same room, this is a good example of a good connection," said Latreille.
Jean-François Champagne, President of AIA Canada, then took to the stage to present the association's activities at the national level.
Champagne began his presentation with some results from the latest AIA survey. The questions centered on the issue of the dealership vs. the independent shop in this new technological era where customers are increasingly relying on the web and social media to make their purchasing and service decisions.
Among other topics, Champagne discussed the arrival of autonomous and electric cars as well as the effort that must be put in place to keep the pace of the industry. "The aftermarket will be greatly disrupted by this new mobility. We need to understand what is happening and how to educate ourselves," he said.
The participants of the event were able to attend several other presentations during the day. One of the most topical presentations was a panel discussion called "Connected to our Future Partners: Succession." The panelists were Vyolaine Dujmovic, WorldSkills competitor; Nuno Victorino, shop owner; Serge Gauthier, Director of the School of Motorized Equipment and Trades in Montreal, and Patrick Saint-Pierre of Porsche Cars Canada. The presentation focused on succession and the hiring of new technicians. Among the topics discussed, Dujmovic discussed her career path through the industry as well as her progress with the WorldSkills competition and Victorino discussed the mentoring program in place at her workplace, Fix Auto Henri Bourassa.
Professional motivational speakers and coaches filled out the rest of the day. “Connected to the World”, a presentation on the attitude of the industry in the wake of its future, was presented by Sylvain Boudreau. “Connected to Wales,” presented by Guy Bourgeois, focused on the techniques and sales ethics needed to connect with today's customer. Finally, “Connected on Communication”, a presentation on the importance of communication within the automotive industry, was presented by Carol Allain.
The day ended with an networking-focused cocktail reception. The event successfully conveyed the importance of being prepared for the technical and technological changes of the automotive repair industry.
For more information, please visit aiacanada.com.