By Elizabeth Sargeant

Toronto, Ont -- July 2, 2019 - There’s no better way to learn about the automotive industry than to get advice from those who have truly experienced it all. From being a young apprentice learning how to change a tire to a body shop owner, learning to manage an entire team, people in the automotive industry cannot grow in their career without the mentorship of industry leaders around them. 

Here are the top three pieces of advice from past Wednesday Wisdom leaders, throughout all the different stages of a successful career in the CR Industry. 

 

Training

In any industry, training is an essential part of having a strong and steady beginning at work. Dave Flockhart has served as the chief operating officer of BETAG Innovation for more than seven years, a massive network dedicated to properly training those entering the industry and has played a key role in BETAG’s push to enshrine the importance of training the industry at large. When Flockhart was asked how training can become more effective in moving forward with the times, he had the perfect answer:

“There's no substitute for practical hands-on skills-based training. The reason that most technicians come into this industry is to fix things using their hands. Their default learning style reflects that. Having more hands-on training is, therefore, a critical component going forward.”

 

Bolstering

Once trained and at a facility, bolstering a business is key to keeping the doors open. Vice president of operations for Simplicity, Domenic Prochilo knows all about this as he has spent much of the past few years bringing his in-depth understanding of the automotive business to successful body shops, partnered with his brand. Prochilo and brother Paul are well-known to the Canadian collision community, not just for Prochilo Brothers Collision, but also for their collaboration with their cousin, Domenic Ieraci, to found their own franchise: Simplicity Car Care. When asked what he thinks collision repair business owners can do to bolster their business, Prochilo’s answer came from years of experience.

“I believe that shop owners should control what they can control and not to worry about anything else right now. One thing that we can control, is the client experience. I feel that is the biggest area of improvement in terms of a business’ profitability. I don’t think there could be anything more important than the client experience. The client has more control than ever on being able to communicate to the masses about their experience. From the comfort of their office, a client can rave about your business, further improving your Yelp score, your Google review score.

"But with a click and a swipe left they can detract others from visiting your site, just by sharing how unpleased they were.The average person touches their phone 150 times a day. Technology is not something that is used or taken advantage of by just the millennials, but anyone can use their phone to communicate anything today. You’ll see that that will be a big differentiator in the business now and for years to come."

 

Staying in Business

From preparing to work in a shop to maintaining a good reputation, one aspect repairers struggle with is simply keeping up. Carole Lacasse, a woman with more than 20 years of collision repair experience under her belt has filled many shoes in the automotive industry and has seen the industry change in many different areas. From a collision repair tech to an I-CAR instructor and university lecturer, Lacasse is now the  new director of the Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) and when asked what key piece of advice she would give an auto shop owner to keep in business she replied: 

“Shops will struggle if they don’t find a way to adapt to this fast-evolving environment. Change management is the only option here because everybody reacts differently to change. Shop owners and managers need to be aware of their own reactions to changes. They also have to consider the employee's reactions. There will always be early adopters and laggards who will resist until the last minute. Developing skills in conflict resolution, communication, and active listening or strategic thinking can only facilitate the adaptation.”

 

Whilst advice differs from specialties to experience, all industry leaders have started at the beginning and have provided guidance that have pushed students into shop owners. The advice they share and mentorship they provide only helps young trainees turn into future Wednesday Wisdom leaders.

 

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