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REV IT UP

Let’s accelerate the CCCR

Column by TOM BISSONNETTE

I have never considered myself to be the smartest person in the world of business, trust me, I have made my fair share of mistakes along the way. One thing I have always done is to show up at industry events and learn from other shop owners.

Whether it was our local association, SAAR, or CCIF, I attended as many events as I possibly could. I picked the brains of some amazing people: John Hume, Joe Schmidt, Jack Ryan and Dennis Corrigan locally; the Mario brothers, Isaac Sneath, Gerry Hauck and Lloyd Giles provincially; then guys like Ken Friesen, Dana Alexander and Glenn Hickey on the national stage. What a privilege it was to learn from these men that literally wrote the book on running a successful business.

When I first took over managing Parr Auto Body in 1986, I immediately knew that I had a tiger by the tail, I was way over my head in terms of experience. Then along came Koos Reineking who calmly took me under his wing and walked me through the process of getting myself up to speed with running a collision shop. I attended many Sikkens events, even an international tour of European Bodyshops where I really had my eyes opened to the potential possibilities.

Another major turning point for me was participating in the 3M Auto Repair Management Systems (ARMS) in Vancouver back in 1987. The cost back then was over $3,000 and three days away from the shop—I wasn’t sure if I could make it work, but it literally transformed how I managed our shop going forward.

I soon realized that I did not have to be all that smart, I just had to show up and pay attention then let common sense take over. Over the years I enjoyed each and every event and organization that I belonged to. I learnt from so many good people how to be a better me so that I could have a better business.

Why am I telling you all this stuff? Quite simply I am realizing that people just don’t connect as much today as we used to in the past. Our shops are more complex and busier so we think we cannot get away—but it is more than that. For example, last year our Tow Truck Association had a conference that included a Beauty Show of all makes and models of tow trucks. They contacted me asking for volunteers, so I sent an email out to our membership, not once but several times eventually begging people to help me for half a day on a Saturday. I did not get any response. I then contacted the Antique Auto Club, all guys over 60 years of age and immediately got about eight volunteers. We had a great time meeting over breakfast then getting to know each other when we formed teams of two to do the judging. I had a great time, but I felt bad that many of our members missed this opportunity. Is showing up and volunteering a thing of the past?

I have talked to various organizations and witnessed it myself that if a survey is sent out to a group less than 20 percent will take the time to respond to it. Can you imagine that a handful of people are providing the direction for your organization or industry because you could not take time to respond? How do you feel when your teammates and employees don’t respond to you when you ask for feedback? I certainly hope it is worse than when you post something on Facebook and no one comments! Or maybe you prefer to just make all your business decisions without getting advice from others? That is foolish. Listen, this is your business, and it is serious.

In the 40 years that I have been involved in the collision industry I do not think there has ever been a more crucial time where we all need to be more engaged with the direction our industry is going. We all know about the complexity of vehicles today but there are simpler more basic things that are not being addressed. Things like not getting paid fairly for all the work you perform. We are not a cost recovery business venture, there should be nothing you do that is “the cost of doing business” Today, when we finally have the OEM’s giving us clear directions on how to repair their products, how can we or the insurance company even think about questioning their instructions? Whose neck is on the line, yours or the insurance company?

Folks, right now we have a grassroots movement in Canada called the Canadian Council of Collision Repairers (CCCR) whose mandate is to advocate on behalf of all collision repair shop owners and managers. Currently they have a committed group of leaders from each province in Canada and well over 225 shops have signed up supporting the idea. Now I have no idea how many bodyshops exist in Canada—though I’m pretty sure it is in the thousands. So, I’m thinking we should have hundreds if not thousands of shops tuning in to see what CCCR is hoping to achieve for the benefit of all shops.

Currently they are undertaking a study of unpaid administration time that would include processing the vehicle for a damage assessment, looking up OEM repair procedures to provide a safe and quality repair, doing a comprehensive inspection of all the damage and documenting it with photos or video, sourcing parts to provide the most cost effective repair then pulling this altogether and providing the insurers with a detailed damage assessment in the form of a computerized document that includes photos to back up what your repair order spells out.

My friend Joe Hinkens wrote a bodyshop operations manual in the late 1990s and he stated that it can take anywhere from three to five hours for every $1,000 in sales—depending on the job being at an independent shop or a dealer bodyshop. Fast forward 23 years and add the complexity of today’s vehicles—can you imagine how much time is involved?

This is a big deal folks and you need to be engaged. CCCR needs your voice and your input, consider getting onboard now by logging in at collisionrepaircouncil.ca. Once we get the information solidly in place let’s have a respectful conversation with all stakeholders and see where this goes.

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