Staying Social: Oh, the days of in-person interactions

By Darryl Simmons

If one was ever to look for a Canadian industry that was totally dependent on relationships, they would need look no further than the Auto Claims Economy, or more commonly known as collision repair. Sure, other industries may compete, but my world view and social life is limited, so I’m going to stick to my guns here.

Shops and jobbers, networks and insurers, manufacturers, trainers, OEM, government agencies—lest we not forget the glue that keeps the whole thing together, drivers.

Well, to be more specific, drivers who have had the unfortunate luck of damaging their vehicle. It wasn’t so long ago, just ask anyone over the age of fifty—which, by the way, is the new thirty—and they’ll regale you with tales about relationships with appraisers, the ones who showed up in the shops and made decisions about the repair. Not the ones sitting in an office who knows where looking at a screen who probably don’t know the difference between their ratchet and their air hose. Those relationships were personal, face-to-face. A handshake was common, as was a Christmas turkey and a plethora of forty-ouncers.

Then there were relationships with the jobbers, and the suppliers and most importantly the paint companies. All were personal. All were face-to-face. This recent pain-in-the-butt virus wasn’t the initial killer of personal relationships, they have been slowly fading out for the past few years based on a lot of reasons. But COVID has sure as heck sped thing up. It used to be the NACE trade show brought together people from all corners of the country from all aspects of the industry. They were good times. Now, we have Zoom. Whoopie, a trade show with none of the gossip.

I don’t know how this new world is going to shake out, but one thing for certain, without personal relationships cemented with handshakes and total eye contact, we are in for interesting times. Along with disassociated relationships, comes a lack of loyalty to brand. Now we are looking at every aspect of our business being conducted via the internet.

Ever wonder what we would do without the internet? I bet one thing for sure, the economy would not have shut down, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.

Desktop appraisers and online shopping will never provide the same aura as before. But, hopefully, trade shows and handshakes will be back before we know it. I sure as heck hope so.

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