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WHEELS OF FORTUNE

BY DARRYL SIMMONS

One of the best things about my job is getting out to events and meeting the incredible people of our industry. Two recent events that I really enjoyed were IBIS and the Driven Brands convention. 

IBIS is a global summit where we talk about the latest trends and challenges in collision repair. It was in Milan, Italy, this year. You can see the photos on page 28 to get an idea. 

The Driven Brands convention was a celebration of the company’s network and its achievements and innovations. It was in Montreal this year, and it had a full line up of speakers, workshops, awards, and entertainment. See our coverage on page 36. 

Both events proved extremely valuable for attendees. 

The main topics discussed at each conference were similar: rapid changes in technology combined with the challenges created by the shortage of technicians. This is a problem everywhere, not just in Canada. There are many reasons for this, but some of them are the image of the industry, the complexity of cars, and the competition from other sectors. 

Cars are not getting more advanced and sophisticated—they already are far more complicated than the models of two years ago. As are the skills and knowledge needed to fix them. 

Did you know that industry experts expect electronics to comprise more than 50 percent of the cost of a car in two years? That’s crazy, especially when parts are hard to get and expensive because of supply chain issues. 

Some countries are dabbling in what they call the “throwaway car.” These are small, cheap and easy-to-build cars made for urban and short-term use. They are not meant to be repaired; they are made to be replaced. Sure, it sounds weird to you and I, but it illustrates how the global consumer is changing their views on car ownership and mobility. 

We still love our cars up here in the Great White North. We want to keep them safe and reliable. We don’t want to replace them every two years, or every time someone bumps into us in a parking lot. That’s why we need to attract and keep technicians who are able to work on the technologies of today, and those of the future. And, for you, that means investments in training and equipment; they are costly, but I promise you, they are necessary. 

Another topic we’ve discussed en masse is the profitability of the collision repair industry. It’s been interesting to hear from different perspectives, like insurers, parts makers, paint companies and shops. Each one has its own challenges and opportunities, but they all depend on each other. 

It was surprising to hear that insurance companies are losing money, at least on paper. They say that they are paying more for claims than they are getting from premiums, because of things like rising costs, fraud and frequency. They, like collision centres, are looking for ways to save money and be more efficient. 

However, it’s also been encouraging to see that shops are getting more recognition and support from other stakeholders. The industry sees that collision centres are not just a cog in the wheel, but the most important cog in the wheel. They are the ones who fix the cars properly and safely, and who talk to the customers directly. 

Finally, and perhaps the best to see, was the fact the new organizations and initiatives are working hard to give you, the collision centres, a seat and the table and a voice on the mic. They are fighting for fair compensation, quality standards and customer satisfaction. At the same time, they promote industry-wide collaboration and innovation among all shops and their partners.

The industry is working; all parts of it, but these groups in particular. If all parties lend an ear and continue on the path we’ve been blazing this summer, we’re in for a good road ahead. A challenging road, but there are plenty of rewards to reap along the way. Join the parade.

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