BY DARRYL SIMMONS
There’s nothing more exciting than getting together a group of shop owners and managers.
Collision repair shop owners and operators sure are a passionate group. Since we first started talking about the possibility of a national association for shops only, the groundswell has progressed at a rapid pace. It’s obvious; the time for such a movement is now. It never was a wrong time, but it’s needed more now than ever.
A survey conducted by Collision Repair had nearly a hundred responses stating a clear need for some sort of association for collision repairers … and only the owner/operators/managers. No offence to the other key players. Key issues identified were the standard ones that are often bandied about: professionalism, industry relations, parts and materials, attraction and retention. But underlying was one key point: profitability.
Profitability is essential. Profitable shops buy more products, hire more people, get more training, provide more efficient service, etc. Everyone in the supply chain (auto repair economy) benefits.
But, according to a vast number of responders, shops today are doing more work for less money. And it’s not just one big item, but a plethora of little ones: such as increased admin time, missing line items, rising material costs, delayed payments and the list goes on. It’s obvious to anyone in the industry that things can’t continue as is.
The Canadian Council of Collision Repairers is open to all shop owner-operators, be it independent, network-affiliated or dealer-owned. What started as an ember has been fanned into flame. The key now is to keep things moving so it doesn’t get any chance at all to burn out. This is why your help is needed.
The CCCR is getting very close to a critical mass of creditability and negotiating strength. In a group of a dozen, there is no anonymity—there’s a looming fear of sticking your neck out and being in the spotlight. But in a group of hundreds, the collective overshadows the individual and there is no more fear of retribution for speaking on issues that some may deem as sensitive. There is also no chance of being ignored by “business partners” or having issues you feel important swept under the rug, or worse: put on hold until they are forgotten altogether.
This group is not anti-anything. It’s just that it is pro-shop. If you are an owner or a manager, your opinion matters. And hopefully it will be shared by others so there will be no fear of retribution. Help create a strong message and ensure that message is heard. Silence means consent. And that should not be the only option.
Right now, the group has just under a hundred members and it well on its way to get hundreds more. Once this happens, the voice is not of a particular shop or person, but of the collective. And this is when people can start speaking a lot more freely with fear of retribution.
The next steps will be to include the consumer-driving public to be aware of what is needed to conduct safe repairs and who is capable of performing them.
This is the voice of the repairers. It’s not that insurers, manufacturers, suppliers, network head offices and other ancillary services are less important, but they already have platforms from which they are being serviced. Perhaps in the future, there will be a seat at the table for them, but right now owner-operators need to crystallize their vision in terms of a concrete mission, a clear message and a target audience.
Collision Repair magazine is the ideal communications vehicle as our mandate is to serve as the informational, educational and inspirational platform for repairers.
CCRC’s goal is to promote open and honest communication amongst each other to build a credible voice to speak with external stakeholders. All comments, positive and negative are welcome as members must be able to speak out without fear of rebuke or retribution.
Please help get as many shop owners/operators, regardless of the type of shop, to sign up at the button below, or visit www.collisionrepaircouncil.com.
Building trust amongst members is a key first step. And it’s a big one. But a strong tide raises all boats, so it is to your advantage to share your opinions, even if your competitor is in the same room. By focussing on general issues in a positive way, change can take place.
Change is what is needed, and it must start someplace. Why not let it start with you?
A platform for positive solutions
Plenty has happened since this initiative first started. To provide initial direction and guidance, an Advisory Board was created. It includes 20 Canadian collision centres; independents, network affiliates and MSOs.
The first action item on the agenda was to pick a name. The group is now called the Canadian Council of Collision Repairers (CCCR). It was also decided that this group should, for the time being at least, only include shop owners/operators. See below for a sample of the comments and rationale.
The group will be dedicated to representing repairers by identifying and prioritizing business concerns and issues, education and information sharing. The goal is to provide a positive, inclusive and nurturing platform to develop the best course of action to provide positive solutions for issues concerning its members. The mandate and mission are still a work in progress and are always open for discussion. The list of members will not be made public; nor will the members of the Advisory Board. This will remain so until such time the group decides differently.
Our next step is to have an open Zoom meeting open to all shop owners, managers and operators. There will be registration, but in the meeting, there will be an option to remain anonymous. The CCCR will determine their needs and share their concerns about the industry in a safe and anonymous—if desired—environment.
Joining this group is as simple as filling out a form on the website. The only requirement at this time is a desire for repairer professionalism and credibility among the consumer-driving public and all other key players in the industry.