Challenges creating opportunity

IBIS Global Summit 2018 delegates heard that a skilled workforce and correct repair were two of the key challenges for the industry in the near future.

The message came from the final session of the IBIS Global Summit 2018 which saw Ford’s Jennifer Boyer and Caliber’s Mark Sanders provide their respective opinions on the challenges and opportunities within the collision repair industry.

In continuing the theme of skills shortages, Jennifer, aftersales marketing director and global collision repair director, Ford Motor Company, stated that a key strategic focus for the business is to support its dealers and collision centres in the recruitment and development of its people. Jennifer said, ‘There is more opportunity for us, collaboratively, to promote this side of the automotive industry.’

Moving onto the subject of repair and the implications of new vehicle manufacturer technology, president and COO of Caliber Collision Centers, Mark Sanders said, ‘The day of repairing any vehicle in any shop is over. I want strategically placed operations to handle specific vehicle brands.’

Jennifer agreed and said, ‘There will be a variety of solutions in the future – some specialists and some hybrid approaches.’ She reiterated this by highlighting how equipment and training were two key aspects of Ford’s approach to the collision sector.

On the subject of total losses, Jennifer highlighted how 320,000 Ford owners in US experience a total loss annually. She said, ‘Frankly that’s an area where we haven’t dedicated enough resource previously. I think it’s a key opportunity for us.’ Mark agreed that a true opportunity exists for partners to collaborate on improving the current total loss situation but the solution is not clear on how that might work.

Exploring the connection with the customer and the opportunity to provide added value services, Jennifer explained how Ford has been working with its location functionality of its app to benefit customers in the unfortunate event of an accident. In the longer term she pointed to how connected vehicles would enable the vehicle to seek out the best location to affect a safe and correct repair.

Jennifer also touched upon how digital marketing has been used in the US to ‘encourage’ Ford owners to seek Ford branded repair solutions – something she said the business is now looking to develop globally. Jennifer also highlighted how Ford of Europe has been building a collision solution centric team whose number one priority right now is building relationships and IBIS is a perfect place for that.

In closing, and discussing the role of the insurers within the claims process, Mark said a collaborative relationship was vital, ‘Their moment of truth is when a claim occurs – it needs to be a positive experience.’ Jennifer agreed a partnership approach was required and said she saw a great opportunity to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to provide the Ford customer experience.

The IBIS Global Summit 2018 is partnered by 3M, AkzoNobel, Audatex, Axalta, Enterprise Rent A Car, Fix Auto and Symach.