IBIS unpacks African market’s future

Global crash repair trends identified as key to unlocking potential of crash repair across the whole of Africa, as businesses focus on improving both profitability and the customer journey.

Delegates gathered at the Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 29 May for IBIS’ inaugural conference themed ‘innovation and integration.’ 
World class speakers tackled the topics surrounding the harnessing and implementing of technology to the industry, meeting demands of OEMs, insurers and bodyshops, an improved customer experience and the need for collaboration.

To welcome delegates and offer a chance to network, a welcome dinner was held the evening before, and refreshments and a light breakfast in the morning. 
The conference commenced at 9:00 am and first up to the podium was the day’s moderator Jason Moseley, CEO, IBIS, who welcomed delegates and speakers to the event. Next, Jason continued as the event’s first speaker in a session about the global collision repair industry trends IBIS has witnessed.

As the scene setter, Jason did a great job introducing IBIS’ core mission of promoting safety, skills and standards. As well as, familiarising delegates with what the day would have in store, ‘What we will focus on today are not just South African issues and debates but are also global issues,’ Jason stated, ‘These topics include skills, investment, profit margins, technology and competition.’
Global key points Jason discussed were that technology is reducing accidents which has led to the repair profile changing to smaller repairs, different tooling, and different skills. This is not making repairs easier however but more complex. Furthermore, Jason analysed what IBIS has learned over the past 12 months through its various events and research. The challenge of new skills and staff into the industry, collaboration, consolidation and diversification in the supply chain and the effect of millennials and technology on the market were just a few of the findings explored.

Second to the stage was Trevor Ward, Mazda South Africa, who explored what a win-win programme means for the industry with using Mazda’s ‘recommendation’ programme as a case study. Mazda holds a different view of what collision repair should be as opposed to the traditional view held in South Africa. ‘We (dealers, OEMs, insurers and bodyshops) all should have the same objective – to look after the vehicle owner,’ the speaker stated.

Trevor discussed that the way forward is figuring out how to work together for the benefit of the customer and at the same time make a profit. He described a win-win situation would involve OEMs increasing parts business and customer loyalty, dealers also increasing parts business as well as workshop business, bodyshops increasing volume and profitability while maintaining better quality workmanship for repeat business, and insurers having the ability to reduce premiums.

After a short coffee break where guests had an opportunity to network, Filum Ho, managing director Autoboys and vice chairperson, Right to Repair SA, took to the stage to discuss how a free market ensures the best vehicle repairs. Filum examined how the OEM and aftermarket channels in the industry are now blurring as new intermediaries change the nature of parts demand. Filum predicted that collaboration and digitization will be the key value drivers for the successful parts distributor of the future.

Dr. Frick Botha, Industry Training & Consulting (ITC), tackled training and developing human capital in the automotive body repair industry. The world is changing he said, which has led to new skill requirements. Frick commented that ‘we must form a whole new structure of working together to enhance training and bring skills to the industry.’ His recommendations for action included government involvement, industry role-players having solid understandings of the changing skills requirements, support of career development services, and most importantly, consensus and collaboration from everyone.

After a networking lunch, IBIS took a dive into digital and technical themes for the afternoon of the conference. To examine integrating innovation was Dave Shepherd, regional managing director, UK and Africa, Audatex. Dave focused on three forces he believes are driving disruption in the industry: technology, intelligence/data and customer expectation. ‘We have to collaborate together to make the most of these opportunities for the sake of the customer,’ Dave stated. As a final thought, he encouraged delegates to remember that however they might approach the changing landscape it needs to be comprehensive and seamless to remove the complexity and drama for the customer.

Cornelius Viviers, head of body repair training, TTi Global was next on the stage to examine the ‘drive for training.’ The speaker’s goal was to answer the question: what change is so significant in our industry that we are retraining or training qualified persons? The answer was the vehicle. There is an imperativeness of training needed to bridge the repair process gap created through innovative materials, joining methods, vehicle propulsion systems and technology, Cornelius described. Going forward the industry needs to keep pace with the changing environment and high-quality training is what is needed to accomplish that.

Next, an industry interview explored refinish market dynamics with Don Serapelo, key account manager, Axalta moderated by Jason. The two examined a multitude of topics including skills, technology, collaboration, digitisation, and changing mobility. Don emphasised that ‘Axalta’s future is about creating products that will be sustainable and a right fit for the future culture. It’s about investing more in innovation and thinking differently.’ Furthermore, the speaker explained that to help bodyshops improve efficiency, product development is key for not only Axalta, but for all those in the refinish sector.

The final speakers of the day were compiled into a panel session involving Steve Kessell, operations director, CRA, Ian Groat, publisher, Automotive Refinisher, and Graeme Reid, Lightstone to explore ‘a sustainable future for collision repairs.’ As was the common theme of the day, all panellists expressed the need for collaboration within the South African, and global, market. Ian commented, ‘We are not independent, the world is connected, and we need to address issues on a global scale. Insurance, bodyshops and OEMs are not working in harmony together for the sake of safety and customer’s reliability.’ More transparency, communication and training are vital to the success of the industry.

IBIS Africa 2019 concluded with some final thoughts and motivations from Jason. The inaugural event was considered a success by the guests, who were pleased to have the opportunity to debate ‘the real issues’ within the sector. IBIS has plans to return to Africa in 2020 to continue to build on its central message of safety, skills and standards in the collision repair industry.