People key to the future

Some 380 of the industry’s leading global influencers heard that ‘people’ are likely to be the greatest challenge for the collision repair sector in the coming years.

The message came at the IBIS Global Summit 2017 from three of the largest collision repair network operators – Auto King, Caliber Collision Centers and Fix Auto World as they took to the stage to discuss consolidation within the industry.

Taking part in the panel session, Ayhan Dayoglu, CEO of Auto King; Steve Grimshaw CEO of Caliber Collision Centers; and Steve Leal president and CEO of Fix Auto World were unanimous in identifying the single biggest challenge in the next five years – skills, or more specifically, a lack of skills.

Steve Grimshaw said, ‘Talent is the single biggest challenge. It’s going to be everyone’s largest investment, creating your own bench. The trained people to support this industry do not exist.’

Steve Leal added that a lack of skills was evident in every single country it operates in, while Ayhan said that without the qualified technicians existing in the industry, its focus was in creating them itself.

The session formed part of a highly informative and interactive day which saw branding and customer experience expert Alex Hunter open proceedings by highlighting how the business landscape has changed drastically in the last five years, urging businesses not to get swept up by new technologies while forgetting that their customers are human beings.

Following on the theme, Alex said, ‘You have to trust your staff to do the right thing. You have to ‘empower’ them. Essentially, it’s about you more than the customer. That’s more important than any training you can ever do. You have to get your people invested. Making the promise is the easy part, delivering it is the hard part so the frontline staff must never forget to treat customers as individual people.’

In her session, Laurence Vivet-Ract, CEO of southern Europe, Innovation Group told delegates the ‘future is good for those embracing change and new technology.’ In her session, Private equity and the collision repair market, Laurence said how we were in an environment of disruption with new players moving at an audacious pace and this presented lots of opportunity.

Laurence said, ‘We need to accept change in our thinking and processes, and we need partners to do it.’

Delegates also heard from Thomas Lake, senior analyst, political risk, BMI Research who described 2017 as being ‘an eventful year so far for major economies’; Kris Mayer, general director, wholesale channel, customer care and aftersales, General Motors and Guillermo Bill Lopez, general manager and vice president, OEConnection who discussed the MyPriceLink real time parts pricing system; and in the final session of the day, Sean Carey, president of SCG Management Consultants who told delegates that the connected car and landscape is ‘all consuming’.

Sean highlighted how OEMs are at the forefront of creating the future and they are making their way into the claims and repair segment. Sean said that we should be focusing on building capability networks – networks of shops that are capable of repairing the vehicles and who know their limitations. He warned, ‘there will be bodyshops that wake up and realise they cannot repair vehicles anymore.’

Raising the curtain on day two of the IBIS Global Summit 2017 was the message for all within the industry: ‘The greatest reward in life is helping others and paying it forward.’

The message came from Service King president Jeff McFadden as he quoted the words of business founder, Eddie Lennox – the man who planted the seeds for one of the world’s largest collision repair operators.

In his session, Jeff discussed the 52 week Service King Apprentice Development Programme, which powered by private equity ‘jet fuel’ has helped underline the businesses accelerated growth. With over 300 employees now either on the programme or having graduated, Jeff described it as ‘very inspiring to be able to change lives.’

Discussing the elements of success, Jeff described how the programme was built around ‘localising’ and ‘the most important thing’ – the in-depth curriculum which he said, ‘we believe that alone adds some concrete.’

IBIS delegates also heard from Marc Priestley, former F1 mechanic and F1 broadcaster who regaled stories of his time with McLaren, highlighting how attention to detail and thinking differently transformed the business.

Marc highlighted how a real turning point for F1 and, more specifically, McLaren came when the EU placed a blanket ban on Tabaco advertising within the sport. He said that while the other teams got drawn into a fightback, McLaren looked at it very differently and explored the opportunity it provided. ‘Ron Dennis spoke with us all and said we were going to go a different route – he saw the opportunity,’ explained Marc.

‘We started to implement change and analyse everything we did in order to provoke new ways of thinking. This was a huge change of culture as now we were being asked how we should move forward.’

‘People were empowered and given the opportunity to make an impact’ said Marc as he explained how employees were encouraged to share experiences and ideas. ‘We became a much more efficient resource, and started to share our experiences. The end result was that we won the world title with Lewis Hamilton,’ said Marc.

Delegates also heard from Charles Morgan, advisory board chairman of Alcraft Motor Company who explored the need to retain craftsmanship in any process. He said, ‘Art and cars can be very powerful. So I believe talent can beat might. We’re all told that the big companies will take over. But they won’t. Talent can take on and beat the factories. I have a massive appreciation for engineering and engineers, but it’s about the story as much as engineering.’

The IBIS Global Summit 2017 is partnered by 3M, AkzoNobel, Audatex, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Fix Auto World.

The event took place at the Meliá Castilla hotel in Madrid, Spain on 12-14 June 2017.