By Mike Davey

Ottawa, Ontario -- May 30, 2014 -- The future of collision repair will require technical expertise, sound decision making, and most importantly, a clear vision. All three were on display at the 2014 Fix Auto Conference at the Westin Ottawa. 

Steve Leal, President of Fix Auto, kicked off the conference on Wednesday with opening remarks speaking to the theme, “A Clear Vision for the Future.” Leal discussed Fix Auto’s international reach and also introduced Guy Barbeau, who has recently joined the team in the position of VP of Operations. Barbeau is highly experienced on the OE side, having spent many years as an executive at Chrysler. 
 
Special guest speaker Bob Hartley was next to take the podium, speaking of the value of treating people as individuals. Hartley, who has coached NHL teams through hundreds of games, is almost unique in the world of hockey. He never played professionally, but his abilities to coach and to motivate secured his place in NHL history. 
 
Next up was Andre La Forge, Managing Director with Roynat. La Forge’s presentation focused on finances, highlighting what a shop owner must do when considering the purchase of a new facility. 
 
David Lingham of IBIS brought an international flavour to the conference, serving as both a speaker and emceeing part of the event. He interviewed Andy Warren of RSA UK on claims frequency reduction, telematics, change management and building a sustainable, profitable collision repair industry for the future. 
 
“The average repair time was 14 days two years ago, now it’s 10 days,” said Lingham. “By 2015 it will be down to six days.”
 
Steve Leal returned to the stage to conclude the days sessions and recap the requirements and importance of a clear 20/20 vision.
 
The second day of the conference began with an address by David Lingham, speaking on the future of the industry. 
 
“Imagine a production line where you make a Rolls Royce, then a couple of minis, then another Rolls Royce, then you switch back to minis again,” said Lingham. “That sounds crazy, but that’s essentially the situation in the industry today.”
 
Lingham also discussed the growing popularity of mobile repair services in the UK. This is not PDR, but a travelling repair centre that comes to a customer’s home or business, sets up a tent, and can actually spray the car. Lingham noted that insurers in the UK are very excited about the service, as it tends to improve customer retention and net promoter score. 
 
Two panel discussion followed, one focused on suppliers, the other on insurers. Sitting on the supplier panel were Brent Jamieson of Axalta, Terry Fortner of LKQ, Jesse Herrera of Mitchell, Kevin Kemp of Enterprise, Jay Singer of Discount, Alain Primeau of NAPA, Anthony Giagnocovo of Audatex and Bob Kirstiuk of Advantage Parts Marketing. The insurer panel was comprised of Christian Charest of Desjardins, Wendy Hillier of Intact, Joanne Eccleston of Aviva and Paul Hicks of TD Insurance. 
 
A team building exercise followed lunch. In an unusual twist, the teams were actually called on to build something. Fifty children’s bicycles were assembled and decorated by the teams, and then given away to children from the Ottawa area. The team building event benefitted local children in need as well as emotionally impacting the Fix Auto attendees, leaving participants feeling very humble.
 
The conference officially came to a close that evening with a Gala Dinner at the stunning Ottawa Convention Centre. In addition to announcing the location of next year’s conference, Fix Auto honoured those franchisees who went above and beyond in the last year. 
 
For more information on Fix Auto, please visit fixauto.com
 

 

 

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