CCIF panelists discuss new challenges facing the industry. From left: Larry Jefferies, Tony Canade, Ken Friesen, Terry Allen and Joe Carvalho.

By Leanne Jefferies, Director of Collision Program for AIA Canada.

Calgary, Alberta -- September 20, 2015 -- The latest meeting of the Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) in Calgary shattered previous attendance records for meetings held in that city. CCIF Calgary drew together over 250 hundred industry stakeholders from various segments of the auto claims economy. The meeting took place at Hotel Arts on September 18, 2015.

This marks the last meeting of 2015. Looking ahead to 2016, CCIF Toronto will have a new location and format. Set to be the largest CCIF in history, the CCIF Cars & Technology Showcase will include OE vehicles and equipment and technology booths in an exciting and interactive event.

CCIF Chairman Larry Jefferies delivered his opening remarks, reflecting that the meeting marks the end of a very successful second year with AIA Canada managing CCIF. He shared that in the last two years, the organization has had 2005 attendees, over 1300 "unique visitors," and undertaken four industry projects that are creating positive change in the industry through collaboration between industry stakeholders.

The first presentation of the day was a discussion of market dynamics and their impact on collision repair, presented by David Adams, President of the Global Automakers of Canada. Adams shared OEM market information and auto industry dynamics with the crowd, provide collision industry stakeholders with a snapshot of where vehicle sales are heading and other major trends. This is vital information as repairers continue to invest in equipment and training to meet the needs of drivers.

Next up was Frank Terlep, CEO and Lead Sherpa of Summit eMarketing, discussing how to market, sell and service the Canadian connected consumer. Terlep noted how what he calls “Generation C” isn’t a specific demographic, but practically everyone. He discussed the tools and techniques repairers need to use to service connected customers and provided shops with some key action items - to make sure their website welcomes customers just like your physical reception area, and to respond to all online reviews, positive or negative. He explained, that to manage your online reputation, you need to be participate in the conversation.

After a short networking break, attendees were treated to a panel discussion on women in the collision repair industry. As moderator of the this panel discussion, I opened by presenting the business case that gender balanced teams perform better in every aspect - innovation, leadership, and financial results. I also reflected on the fact that it has only been in the last four to five years that there has been a significant shift in the business world to include women at senior levels of big business - mainly in response to research that shows that women provide a significant competitive advantage when involved at all levels of seniority in business. I was joined by Cecile Bukmeier, Chelsea Stebner and Tifarah Senkow who discussed their own personal journeys in the collision repair industry and shared their perspectives on what the industry is doing well, and where improvement is needed to attract more women and achieve a more balanced work force. The session opened our eyes to the potential for women to help address our industry challenges with profitability and human resources. Expect more discussion on this at future meetings.

Chairman Larry Jefferies returned to the podium to discuss market research and CCIF projects, while also examining how Canada compares globally. Jefferies shared important information ongoing CCIF initiatives such as the First Notice of Loss (FNOL) Assignment project, the Business Conditions Survey and the recently released AIA Canadian Collision Repair Industry Yearbook. His presentation pointed out that as a country, our structure and high level of consolidation have made it possible to collaborate and create change in ways that other countries aren't able to.

Tony Canade, President of Assured Automotive and Chairman of the Board for AIA Canada updated attendees on AIA's continued commitment to the collision repair industry, and shared his views on how AIA Canada supports the industry and the future direction of the association.

Next up were updates on success stories from the Skills Canada competitions and the work CCIF is doing with the Haiti Arise to help build a technical school in Haiti. I showed the new video just released from the 2015 Skills Canada National competition, which included interviews from competitors, industry, and even a proud parent. I also highlighted the three areas where significant strides were made in 2015: educational components added to competitions, women role models and competitors, and expansion into Alberta and BC with onsite painting.

I also provided a quick update on Haiti Arise, and our push to fund the autobody classroom building, through the buy-a-brick fundraiser. At the meeting, $2,400 in bricks were bought by attendees to support the project.

Ian Hope, Executive Director, Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association and ARC Board Member took the stage to announce that Haiti Arise has joined Car Heaven, the charitable program that ensure end of life vehicles are properly repaired while providing funds to a charity and a tax receipt for the owner. This will provide long-term financial support to Haiti Arise.

Special guest Dana-Lynn Wood took the podium to discuss Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). A Senior Advisor, Compliance and Enforcement at the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Wood provided attendees with guidance and tools for how businesses can navigate these regulations.

Andrew Shepherd, Executive Director, I-CAR Canada, outlined the emergence of I-CAR Platinum and Gold recognition as standards for shop performance in North America. He shared details on the training required for shops to attain Gold Class status, including costs. It's clear that I-CAR training will continue to increase in Canada and more OE's require the training for their individual certification programs.

The second panel discussion of the day followed Shepherd’s presentation. Moderated by Larry Jefferies and Joe Carvalho of Economical Insurance, the discussion focused on the increasing number of new challenges and changes facing the collision repair industry. The panelists were Tony Canade of Assumed Automotive, Ken Friesen of Concours Collision Centres and Terry Allen of Speedy Collision. Much of the discussion was focussed on the need for investment in equipment and training, and finding a way to see a reasonable return on the investment. OE certification, repair segmentation, repair complexity, and different options for establishing industry standards were also discussed. CCIF’s live feedback system, the VOICE, was used to poll the audience for their input and feedback during the session.

The last full presentation of the day was delivered by Scott Wideman, Collision Program Manager, Volkswagen Group Canada. Wideman provided insight on the direction that Audi vehicle construction is heading, including the design architecture for the TT, Q7 and R8. Highlights included a discussion of the materials used in body construction and associated repair techniques, and an outline of what impact this new architecture will have on the Audi Certified Collision Repair network.

Chairman Jefferies delivered the closing remarks and discussed feedback obtained from the VOICE. This marks the last meeting of Jefferies’ tenure as Chairman, before handing over the gavel to Joe Carvalho of Economical Insurance, who will serve as Chairman throughout 2016.

The next meeting of the CCIF will take place January 28, 2016 in Vaughan, Ontario. Please visit ccif.ca for more information.

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