|Speak up, and help me to help you|
|Articles - Features|
|Monday, 23 July 2012 09:40|
By Tom Bissonnette
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- July 23, 2012 -- At the last meeting of CCIF I gave a short presentation about some of the nitty gritty issues facing the collision industry: insurance relations, replacement parts and profitability. Some folks did not like it and thought it was neither the time nor the place to discuss such issues. But if not at CCIF, then where?
As one industry insider confided to me after I gave my presentation:
“Shop owner/operators this year and for the last few, are clinically depressed. It’s no fun anymore. Most are looking for a business buyer. Costs are up everywhere, demands are more stringent, all roads are lined with cautions and no one cares if you are successful or not as long as they get their piece of you. What CCIF can do—and what you clearly are altruistically motivated by— is to stop the ‘ostrich syndrome.’ The bury-your-head -inthe- sand behavior by shops across the country, hoping that things will get better someday if they can just hold on, go into business survival mode and play nice with insurers.”
Donald Cooper, a renowned business speaker and consultant was a guest at the Vancouver CCIF. I had the opportunity to pick up a copy of his work book called Vision Critical (available at donaldcooper.com for $24) and I heartily encourage you to get this work book and go through the exercises he has provided.
I emailed Donald and told him that according to the latest statistics I have seen, the collision industry in Canada has an average net pro t in the 3 to 5 percent range. I asked him how that stacked up compared to other businesses in Canada.
“Being in the collision repair business and making a return of 3 to 5 percent makes no sense at all. It’s a hobby,” read part of his reply. “The even worse thing is that, because of the poor return, the business can’t be sold for a decent amount in the end. So, you get smacked two ways. First, every year with a poor return ... and second, eventually with a lousy sale price when you want to get out and move on.”
This is why shop owners are not getting out. Donald explains further: “I have a question that I often ask clients. ‘Will this industry, doing it the way you’re doing it right now, be a financially and emotionally healthy place to be in 3 to 5 years?’ It appears that for many of you, it isn’t now. So, how do the business model and or the operating practices need to change to create a decent return?”
This is a good question. We need to come up with a good answer.
Folks, you may not be a big CCIF supporter, but it is really the only national forum we have right now where we can discuss these issues face to face. I am asking you to get engaged, help us to deal with the tough issues like insurance relations, replacement parts, profitability, advanced vehicle technology and repair standards. Write and tell me what you would like to talk about and in what format. Should we bring the breakout groups again? Can we set up committees to discuss and report on these issues? I am not afraid to speak out.
Help me to help you.