Tuesday, 31 January 2012 15:23
By Jonathan Barrick
Toronto, Ontario -- January 31, 2012 -- Collision Repair magazine has added a new columnist to its roster. We welcome Jonathan Barrick of Global Finishing Solutions to the line-up, starting in our next issue. In his column, Barrick will share practical, targeted tips on how collision repair professionals can access the rich world of social media and use it improve many aspects of the business. Below is a special preview of Barrick’s first column.
Welcome to the first in a series of quick tips designed to help you understand social communications, get started on the right foot and build a thriving online presence. It’s not as daunting as it may seem at first. If you haven’t made your way in to the social arena yet, fear not. It’s never too late to do things right.
Customers are flocking in mind-boggling numbers to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. They’re tuning out of traditional media and tuning in to these new media channels where they are in charge. Some are tired of being shouted at by traditional advertising, some are looking to heap praise and compliments on their favourite brands, some are looking for discounts or exclusive offers and some are looking to sound their complaints and have their voices heard. But if we take a step back and look at what the real motivator is, we can see that people really want one thing above all else: to be valued.
They want to be appreciated, above and beyond a simple “thanks for your money.” In a small, very personal way, they want to become a part of the brands they do business with. When a customer “Likes” your page on Facebook, or “Follows” you on Twitter, they’re giving you a public thumbs-up and approval to talk to them directly. They’re giving you the opportunity to prove that they really matter. In return, they essentially become a part of your team.
When someone interacts with you in the public forums of social media, they are now one of your brand reps, one of your market research sources and one of your media contacts. They are your most valuable business partners because they are your customers. Nobody understands what it’s like to do business with you better than they do.
“Social” is important because it offers you opportunities to be better than ever before, to understand the real motivators that drive your customers, to understand your market more intimately than you could ever have done previously and to build a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers and your community. Do it right and stick with it, and the benefits will be huge.
The implications for collision repair shops are significant. The inherent nature of the industry is that customers don’t tend to do a great deal of research or looking around until they are already in a bad situation. Providing useful, helpful information and advice through your social media efforts builds a solid online reputation of trust and legitimacy. When customers start hunting for a repair service, how valuable would it be for their search results to be peppered with links to your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed or YouTube channel?
Real-time communication with your customers means you will be able to achieve higher customer retention, better understanding of your markets and greater reach of your messages. You will become more “findable” through improved search engine rankings and a greater presence across some of the most popular web properties. Your business will become more authentic, and the brand image of your business will be strengthened by real-time public testimony of your customers. The benefits of social communications are real, and they are powerful.
Social communications are exciting, and you should be getting excited for the opportunities they present for your business! In coming articles, we’ll get into more hands-on tips to ensure your company is setup properly in social media, starts sharing the kinds of content that will resonate with your fans, and really makes a positive effort to connect with your customers.
Jonathan Barrick is the Marketing Manager for Global Finishing Solutions, and a strong proponet of social media for business. He can be reached at 705-719-4014 or via email to
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 15:58
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 14:18
ARA program aims to give
recyclers a wider world view
By Joe Rayment
There’s more than one kind of education. There’s going to
classrooms, doing homework and studying. There’s on the-job training and apprenticeships. There are online
courses you can take to add to your skill set.
There’s also a category that’s harder to teach, but just as important: life experience.
With this in mind, the Automotive Recyclers Association
(ARA) Education Foundation recently launched its educational
The program—the brainchild of ARA Educational Foundation
vice president Ross Nicastri—sends auto recycling employees far
and wide to experience different facilities and different cultures.
One of the ﬁrst Canadians to take part in the program was
Stephanie Fugère. Stephanie, who works for her father Roger
Fugère at Lecavalier, travelled to Mount Pearl, Newfoundland to spend a month working at Auto Parts Network.
“It was a really nice trip and I think I learned a lot,” Stephanie said. “I learned a lot in my life and a lot in business.”
Under the program, the originating facility—in this case Lecavalier—continues to pay the employee’s salary while the host
facility provides lodging and commits to showing the employee a
bit of the area’s culture.
For the month that Stephanie was in Newfoundland she
stayed with Auto Parts Network owner Glenn Hickey.
“The family brought me to a lot of places,” Stephanie said. This
included many of the cultural gems of southern Newfoundland,
including the historic ﬁshing village Quidi Vidi and Cape Spear, the easternmost
location in North America.
“The view is
really beautiful,” Stephanie said.
In the workplace, Stephanie ﬁt in well.
She found a lot of common ground between
the two operations—they shared many of
the procedures and Stephanie even had similar responsibilities at Auto Parts Network.
There was something about it though,
that drove home what she likes in automotive recycling. While she was there,
she made a career choice.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do in
life before I went there,” she said. “But
now I’m pretty sure I want to go into the
business of my father.”
The educational exchange is open to all
ARA members for employees over the age of 18.
“After having been involved in an exchange program myself
I believe the most is gained when employees are exchanged for
one with a similar job title to allow more employers to participate and not ﬁ nd themselves short-handed during the program,”
said ARA president Sandy Blalock. “I hope that members of our
industry embrace this opportunity to educate and improve the
systems within our industry.”
Monday, 12 September 2011 12:13
Michelle Rolls went from hesitant manager to award-winning owner
By Mike Raine
For Michelle Rolls, owner/operator
of Queensway Fix Auto in Prince
George, British Columbia, life in
collision repair was not the plan.
Growing up in the industry and
seeing the long hours her parents worked
discouraged her from following in their
footsteps. But sometimes life has other plans.
Now a key player in an industry she didn’t
intend to join, Rolls has won the 2011 Most
Influential Woman in the Collision Repair
Industry (MIW) Award.
Growing up, Roll’s parents, Phil and
Mary, owned two collision repair facilities
in British Columbia, but their daughter was
determined to follow her own career path.
“My parents were absolute workaholics and
I thought that if it’s that much work, then I
don’t really want to do that,” she laughs.
Instead, Rolls studied business at college and after graduation worked in office
management. However, not long after, one
of the collision shops needed a new manager and Rolls reluctantly
began working for the
family business . A
year and half later,
her parents announced they were selling
the shops and retiring.
The opportunity to own her own business,
and have a larger role in an industry she had
grown to love, was too tempting for Rolls.
In April of 2003, Rolls purchased Queensway
and cemented her place in the industry.
Since taking ownership, she has instituted her own way of doing business.
“I like to laugh and have a good time and be
comfortable with the people I work with,”
Rolls explains. She says the employees at
Queensway are like a family, constantly
playing pranks and telling jokes.
Knowing that she didn’t want to spend every waking moment on work, Rolls
made sure she surrounded herself with a
solid team. “When the staff are in place
and the right people are in the right places,
then I’m able to get away.”
As well, Rolls says she has seen the industry change greatly. “It’s not as much
about fixing cars anymore, it’s about
administration, and paperwork and relationships with insurance companies.”
However, change is not something Rolls is
scared of. In an industry where technology
is constantly changing, businesses must
be willing to adapt. “I like technological
changes, I like to learn about new things and
I think it keeps it interesting for everyone;
sometimes frustrating, but interesting nonetheless,” says Rolls. In addition, Queensway
joined the Fix Auto network in 2010.
What hasn’t changed is Rolls’ love of
the Prince George community. “I’ve made
more friends from customers than from
anything else,” she says.
To give back to the community, Queensway sponsors many local sports teams.
“¬Those are the people we need to make our
business solid and I like to support those
who support us,” explains Rolls, adding,
“I believe in buying local, staying local, as
much as we possibly can.”
That commitment to her customers, industry and community may be why Rolls gets singled out for awards. The MIW award is not the only award on her mantle.
In 2007 she received the Automotive Retailers Association (ARA) Member of the
Though very modest when talking about the awards, Rolls notes that she’s
more involved at the industry level than many shop owners, and sits on the executive committee of ARA’s collision repair
“I believe a healthy industry
is good for all of us, including my shop.”
Collision repair may not be the industry
she intended to work in, but it is now the
industry she loves. Rolls plans to do her
part for that industry in the community as
well. ¬ The awards are just a bonus.
Last Updated on Monday, 12 September 2011 12:16
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:25
There are 78 millions vehicles running
in Japan and about 7 million new
registrations yearly. Vehicles stay on
the road for an average of 12 years, producing 5 million ELVs annually.
More than 1.5 million Japanese ELVs
are shipped overseas annually, mostly to
countries with no automotive recycling
system, which creates a signiﬁcant environmental risk.
Japanese consumers have on average
had less money to spend in recent years,
which has meant good sales for Japanese
recyclers. The cost of a recycled part in the
country is less than 50 per cent the cost
of OEM parts. From April to September
2010, the government also had a program
in place to take older vehicles off the road,
which was also good news for recyclers.
In Japan, about 50 of the largest auto
recyclers are represented by the Japanese
Automotive Recycling Association (JARA).
JARA also includes some unique members
such as a vehicle carriage company and
derelict vehicle management company. The
association’s goal is to promote the relationship between recyclers and end users.
JARA companies took in between 5,000-
30,000 vehicles each as a result of the
government’s vehicle policy.
When Japanese recyclers take in a
vehicle, they ﬁrst inspect the vehicle, collect any necessary information and register
it into the computer. They then drain ﬂuids
and inspect and clean usable parts. At the
end of the process, parts are registered in a
system that connects all of Japan as well as
some overseas entities.
After the parts are catalogued what remains of the vehicle is processed and then crushed for scrap metal.
Overall, the Japanese recycling market has been doing well in
recent years. There is still lots of room to grow however; currently recycled parts represents about ﬁve per cent of the Japanese
parts market, which is still only a sixth of the usage seen in
countries such as the US.
Japanese recyclers are also making waves on the international scene. JARA recently won a World Energy Globe Award for their efforts to help Fiji with enacting an effective auto recycling program. It is among the most prestigious environmental
awards in the world and the ceremony was broadcast to nearly
3 billion household.
This article appeared in the January 2011 issue of Canadian Auto Recyclers magazine.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:30