Bob got me out of my shop and into seeing what is happening in the world. Over the years, I’ve been involved in many peer groups such as the Dale Carnegie Leadership Training, ARMS management workshop, the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Total Loss Committee, Coyote Vision Group and CARA Collision Group, to name a few. The peer groups I joined met regularly, and we learned from one another. We visited one another’s shops and were able to reach the next level by sharing strategic information, data tricks and secrets.
Q: What is the advantage of being part of an association?
A: I can’t imagine any professional in any industry not being a member of a trade association. I think it’s critically important. We don’t always think of an association as a peer group, but it actually is. I think everyone who is in the industry should belong to a national and a local association.
The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP), The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Automotive Service Association (ASA) are three of the primary national ones I recommend because they have the most events, education and publications available. Look at all three and determine the best fit with your culture.
If you don’t have a strong local association in your area, then get involved in your state association or form one of your own. In the mid-1980s I formed one in Milwaukee---the Milwaukee Collision Repair Association---because there wasn’t one where I lived. Talking to your peers locally can be really powerful.
Now more than ever, I think associations need our support. With autonomous cars coming out, there are issues we are likely going to deal with, such as the legal challenges that will be the result of car accidents. We need to support those associations and organizations that support us.
I understand that it can be challenging to make time to do that while running your business, but if you take the time to connect with people, you’ll learn from one another. Every time you go to a meeting outside of your shop, you’re probably going to meet more people in the industry, whether it’s two people or 500. It can be extremely eye-opening and informative.