I am not sure how many Autobody News readers attend SEMA on a regular bases. This year was noteworthy to me for several reasons.

First of all, attendance was very strong from day one. Looking back in time, I can’t remember seeing crowds like this on opening day. This is particularly true when the opening day falls on a Tuesday. I don’t have the official attendance number for the show, but it was clearly a jump up from previous years. The strong attendance was coupled with a noticeable upbeat mood by all, visitors and exhibitors alike. It was a joy walking the halls and seeing people in our industry making an effort and clearly deciding that they will no longer be depressed by our economy. I hope this attitude is contagious!

While walking the show floor, you couldn’t help but notice improvements in vendor’s displays. There was high-quality eye candy everywhere you looked. Companies from all aspects of our industry came to play and showcase what they have to offer and what they are all about. There were incredible displays of custom cars and motorcycles, new tools, and products that made this a worthwhile trip.

Ford has issued the following press release on its new tests of certain A/M reinforcement parts.

  • Ford low-speed crash tests show that aftermarket copy structural parts absorb less crash energy than genuine Ford structural parts and can result in unintended airbag deployments
  • Repair estimates show the use of one common aftermarket bumper beam can more than double the repair costs after even a low-speed accident compared to a genuine Ford replacement bumper beam
  • Ford tests show that aftermarket copy structural parts are not "like kind and quality" to genuine Ford replacement parts and are not crash tested as part of the entire vehicle safety system

New Ford crash tests show that not all replacement vehicle parts are created equal when it comes to safety and the cost of repair when an accident occurs.

Kristen Felder, founder and CEO of Collision Hub, and Jordan Hendler, with Admin Concepts, taught the Social Media 101 session on Thursday, November 4 at the SEMA show as part of SCRS’ Repairer Driven Education. Both social media gurus expressed that social media has become a necessity for body shops.

Felder began the session by talking about the pervasiveness of social media in business these days.

“Your customers and competition are both using social media,” said Felder. Facebook, youtube and Twitter are the three sites that she sees as being really necessary for body shops at this point.

“We want you to be there when they come looking for you,” said Hendler, suggesting that body shops’ online presence and the social presence in their physical waiting rooms should be connected. Their online presence should reflect their store presence and vice versa.

Both speakers told attendees during the session that they should focus on customer loyalty, repeat business and referrals when it comes to offers and posts they put on their social media pages.

“People do not care about collision until they have one,” said Hendler.

One tip Hendler offered was for body shops to have a presence and share news that’s relevant.

“Make it interesting, just start with having a presence,” said Hendler,     “If they get it [information] from you, they will feel like you care.”

Felder explained that social media is really a portal; a two-way interaction between body shop and the customer, unlike a regular website where the information is dispersed one way, from body shop to the customer. This gives customers a way to interact with a business outside of the physical location.

“If you’re going to do your own [social media pages], it’s about a 20 minute per day commitment from you or someone in your office,” said Felder.

When it comes to content, Felder and Hendler both told shops to focus on local issues, causes and events.

“Don’t let irrelevant stuff get on your page,” said Hendler.

Felder told shops to try to focus on creating a local network by posting on other local pages and posting about things your specific community cares about.

“Social Media isn’t just about your presence, it’s about your community involvement,” said Felder.

At the end of the session the pair laid out some do’s and don’t’s for body shops using social media.

DON’T: Use closed statements, put up strictly ads or engage in political or religious debates.

DO: Listen to posts on your page (accept the negative comments and don’t just delete them), engage in conversations, not just campaigns and measure your success through followers and comments.

“Everyone is a potential customer ... but on social media you don’t need to treat them like one,” said Felder.

For more information visit collisionhub.com or admin-concepts.net.

Kristen Felder believes that members of the collision repair industry should meet and meet often — and not by accident.

Non-OEM parts again dominated much of the agenda at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), held in Las Vegas in November in conjunction with the SEMA show. The day-long meeting included presentations by Ford Motor Company, the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA), and NSF International, the organization that launched another certification program for non-OEM parts earlier this year.

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Ford announced at the meeting that it had followed up its simulated crash testing of some non-certified non-OEM bumper parts last summer with some actual low-speed crash testing of the parts (sold as replacements for the 2005–09 Mustang) in October. The effect of the use of non-OEM parts in a subsequent crash was clear, Paul Massie, powertrain and collision product marketing manager for Ford, said.

“It will change the discussion from it ‘might’ change the airbag deployment to it ‘will’ change the airbag deployment,” Massie said.

The National Auto Body Council (NABC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 15th annual 2010 Pride Awards, the cornerstone of NABC’S mission to create positive public awareness of the collision repair industry. The honors were bestowed at the Collision Industry Achievement Luncheon in Las Vegas on Wednesday, November 3. The accomplishments of the recipients are as diverse as they are inspiring.

Carl Garcia was designated a Home Town Hero in his community of Fall River, Massachusetts because he has tirelessly volunteered on behalf of families, children, and the elderly. Mr. Garcia has likewise been involved in Citizens for Citizens – Operation Christmas, a Wish Come True, the Sea Arid Scholarship Fund, the Fall River Firefighters Association, the Rhode Island Diabetes Association, and the Katie Brown Fund, which raises awareness among youths about domestic violence.