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Monday, 20 November 2017 23:08

AkzoNobel Meeting Held in CA to Help Shops Become ‘Repairers of Choice’

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Body shops from across the country recently joined distributors and AkzoNobel employees to share information, learn about best practices in the collision repair industry and conduct a financial analysis of their businesses. 

It was all part of the AkzoNobel North American Performance Group (NAPG) meeting held in San Diego, CA, in September. The meeting is planned twice a year at different destinations across the country, and is an important component of the Acoat Selected program.

 
Begun in Europe in 1976, the Acoat Selected program was first held in North America in the early 1990s. Since then, national and regional performance group meetings have been planned for shops on a regular basis. 


“What sets our events apart from the industry is our focus on having collision repairers spend time working ‘on their business’ and not ‘in their business,’” said Rick Fifer, North American services manager. “The shops come to our events to work.” 


There were more than 200 in attendance, including 147 body shop owners and managers representing 187 collision centers, 32 distributors and guests. 


During the week-long event, participants spent time in one of the eight performance groups focused on peer-to-peer consulting. 


“We are careful to not put competing shops in the same groups,” said Fifer. “We not only encourage open dialogue, but our consultants are trained to facilitate it so that attendees usually learn more from one another than from us.” 


Whether they are coming for the first time or are regular attendees, Fifer said shops understand that it’s a give-and-take relationship. 


“They come to the meeting prepared to give to their group members and especially the first-time attendees, but know that as long as everyone is giving, they all get to take something away.” 


He said the ultimate goal is to help shops be “the repairer of choice” and “employer of choice” in their respective markets.


In addition to attending the performance group meetings, attendees also had the opportunity to take part in the early-bird training sessions that were offered as well as listen to selected speakers who discussed topics and/or services related to the collision repair industry. They included 3M, Enterprise, Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP, the American Skilled Labor Association, Estify, Body Shop Nation and Phoenix Solutions Group.


Performance groups associated with the Acoat Selected program include:


BC RPG: The British Columbia Regional Performance (BC RPG) Group consists of Acoat shops from British Columbia, Canada. The group normally meets in Canada, but every two years they choose to participate at the NAPG. 


“The big attraction in San Diego (besides the location!) was the ability to attend the variety of Early Bird classes that are not normally available to them,” said Robert Dubreuil, senior services consultant, Canada. “Most of the members took part in several classes and really appreciated the information.”


Dealer: Approximately a dozen dealer shops gathered to discuss common issues they have in their businesses. 


“Although they are from all over the United States, they do have similar challenges within their own organizations,” said Greg Griffith, services consultant.  Griffith said, for the most part, the performance groups are run the same way, although some spend more time on certain topics, such as financials, processes and marketing. 


“Like the other groups, we help shops set an action plan of what they are going to work on at the end of every meeting and then we have them report back at the beginning of the next meeting,” said Griffith. “Almost everybody follows that up with a financial discussion.” He often encourages shops to get involved in the industry, especially if they want to see changes occur. 


“What we always do in the dealer group is have a couple of shops that are involved in their local auto body associations and discuss what’s going on in the industry to try to get people involved,” said Griffith. Overall, he said, the networking is very beneficial to all of the shops. 


“They are able to reach out to one another, and in between the meetings a lot of the guys have become friends and talk to each other all the time,” he said.


Distributor: James Lamb, business services manager, said the Distributor Group is unlike a traditional Performance Group, but is a great opportunity for distributors from across the country to stay up-to-date on issues and solutions affecting their customers. 


“It’s also a good way for us to communicate new developments from AkzoNobel and discuss, as a group, possible implications and opportunities,” he said. Lamb said that one of the group’s long-term collision center owners, Van Takemoto from Island Fender in Hawaii, spoke to attendees about the value he has realized from participating in Acoat over the years. 


“His sales and his profitability are significantly better than when he started with AkzoNobel over 15 years ago,” said Lamb. “Takemoto encouraged the distributors to push their customers to participate, as he strongly feels it brings the shops more value than they can get in any other way.”


Gold: The Gold performance group is composed of independent shop owners with locations in California, the Carolinas, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Nova Scotia. 


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