AASP/NJ hosted its 2019 NORTHEAST® automotive services show the weekend of March 15--17 at the Meadowland Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.
For the second year, the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) coordinated the event’s Professional Repairer Education Program (P.R.E.P.). The event was a huge success with an unprecedented number of attendees crowding the registration area and the trade show floor. The caliber of the educational content was impressive, boasting household industry names such as Mike Anderson, Mark Olson and Aaron Clark.
According to AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee, “We are always looking to improve the show. After speaking to as many vendors and attendees as I could during the show, I found that their feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The show was so jam-packed from the moment the doors opened until they closed; it never stopped! Watching the show unfold and seeing how successful it has become was a proud moment.”
WMABA Executive Director Jordan Hendler added, “The NORTHEAST trade show and the Collision P.R.E.P. education went amazingly for us at WMABA. The caliber of attendees there was amazing; they were engaged and wanting to improve themselves and their businesses. The questions they asked at the classes show us they are trying to get in front of the changing landscape of this industry. This show is unlike any other, and we are so thrilled to be a part of it and work on the education aspects for the participants. Our goal is to give them the highest-caliber experience possible and have them leave feeling informed and empowered!”
This year’s show commenced on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. with the NORTHEAST 2019 East Coast Resolution Forum and Leadership Meeting, co-hosted by SCRS and AASP/NJ and moderated by LIABRA Executive Director Ed Kizenberger. This three-hour annual roundtable discussion provides an opportunity for industry professionals to share valuable information about their daily challenges and successes.
At 3 p.m., Brent Betts of AP Digital presented “Expand Your Customer Base – Reach More Online Collision Repair Customers.” He began by identifying the challenges that shops face and acknowledging that many shops are skeptical about marketing because they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Betts then pointed out that there is a huge opportunity in the collision repair industry with more than 1.54 million Google searches for collision repair each month.
“The great news is that consumers are actively searching for your services,” Betts noted. “Think of your website as a lead-generating machine. It’s the second side entrance to your lobby, but your website works 24/7 and can handle unlimited customers at the same time.”
After providing insights on the best way to monitor analytics to ensure the company website is generating leads and working for the business as effectively as possible, Betts dove into the differences between free and paid searches, discussed the most effective digital platforms and explored the most logical uses for social media for business. He also explained the importance of using online videos to invoke an emotional response.
He ended by encouraging attendees: “Look at where you’re at now and figure out how to get where you want to be.”
Next, Craig Seelinger, Vision+ program manager for BASF, presented “Business Data, Knowing Your Unknowns.” He explained that his discussion would focus on avoiding what he calls the “knowledge fallacy,” the belief that everyone knows what you know, and encouraged discussion, questions and open-mindedness throughout his presentation.
He noted, “The data we’re going to talk about can actually change your life and the life of those who work for you. Your business doesn’t come with instructions, but knowing your unknowns can be like receiving instructions.”
Some characteristics of good data include accuracy, completeness, consistency, uniqueness and timeliness.
Seelinger then provided examples of bad data.
“False, inaccurate data will give you a false, inaccurate analysis,” he said. “Wouldn’t you rather know how bad things are instead of painting a rosy, inaccurate picture? With bad data, you have a mess on your hands. If you like making bad decisions, keep putting bad data in your systems.”
Discussing common causes of stress in the workplace, Seelinger emphasized the need to improve culture in shops. He also explained the important business uses of data: indicates performance; determines areas for improvement; illustrates employee performance, financial performance and costs; allows you to differentiate the knowns from the unknowns; and overall, allows you to make smarter decisions.
Seelinger then continued to discuss the most effective ways to look at KPIs, labor types and other business data to discover the unknowns.
He shared, “To know the unknowns, you have to dig through tons of data. It’s like peeling back layers of an onion; it may make you cry, but don’t be afraid to go there … To identify the root cause of a problem, you’ll need more data to validate the right solution. The real problem and solution can’t be unknown unless that is completed. Once done, empower your people; they have solutions.”
At 7 p.m., the 2019 James Moy Memorial Award for Dedication to the Automotive Repair Industry was bestowed upon Marc Gabbard, owner of GSR Quality Collision Repair in Yakima, WA.
At the same time, Mike Anderson of Collision Advice unveiled his brand new seminar on “Justification for Scanning and Diagnostics.”
The P.R.E.P. training series resumed Saturday at 10 a.m. with three options for attendees.
During “OEM Repair Methods and Advanced Technologies,” Dave Gruskos of Reliable Automotive Equipment discussed the rapid changes in OEM certification as a result of ever-advancing technologies in the industry. Anderson discussed proper estimate writing and the importance of documentation in “Write It Right, with Life Nuggets to Live By.”
At the same time, asTech’s Frank Terlep presented “Automotive Industry Disruption: Will Your Business Be a Winner?” during which he discussed the major technology disruptions in the industry and identified ways that shops can survive and thrive. Terlep began by defining a disruption as something that happens when new products and services create a new market and, in the process, significantly weaken, transform or destroy existing product categories, markets or industries.
He noted, “What the industry is going through is a true disruption in the way people do their work.
“We cannot look at the automotive industry’s past performance to predict the future. It’s not just a disruption to the automotive industry; it’s a technology change. It’s also a business and ownership model disruption. Technology improves in cost and utility at an exponential rate. The entire automotive ecosystem is experiencing disruption. Everyone’s uncomfortable today.”
The disruption is caused by the fact that so many people get killed in automobiles; 1.3 million traffic deaths occur worldwide every year.
Terlep reminded attendees, “If you’re not looking at the OEM repair procedures before you touch the vehicle, you’re not repairing the vehicle properly.”
The four forces driving the disruption are electrification, connectivity, autonomous driving and diverse mobility. The forces of disruption also include the consumer, the vehicle, Maas and cybersecurity. Terlep explored these forces as well as possible solutions.
He stressed, “There are two ways to look at disruptions. You can believe that it means you’re doomed to fail, or you can see it as an opportunity. I always look at disruptions as an opportunity.”
At 12:30 p.m., an OEM panel on “The Changing Landscape in Certified Repair and Understanding the OEM Repair Procedures” featured Aaron Clark from Assured Performance, Leigh Guarnieri from Honda, Mark Allen from Audi, Kenneth Park from Volvo, Dave Gruskos from Reliable Automotive Equipment, and Rick Miller from Wadsworth International.
P.R.E.P. offered three options at 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon as well. Paul Stern of LiftNow Automotive Equipment discussed the evolution of ADAS and the importance of calibration and resetting these systems post-collision in “Safety System Alignment: A New Focus on Body Shop Profitability.” During “The Estimate Toolbox: Using FREE Resources to Complete an Accurate Vehicle Damage Repair Plan,” Danny Gredinberg of Database Enhancement Gateway explained how to use free resources online to document an estimate.
VECO Experts’ Mark Olson presented “Building the Bulletproof File: Documentation for Repair and Reducing Liabilities.” He started by asking attendees’ opinions on the current push for legislation regarding OEM procedures.
“It’s a good idea, but be careful what you wish for,” Olson stated. “How many of you are following OEM repair procedures 100 percent of the time? If you push legislation and you’re not following OEM procedures, you’re breaking the law. The legislation is a really good thing, but the industry is not ready for it. I want to impress upon you: we, as an industry, are not where we think we are.”
The items that should be contained in a bulletproof file include intake photos; the intake form; a log of all notes, texts, emails and other communications; a log of all internal notes (including parts ordering, adjuster communications and supplements), signed authorization; and photos of the damage, parts, repairs, welds, spray-out panels and everything else. The bulletproof file also includes invoices, a properly completed quality control sheet, the final quality control signed by the customer, all estimates and estimate changes, all supplement sheets, and everything used for the repair, including OEM information, glass urethane expiration dates, electronic resets and pre-scans.
Olson also advised shops to implement a 10-step quality process. First, the vehicle must be pre-scanned and diagnostics must be performed. Then, the vehicle should be properly checked in before reviewing all procedures at the time of the estimate. Structural procedures should be provided to the technician during the final repair plan meeting, and then the procedures must be followed and verified. Proper welds should be performed and verified, as should proper corrosion protection. Additionally, during each stage of the process, a QC sheet should be used and completed correctly. Refinish should be performed and verified, and then the final vehicle protection operations should be performed.
Noting that shops are bound to get shot at, Olson asked “Can you withstand the shot? Are your files bulletproof? You have to scan every car. You need to check OE position statements. You have to pull OEM repair procedures before writing your estimate. Every. Single. Time.”
The last P.R.E.P. seminar of the day was “Repairer to Repairer: Realities of Structural Repair and Tooling,” presented by K. Michael Bradshaw of K&M Collision.
The 10 a.m. sessions on Sunday morning included “Scanning and Calibration – Getting it Right for Successful ADAS Diagnostics,” presented by Chuck Olson of AirPro Diagnostics, as well as an encore presentation of Betts’ “Expand Your Customer Base – Reach More Online Collision Repair Customers.” John Shoemaker, business development manager for BASF, delivered some useful documentation tips to gain maximum reimbursement on a variety of operations during “Damage Assessment Documentation: Key Steps for Maximum Reimbursement.”
At 12:30 p.m., Sherwin-Williams’ Lee Rush presented “Evolution, Not Revolution: Agile Re-Manufacturing.” Gredinberg discussed “Not Included Operations – Commonly Missed Items in Estimating,” covering operations that are frequently missed on estimates, from the front office to the production environment. At the same time, AkzoNobel’s Charlie Whitaker discussed severity and what parts of it are under the shop’s control during “You Schedule How?”
The sold-out trade show portion of NORTHEAST 2019 was open Friday evening from 5--10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.--5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m.--3 p.m. Attendees visited booths manned by nearly 150 exhibitors, including Accudraft, AkzoNobel, Axalta, BASF, CCC, Ford, Intrepid Direct, LiftNow, LKQ, Mitchell, PPG, SATA, Sherwin-Williams and USI Italia, among many others.
During the trade show, BASF showcased Value Beyond Paint through the Vision+ suite of value-added tools and services, with experts on hand to demonstrate the tools’ features. The booth also featured two custom vehicles: a Goolsby Customs 1974 Plymouth Duster and a Customs by Kilkeary ’56 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible. Jonathan Goolsby signed autographs on the trade show floor. Sherwin-Williams’ booth featured a meet-and-greet with Ryan Evans of "Counting Cars."
On Friday night, AASP/NJ hosted its Annual Exhibitor Appreciation After-Party at the Embassy Suites Meadowlands, and on Sunday, the association held its 11th Annual NORTHEAST Family Day, sponsored by CARSTAR.
Sponsors of NORTHEAST 2019 included BASF, Ford, American Honda Motor Company, PPG, NJ Parts of Flemington, Innovative Solutions and Technology/Pro Spot International, Axalta, Sherwin-Williams, Harbourtouch, and CARSTAR.
AASP/NJ's 42nd Annual NORTHEAST automotive services show is scheduled for March 20--22, 2020. For more information, visit www.aaspnjnortheast.com.