There’s an important question everyone in the collision repair industry should ask themselves, according to award-winning journalist and communication trainer Jeff Ansell: If your body shop or business is accused of transgressions, real or imagined, would you know how to respond to the media?
“There is no shortage of bad-news scenarios or allegations the collision repair industry could experience, whether that includes allegations of deliberately damaging cars, installing used parts but billing for new ones, or invoicing for phantom repairs,” said Ansell. “The answer is to have the skills necessary to properly tell your story to all stakeholders, especially when the news about your organization is not positive.”
During the 16th annual CSN Collision Centres conference held in Scottsdale, AZ, in November, Ansell offered insight on how to confidently communicate with the media during a crisis. This included how to respond to difficult questions, confidently tell a business’s story and frame the media narrative before others frame it.
Ansell’s perspective was based on his experience over the years as an investigative reporter and a media and crisis communications advisor.
People often ask Ansell why it’s important to be media-trained and rehearse answering questions when all you have to do is tell the truth.
Every day, he said, the media, especially social media, sets the public agenda that can impact a business.
“A social media onslaught focusing on you and your business can come at you like an avalanche,” said Ansell.
Not only will good communication help manage a business’s reputation, he said, but it will also help the problem dissipate more quickly.
“Regardless of what the future holds, communication will always be a big part of it,” said Ansell. “What you say and how you say it to the media, customers and employees are very important now, more than ever, because communication these days is beyond instant.”
Undercover investigations involving hidden cameras are very common in this line of work and can portray auto repair shops and the people who work in them as incompetent, dishonest and, in some cases, criminals, according to Ansell.