All this week, AMN is bringing you blog posts from attendees of the Automotive Communications Council (ACC) annual conference, taking place in San Antonio, Texas. Today, we hear from Shawn Collins, founder and CEO of The EXTEND Group. Collins gives us a play-by-play of the energetic dialogue taking place at this year’s ACC Conference. Collins observes that the conference theme of “Connect and Hold’em” can be found throughout the presentations at the two-day event.
It’s 1:45 p.m. on day number two of #acc2019 and Georgianne Dickey from NTN Bearing Corporation welcomes everyone back from a very Texas connected bar-b-que networking luncheon. Jim Merle from Babcox Media is introduced as the CEO (Chief Engagement Officer) of the Emerging Technology and Its Impact on Training Technician Panel.
Jim proceeds to introduce and welcome Rolf Blaettner, owner/president at Christian Brothers Automotive; Rusty Belden, president, Belden’s Automotive & Tires; and Donny Seyfer, Executive Officer at NSA, as well as industry-recognized second generation shop owner. Jim starts off the conversation by continuing a previous session topic of “How’s business?” Rolf leads off the discussion by letting ACC members know that business is good, but it has changed.
Rolf discusses the lingering challenges shop owners face in recruiting/retaining qualified talent, the increasing costs associated with gaining access to diagnostic equipment, and the limited access to affordable training solutions for his technicians. His shops are using technologies such as webinars as well as other online content in an attempt to curb the current knowledge gaps relating to today’s vehicle when programs are available. Rolf then says we are in a real-world business reality today of “Knowledge is Power.” Wait…what was that? That’s a compelling statement. We’ve used it for nearly a decade at EXTEND. This statement then becomes a “connecting and hold’em” theme for the remainder of the afternoon session.
Now it’s Rusty’s turn to chime in. Rusty echoes Rolf’s sentiments and when asked how he preferred to receive training for his shops, he says, “We have no say in what training we receive. We’re using what’s being delivered by our distribution partners to stay connected to knowledge. We’ve never been asked, ‘Hey Rusty, what type of training do you need right now for your technicians?’” He continues to educate ACC members on the current state of the vehicles and customers that enter his shop daily. Cars don’t break as often, although when they do they break big, Rusty says. [Today,] 200,000-mile vehicles are the new norm.
Enter Donny Seyfer into the conversation. Donny echoes Rusty’s sentiments of when cars do break they break big, and emphasizes the importance of routine maintenance programs for his customers. Today’s consumer does not know what they don’t know, and we must educate them to keep them coming back. If not, that’s on us. Training is a requirement, not an option in our shop culture, Donny explains. If training is not for a tech, maybe we’re not the right place for the tech. Knowledge is power. Donny continues to connect ACC members to his current shop culture when he says, “Diagnostic equipment/tools are becoming easier and easier to buy today, the real investment we make is the comprehensive training for our techs on the tool.”
He then connects us into another “knowledge is power” moment when he states, “Our industry was once built on ‘show me the problem, give me the replicable tasks required to fix this problem, and then get out of my way.’ Today’s technicians require core system competencies to properly diagnose and maintain today’s connected vehicle. The problem to solution to next fix model of training will not cut it on the sophisticated vehicle of today.”
Jim continues to engage the connected ACC members by asking them to chime in on the conversation. ACC members pose the question of how many shop owners today know of the Right to Repair Act being debated in Washington. There was an overwhelming response from the panel that 99% of shop owners today do NOT know this is a current reality or that they need to educate their customers to contact their legislators to keep the data connection open to the aftermarket. There were so many knowledge bits presented in this panel discussion. I urge ACC members to not “hold’em,” but to act on them.
Wow…we need a break.
Georgianne Dickey welcomes #ACC2019 members back from their break and proceeds to introduce Katie Mares from Katie Mares Consulting, to discuss Effective Communication and Creating Followers. Katie’s energy immediately gains the connection of the room and begins to engage and hold her audience on how to inspire a following. Katie asks ACC members to channel their inner child, to ask 144 questions a day, and to have fun! She invites ACC members to contemplate the power of their words and to engage in an “Interaction over Transaction” culture within their organizations. Katie then drops a stat that sends ACC jaws to the floor – a recent Harvard Business Review study reported that 58% of people say they trust complete strangers over their own boss. Does this resonate with you or your current culture? If so, you might want to connect with Katie.
She continues to educate ACC members on her CREATE connection formula, encouraged members to meet their peers on common ground, to be consistent with every team member every time. Platinum is the new golden rule, she said. Katie urges the room to flip the lens, and ask themselves: What do my words sound like from the other side? Know your following. Knowledge is power. Katie ends her CEO (Chief Engagement Officer) session by reminding each #ACC2019 attendee the choice is theirs on how they choose to lead, be consistent…every time.
Claps and cheers welcomed back Jacki Lutz of Sensata Technologies to the microphone. Jacki makes her closing remarks as the current president of the ACC. She thanks everyone for attending this year #ACC2019 Conference. What a success! Jacki then introduces Georgianne Dickey from NTN Bearing Corp. as the next president of the ACC. Georgianne enthusiastically thanks Jacki for her commitment to the ACC and the conference and proceeds to present Jacki with a surprise crystal award for her outstanding service to the ACC.
Georgianne then shifts the emphasis to the future by establishing a drum roll for the big announcement of next year’s #ACC2020 Conference location. She draws out the suspense and announced that ACC is taking the conference to the heart of the ad world. #ACC2019 will be held in New York City, specifically in Times Square. Wow!
Georgianne continues to excite the ACC conference attendees as she highlights the featured presenters for the 2020 conference, including speakers from Facebook, Google and TED. Wait a minute, pinch me, am I at an automotive conference? Oh yes, I am, and the ACC is bringing what’s relevant to its members. With the energy still at a high, Georgianne then calls for ACC members to join the ACC board, join a committee, or become active within the organization.
Georgianne also announces that Jim Merle, from Babcox Media, will be the next vice president of the ACC with a confetti congratulations slide. Cheers ring loud across the hall from this announcement. #ACC2019 members are once again thanked, asked to take action on their “Give Back” initiative, and to continue networking for the greater good of the industry. After all, knowledge is power and it is best dealt when your knowledge is shared to “Connect and Hold’em” across the entire automotive industry.