By Hannah Schiffman
INDIANAPOLIS — The 2010 BodyShop Business Conference, held Sept. 17-18 at the Hilton Hotel & Suites in downtown Indianapolis, delivered to more than 150 attendees a blend of valuable industry insight, business knowledge and new technologies based around the theme "Succeeding Through Change."
The event kicked off Friday morning with keynote speaker George Avery, claims consultant with State Farm. Avery illustrated the changing collision repair landscape from an insurer’s point of view. He emphasized to the body shop owners and industry professionals in attendance that staying current on new technologies and understanding the evolving needs and wants of customers are key to shops’ success. Avery also hosted a breakout session, "How to Get on a DRP."
Avery was followed Friday by Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg, who discussed data privacy, emphasizing that shops must carefully consider contracts they sign with information providers to avoid sharing too much or the wrong kind of information about customers and shop performance. Schulenburg said the sharing of such information could lead to unreasonable expectations being placed on shops by insurers and other negative consequences. He also explained upcoming SCRS initiatives and the value of association membership.
Friday’s lineup also featured a panel discussion on lean principles featuring representatives from AkzoNobel, BASF, PPG and Sherwin-Williams. On Saturday, Garmat USA discussed equipment that makes lean shops more efficient, and BodyShop Business Publisher Scott Shriber spoke about protecting your "most valuable asset" your customer through excellent customer service, among other elements.
The conference also featured six breakout sessions, with attendees choosing from a variety of subjects, including:
Search Engine Optimization
Understanding Your Financials
EPA 6H Rule
Marketing to Women
Hiring and Attracting Qualified Techs
Attendees also visited the conference’s trade show floor, where roughly 20 companies displayed the latest technology to help shops "Succeed Through Change."
The show floor included showcases from conference sponsors AkzoNobel, BASF, CCC, FinishMaster, Garmat USA, PPG and PPG MVP Business Solutions and Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. Conference exhibitors that also participated in the show included: Anest Iwata, DuPont, Global Finishing Solutions, Herkules, I-CAR, Indiana Auto Body Association, Island Clean Air, Sagola USA, Scorpion Manufacturing and Urethane Supply.
I-CAR offered training on-site, and I-CAR Performance Training Coordinator Jeff Poole hosted breakout sessions on advanced metals and hybrid repair.
Conference attendees agreed that the two-day event offered the education and displays of a larger gathering but with access to speakers and suppliers that only a smaller event allows.
"It’s a great setting to meet and mingle with my colleagues in the industry and the companies I want access to," said Michael Kucharski of Al Gratz Body & Paint in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Debbie Moore of Diamond Collision in Avon, Ind., added that the conference was a great opportunity to network and provided an impressive array of speakers and educational opportunities usually found at larger events.
"I’m definitely bringing a lot of ideas back to the shop with me," she said.
Building on the success of the 2010 conference, BodyShop Business is already planning an event for 2011. More details will be available in the coming weeks.