Color Compass leads the automotive refinish and specialty market distribution industries by providing sustainable and profitable business solutions.

CCIF Toronto Shines Spotlight on Industry Collaboration

The sold-out event brought opportunities to learn, network, share information, and collaborate on solutions to common industry issues.

by Collision Quarterly, photos: Iva Kestrankova

The first Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) of 2023 was held in Toronto, Ontario, from February 2 to 3. The event was sold out and well-attended by professionals from all over Canada, and there was even a few guests from the United States. However, despite the high attendance, newly-appointed CCIF chairman Jeff Labanovich called for more shop owners and managers to attend in future. “My goal is that half of this room are collision repairers,” said Labanovich, as he pointed to the packed room on day two of the conference.

No two collisions are the same, and no two CCIF events are the same either. While all CCIF events aim to bring the industry together to discuss current challenges and emerging trends (and offer different perspectives on a variety of collision-related issues), what made this conference especially attractive was the wide range of topics, which included parts management, electric vehicle (EV) adoption, female recruitment and motivation, and towing and storage management.

"No two collisions are the same, and no two CCIF events are the same either.”

Jeff Labanovich, CCIF chairman, and Paul Prochilo, Advantage Parts Solutions
2023 CCIF Toronto was a sold-out event with 480 registered attendees.

Focusing on execution

The two-day event kicked off with an afternoon workshop presented by John Cox, AkzoNobel’s business services manager (Canada). He based his lecture on the main pillars in the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, written by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. Cox demonstrated how these principles can be applied to collision repair businesses to help change the mindset and behaviour of people within the industry.

Cox sees the greatest challenges to execution as follows: bringing focus to actions, concentrating on direction, and sustaining those actions. “Everyone has ideas, but execution is all that really matters,” said Cox. He said it is important to understand that the ability to successfully execute comes down to applying both strategy and tactics.

Cox believes that implementing these four disciplines in collision repair businesses can lead to a continuous and ongoing improvement process:

Discipline I: Focus on the wildly important — The reason is simple: if you try to fix too many things at the same time, you are going to fail at them all.

Discipline II: Act on lead measures — In other words, focus on something measurable that you can do in real-time.

Discipline III: Keep a compelling scoreboard — It is proven that people try harder when someone is keeping score. Keep the scoreboard simple and visible to all employees.

Discipline IV: Create a cadence of accountability — Let your work team be part of the solution as well as part of the problem. Hold each other accountable for weekly/monthly commitments to action.

“You need some sustainable commitment. If you want to achieve a certain goal, don’t focus on the goal itself, but on the lead measures that drive the goal,” said Cox in closing. “The real power of The 4 Disciplines is performing them in sequential order—each one sets the stage for the next.”

The day concluded with a networking reception, providing all attendees with a chance to meet and mingle.

Charles Boivin, CSN Collision Centres, and Koos and Cari Reineking, Lift Auto Group

Changing automotive landscape

The first presentation of the day was delivered by  Guido Vildozo, senior manager for Americas Light Vehicles Sales Forecasting at S&P Global Mobility. Vildozo discussed some of the trends associated with transitioning from a combustion engine fleet to battery electric vehicles. Due to several factors, such as semiconductor chip shortages, the ongoing Russian-Ukraine conflict, rising inflation, and government mandates for EV sales, it is predicted that most vehicles will be 30-35% more expensive.

For OEMs, this means that it might not be feasible to offer vehicles in a certain price range, which could affect affordability for consumers and potentially lead to fewer cars on the road.

Additionally, vehicle sales are predicted to remain weak due to ongoing challenges with semiconductor availability. Vildozo demonstrated that while 10 years ago, 700 chips were required to manufacture a car, in 2023, the number of required chips more than doubled. An average battery electric vehicle requires even more, about 2,200 chips.

Reducing waste to improve profitability

Paul Gange’s presentation, titled Optimizing the Parts Supply Chain, highlighted the need for optimization in the collision repair industry. He suggested that every stakeholder in the industry has some level of “waste” built into their processes, limiting the industry’s ability to optimize.

Gange, president of North America, Advantage Parts Solutions, proposed a new vision for the industry that would allow it to work towards optimization for the benefit of everyone, especially vehicle owners. He emphasized the need for leveraging technology, data, and training to improve repair processes, cash flow, and profitability.

Teaming up with the towing industry

Lane Bailey, vice president of ELC Solutions, reminded attendees that towing and storage have always posed a challenge for the collision repair industry, and choosing reputable and trustworthy partners can make a big difference. It can even save a body shop money. “You need towers, they need you. Work together for the common good,” appealed Bailey. “Because when you have quality towers and quality dispatch programming, you’re going to reduce cycle time dramatically.”

Using Ontario as an example, Bailey pointed out that there are approximately 25 municipalities with legislative tow guidelines in the province, while there is a much greater number of municipalities in Ontario with no legislation. This lack of regulations often makes it difficult to set towing rates. As Bailey said, only experienced and properly trained tow operators are able to set rates at fair market value when there are no regulatory guidelines in place.

You cannot improve what you do not measure

Improving processes to make production more efficient is an ultimate goal for all collision repair businesses. To determine where a repair facility stands in terms of cycle time, touch time, or labour efficiency, the collision repair industry has adopted key performance indicators (KPI) as a standard to measure performance and improvement.

In his presentation, titled Constrained by KPIs, Stefano Liessi, lead consultant and trainer at Canadian Collision Specialist, reminded everyone that identifying and tracking metrics can sometimes be problematic, given no two collisions or repair plans are the same.

At the same time, Liessi stressed the importance of transparently and accurately tracking all data, not just some. “Whatever is done to satisfy the service needs to be tracked. You cannot be cherry-picking your KPI metrics; you have to track everything,” he said. “If you are not accounting for everything, or your data is not accurate, your KPI is constraining you.”

"If you are not accounting for everything, or your data is not accurate, your KPI is constraining you.”

Damon Aldrich, EV strategy development director, Enterprise Holdings
Kristle Bollans, director, Hertz Corporation

The road to electrification

Damon Aldrich, EV strategy development director at Enterprise Holdings, reported on his company’s efforts to embrace the electric transition in the automotive industry. He mentioned that one of the biggest challenges of the next decade is going to be public charging infrastructure. Aldrich stated that there is a lot of work to do to establish open standards, which requires collaboration with many stakeholders such as installers, hardware providers, software providers, authorities with different jurisdictions, and utilities.

Aldrich emphasized that for a fleet operator like Enterprise, the flexibility of charging infrastructure and the availability of easily accessible energy supply are crucial factors in making EV operations feasible for rental fleets. This also includes the courtesy cars that are provided to a customer as an insurance replacement vehicle while their own vehicle is being repaired.

Supporting women in collision repair

The final speaker, Kristle Bollans from Hertz Corporation, shared her personal journey in the collision repair industry. As a member of the board of the Women’s Industry Network (WIN), Bollans introduces WIN’s efforts to help women overcome barriers to join the industry such as a lack of exposure to the trades, misunderstandings of what trades jobs entail, and a lack of mentorship programs.

Bollans detailed the network’s opportunities for sponsorship, membership, and education. “WIN is all about building networks, recognizing leaders, and funding scholarships for students,” she said.

Bollans concluded her speech by quoting a powerful message from Rosemary Brown, the first woman of colour elected to the provincial government of British Columbia: “We must open the doors and see to it that they remain open, so that others can pass through.”

Cover photo: Fix Network team