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Customer Satisfaction Measurements Should Be a Priority

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Does customer satisfaction exist? No. Not in the HD repair industry, anyway.

There are too many players, too many constituents, too many people that are not “customers” that influence the process and the outcome of an HD repair. We are not selling T-shirts online. Some days, we probably wish we were. This is a more complex business. There are nuances to be considered in every unique repair.

Still, we have an innate desire to do the right thing. To provide great service to the HD owners, fleet managers, insurance company representatives, TPA’s and OE’s; to work efficiently with paint companies, parts providers, and multiple other vendors.

To help keep ourselves on track and ensure we are doing things the right way, we rely heavily on measurements. We have financials that include P&L’s, balance sheets, income statements and breakouts of business units that tell us how much money is in the bank. We measure cycle time, and parts, and paint usage. We track how many hours our employees work and how much money we are spending on marketing as a percentage of sales. Measurements are everywhere.

But for many of us, measurements of customer satisfaction- commonly called CSAT- remain an afterthought. But-there are those words again– customer satisfaction. Although it is probably not an adequate descriptor, I may have to revert to using it in a very generic and holistic sense, since there is no word (that I can think of) that more accurately describes everyone and all the organizations that influence a repair in the HD industry.

The comparison of financial statements and customer satisfaction is an interesting exercise. And, if not an actual exercise, (likely due to inadequate CSAT data points), at least an interesting philosophical discussion. Where does CAST show up on the balance sheet? Well, it doesn’t. Assuming you are making money (let’s hope so!) how can you therefore determine if the numbers in financials represent good profit or bad profit? Is there such a thing as bad profit? Yes- but let’s just say not-so-good profit. What is not-so-good profit (NSGP)?

  • NSGP values policy over relationships, making it more likely that costs will be driven up in the future due to short-term gains in the present
  • NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, causing future brand deterioration by negative word of mouth
  • NSGP allows customers to remain unsatisfied, driving up future service costs that you may not be able to get compensated for
  • NSGP measures cycle time, but not comeback percentage
  • NSGP gums up the works by tying up your resources with complaints or re-work, that as an additional side effect is also quite de-motivating, if prevalent enough

Interestingly, without customers, there would be no need for financial statements, paint, parts, or much of anything else for that matter. Yet, some owners and managers relay on the old “I know my customers”, “I know everything that is going on in my business” mantra. There are two major reason why, even if partially true, it is best practice to systematically verify your beliefs.

First, customers won’t tell you everything they will tell a computer screen or a live agent with whom they have no history or personal investment. And, with your best source of future work being a recommendation, it is vital to harvest this feedback. Even customers that are completely satisfied can provide valuable information for future operational improvements and future products and services.

In a study of thousands of customer satisfaction surveys, TenPoint Complete found that even those customers that rated the overall experience a 9 or a 10 on a ten-point scale, approximately 25% of them had some aspect of the experience they thought could have been improved.

That brings up a second point, which is that expectation levels are constantly changing. You are not only compared to your peers in the industry, but to other service providers, some of which are doing a very good job. Many, however, are still not exceeding expectations, or creating raving fans. This is actually good news, as you have the opportunity to step-up and position yourself in the mind of the customer (insurance company, fleet manager, OE, TPA etc.) as an exceptional provider.

A recent personal example of a service failure occurred when I ordered checks from my bank (yes, still need the paper kind on occasion). Long story short, it took over three weeks and several frustrating phone calls to accomplish this task. My feedback was straightforward: Providing check re-orders should be a core service competency. The expectation level today is not two or three weeks on a request of this nature- it is two or three days.

There are certainly many additional advantages to CSAT measurement. If this has at least provided some food for thought, I’ll wrap up with some best practices or characteristics of CSAT measurement.

The Six C’s of CSAT Measurement

Commitment From the top. The owners, executives, and managers that sponsor or initiate the programs must be fully invested in their implementation, or it will be very difficult to achieve the goals.

Customer Focused Strategy Sounds obvious, but the measurements need to create action. For example, customers need to be followed up with upon receipt of negative feedback. How many times have you given negative feedback and not been acknowledged? Not good!

Consistent Many companies produce an annual CSAT measurement. While this is better than nothing, it leaves a lot on the table, like the opportunity to impact corporate culture and the ability to use results as part of an overall management tool and philosophy.

Complex Not! Complex measurements and formulas are interesting to statisticians and people who work in the industry, but not many others! Survey questions, reports, and other tools should be straightforward, intuitive, and easily understood.

Comprehensive From a methodology standpoint, you may want to consider a company that utilizes omni-channel communication. For example, the ability to survey via SMS (text), E-mail, and live agent. Also, having the option of an invitation to social media may be of interest.

Credible Measurements need to be credible to influence your important stakeholders and constituents. Producing the measurements yourself or relying on a company that does not have a core focus in CSAT measurement may dilute your efforts.

In future installments, we will explore more specific uses for the measurements in the HD environment and some of the most widely used tools for this type of strategic initiative.

The Demystification of M&A – Part 4.a. SOPs in M&A

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In our previous articles, we broke down the numerous motivations from both a buyer’s and a seller’s perspective morn considering a merger or acquisition (“M&A”). Now it’s time to look at the M&A process.

There are exceptions to every rule, except the rule that there’s always exceptions to rules…

No two collision repairs are identical. Similarly, no two M&A deals are exactly alike. In the more than 100 closed deals that I have participated in (and the few hundred more that didn’t close), there was always a wrinkle, an exception. However, also like collision repair, there are certain steps that typically are followed in every deal – some SOPs. Here’s a breakdown of the major steps in the M&A process, and for those who have had an unpleasant marriage experience, please pardon the analogy:

Beautifying: Just like blueprinting a collision repair job, proper planning is critical to maximizing the outcome of a deal. For a buyer, this includes securing financing, ensuring the existing company is stable enough to function effectively, without the owner for an extended period of time, lining up key vendors, deputizing a deal team, etc. For a seller, the process begins months to even years earlier and is focused on areas such as having clean financials, tightening up operations so that the shop is meeting or exceeding widely-followed KPIs, shoring up key referral sources, vendors, and employees, and performing any deferred maintenance. Savvy sellers also assemble a dream team of advisors (i.e., a tax expert, transaction attorney, and a banker/broker if the deal is sufficiently large), and they perform the same due diligence on themselves that a buyer eventually would do. If there’s a skeleton in the closet, it’s far better for the seller to find it than a buyer.

Courting: Finding a deal means very different things to a buyer and a seller. Buyers tend to prefer exclusive deals, those deals that no other buyer is involved (a.k.a., “non-auction deal flow”). This requires a proactive, disciplined system of regularly contacting potential targets, along with playing an active role in the industry by attending events, like the HD Repair Forum. As for sellers, the process of identifying a potential buyer is very different. Oftentimes, this is left to the seller’s banker/broker; DIY sellers typically reach out to people they know, including peers and competitors. The critical take-way at this stage is to preserve confidentiality. Once the word is out that a shop is for sale, referral sources get concerned and key employees (i.e., those most desirable by your competitors) get mobile.

Dating: Once a few potential suitors have been identified, it’s time to spend some time together. Shrewd buyers will ask for as much data as possible about the seller’s referral sources, financials, customers, employees, and facilities & equipment. Shrewd sellers will already have this package prepared and formatted to tell a story that makes the business look most attractive to potential buyers. This may require different versions if there are multiple types of buyers. Typically, a walkthrough also occurs at this stage so the buyer can assess capacity and necessary capital expenditures to integrate it into its existing operations (Note to sellers: conduct the walkthrough at night!). The buyer’s goal at this stage is to complete a valuation of the business and identify the key deal terms.

Our next article will focus on the latter stages of completing a deal. Stay tuned!

Comments / questions / criticisms? Are you contemplating a deal that might fit into one of these categories and you want to ensure you’re making a sound decision? Feel free to e-mail me: john.walcher@veritasadvisorsinc.com – I’m happy to explore the circumstances with you. Our next article will explore the anatomy of a deal. Until then, happy dealing!

Heavy-Duty Truck Repair Provides Limitless Opportunities to Rural Business

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In 2002, Chris Lindstrom started Practical Applications, a specialty manure handling and spreading business in Durand, Wisconsin. He managed a fleet of semis and truck-mounted spreaders designed to handle any size field at any distance from the client’s farm.

Two years later, he expanded his services, acquired another facility and started Maxville Truck and Repair. Maxville now offers custom truck builds and truck alterations, silage, grain and TMR trucks, and new truck sales.

His niche was noticed from hundreds of miles away. The business grew rapidly via word of mouth and reached areas such as Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky and even Australia. Through the growth, Lindstrom recognized a need for heavy-duty truck repair.

After 10 years of coordinating with outside painters and sandblasters, Lindstrom was ready to expedite the process and bring painting services in-house. He reached out to local paint booth manufacturer, Global Finishing Solutions (GFS).

“I didn’t do any shopping around,” Lindstrom said. “GFS was down the road, and I knew they produced quality paint booths. I even trucked the paint booth over myself. It took two trips, but it was worth it.”

In June 2014, Maxville Truck and Repair started up their new 18-by-16-by-50-foot drive-thru crossdraft Heavy-Duty Truck Paint Booth for the first time. Since then, Lindstrom has stuck to the same paint scheme for his fleet of trucks — Massey Ferguson Red, black and a silver/gray metallic.

“With our truck paint booth, we produce consistent, clean and quality work,” Lindstrom mentioned. “It has improved our image 100 percent.”

In a dirty business like manure, it is going above and beyond that makes Maxville stand out — as a supplier and an employer.

“The paint booth isn’t for me, it’s for my people,” Lindstrom added. “My drivers take pride in what they’re doing. They look professional and they put out better work. I also didn’t want my people spraying in an unsafe and dirty environment.”

Lindstrom is a jack of many trades. He builds and paints hose reels, fabricates bumpers, and paints custom trucks and trailers. With sandblasting and painting services in-house, there is not much they cannot do.

“I don’t buy anything new,” Lindstrom said. “We have the ability to put anything together. We can fix it up and make anything look good.”

Since the addition of their truck paint booth, Lindstrom has also noticed he is able to rapidly turn trucks over.

“Our truck paint booth has definitely shortened the time it takes to get trucks done,” Lindstrom explained. “It has improved how I look with my fleet. It’s pretty cool that I can make my stuff look awesome.”

Heavy-Duty Truck Repair Pays Off

Businesses that perform heavy-duty truck repairs are hard to come by, especially in rural areas. When an oversized vehicle is in an accident, the nearest shop with a paint booth large enough to accommodate it is sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Although Maxville is not positioned directly off an interstate, Lindstrom saw the potential in adding a truck paint booth. Without a single competitor within two hours, he is able to assist his customers in repairing large vehicles. Depicted below is a $10,000 to $12,000 truck job, which can be a week’s worth of work for the company.

The purchase of a heavy-duty truck paint booth is a game-changer for most shops. Not only does it increase the physical paint booth footprint, it can also boost their bottom line. Maxville Truck and Repair is a prime example, as they can accommodate practically anything that is oversized.

HD Repair Forum Secures Plans for 2020 Event

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Plans for the third annual HD Repair Forum have been confirmed. The 2020 event is scheduled for March 24-25 at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. Registration will open in the fall of 2019. To keep up to date with the HD Repair Forum’s agenda, speakers, and current news in the commercial vehicle collision repair industry, sign up for the monthly HD Repair Forum newsletter.

“The HD Repair Forum brings together all stakeholders from the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The event provides attendees an opportunity to discuss trends, address industry challenges, and evaluate key business strategies.” explains Jennie Lenk, Communications Manager for the HD Repair Forum.

The 2019 event saw significant growth from its inaugural meeting, proving the HD Repair Forum, with the guidance of its advisory board members, is addressing the needs of the industry.

A few of the highlights from the 2019 event included presentations from Daimler, Navistar, Peterbilt, Volvo, Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) and I-CAR. Session topics focused on a myriad of industry issues such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), electric and hybrid vehicles, liquified and compressed natural gas vehicles, and a panel of insurance executives discussing claims handling and industry collaboration.

“Attendees also witnessed a historic announcement and well earned recognition, as I-CAR acknowledged Penske Truck Collision of Norcross, Georgia, as the first-ever commercial vehicle collision repair facility with an I-CAR Gold Class certification,” states Lenk.

In addition to presentations, attendees gathered valuable knowledge for business sustainability and growth in a series of breakout sessions designed around process improvement and profitability.

Companies interested in participating can do so through sponsorship and advertising opportunities that are now available. Call 281-819-2332 or visit the website for more information.

Interested in getting more involved, or even hosting a co-located event? Send your inquiries to Brian Nessen BrianN@hdrepalrforum.com or Jennie Lenk JennieL@hdrepairforum.com

Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Industry Conference Nearly Doubles in Year Two

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Earlier this month, heavyduty collision repairers, insurers, OEM’s and vendors from across North America made their way to the Historic Hilton in downtown Fort Worth, Texas to participate at the 2nd Annual HD Repair Forum. This unique event assembles the leadership and brightest minds in the collision repair industry representing each of the various stakeholders. Brian Nessen, co-founder of the event, reported a 40% growth in attendance over last year’s event. This type of growth sends a strong message that the industry needs, and wants, to have a place to bring everyone together to network and professionally discuss the most pressing and sensitive industry issues.

Show organizers were quick to point out that the success of the HD Repair Forum is directly attributed to the contributions and commitment of its’ 15member advisory board. The advisory board is comprised of collision repair shop owners and managers who have been engaged from the onset of the program. Their leadership and knowledge was on full display during the twoday event.

 

The forum’s 250+ attendees were treated to two days filled with managerial and technical training classes, as well as industry-related programs. Every session provided steps to prepare for the future, which is critical as this industry evolves at an expedited pace.

A growing number of executives representing OEM truck manufacturers and insurance companies further highlighted the goal of the Forum: to bring together people and companies with the power to facilitate change. These individuals not only were in attendance and engaged with the industry, but several of them gave formal presentations or shared their knowledge and experience by participating on a panel. The energy derived from their participation confirmed that the industry has an opportunity to impact change by working together to the benefit of the vehicle or fleet owner.

Dates and location have not yet been announced for the 2020 HD Repair Forum but show organizers did state the event would be expanding and larger venues in Fort Worth were being studied to accommodate the growth.

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Four OEMs to Speak at HD Repair Forum

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Houston, Texas, March 21, 2019 – Four commercial vehicle manufacturers have signed-on to present at the second annual HD Repair Forum. Volvo Group North America, Daimler Trucks North America, PACCAR, maker of Peterbilt, and Navistar, manufacturer of International and IC Buses understand the value in providing the heavy-duty collision repair industry with increased communication.

Each of the leaders’ presentations during the two-day event will deliver key insight on new vehicle technology, which will have a profound impact on both the collision repair and transportation markets.

Until recently, the heavy-duty collision repair industry did not have an event dedicated to businesses needs, education, and interests of the market. The HD Repair Forum now provides industry leaders a place to gather, communicate, collaborate, and network with peers, stakeholders, and key influencers

Beyond new vehicle technology, the OEMs will also discuss solutions to parts identification, availability, and pricing. All of which are areas of concern for repairers today.

The HD Repair Forum aims to foster growth and progress in the heavy-duty collision repair industry through the exchange of knowledge, experience, and feedback from all industry stakeholders. Repair facility owners and managers, insurance representatives and appraisal companies, OEMs of commercial vehicles, and those who manufacture parts, equipment, or services for those vehicles will gather April 2nd- 3rd in Fort Worth, Texas at the Hilton Fort Worth.

To take part in this year’s industry changing event register at hdrepairforum.com/register2019

A complete agenda for the HD Repair Forum can be found at:
www.hdrepairforum.com/agenda

Speakers from participating OEs are below. A complete list of conference speakers can be found at hdrepairforum.com/speakers

Replacing Foams, NVH Materials and Other Products in the Heavy-Duty Truck Collision Shop

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There are several functions that foams and NVH materials perform in the Heavy-Duty Trucks and Commercial Vehicles of today.  Reducing noise, vibration, and harshness(NVH) are the most obvious.  The performance of these products has a significant impact on the driving experience for the vehicle operator and occupants.  Vehicle foams stiffen the body structure and help control twisting and flexing of the vehicle. Additionally, foams have an influence on the design and affect the performance of energy management in the event of a collision.  So, ultimately, these materials impact the crash protection and safety of the occupants of the vehicle. It is important in the collision repair process to inspect and replace these Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) materials as needed to ensure the quality and performance of the vehicle following the repair.  Replacing the foam is a process that can be easily overlooked or skipped. Failure to restore the form and function of the foams can have a significant impact on the trucks daily operation (noise and comfort) and crash worthiness (occupant safety).

When we talk about foams and NVH material, what exactly are we talking about?  Structural foams typically come in or on the replacement part, as these foams are not available in an aftermarket product format.  The replacement foams fall into two categories; Rigid Foams and Flexible Foams.

  • Rigid foams, like 3M™ Pillar Foam PN 08458, are designed to provide reinforcement and stiffness to vehicle structures such as posts, pillars, cab corner extensions, and other cavities. These foams provide stiffness which reduces twisting and flexing of the vehicle structure, panel flutter, and metal fatigue. Rigid foams should be used on repairs wherever OEM rigid foams were originally utilized.  
  • Flexible foams, such as 3M™ Flexible Foam PN 08463, are designed and used to absorb and control sound, block air movement, and fill large cavities. Typical locations for this type of foam are floor pans, rockers, cab corner extensions, and other body cavities. Flexible foams should be used on repairs wherever OEM flexible foams were used.  
  • Structural foams are very dense foams utilized for collision energy management.  They are typically found in rails and pillars.

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of common foam applications
Images courtesy of John Spoto

Another product used in these applications is NVH material, such as 3M™ NVH Dampening Material PN 04274.

                                            

 

 

 

Example of NVH Dampening Material
Image courtesy of John Spoto

This material is designed to be used for replacing or re-installing factory NVH sealants and foams. They can eliminate vibration and reduce noise between panels, braces, and intrusion beams.  The NVH Dampening Material performs well in attaching existing foam to panels, filling small gaps where foam cannot be used or easily replaced, and for sealing edges of cut, open, or damaged foam (see picture below).
                                 

                                                       

 

 

Image Courtesy of I-CAR

The repair and replacement process should begin by identifying the OEM location of the foams for that specific vehicle make and model.  This information should be identified through the OEM website, technical bulletins, and recommended repair procedures. Identify the location and type of foams on the repair vehicle.  Inspect the condition of the foam for damaged material that will need to be removed and replaced. Determine the best replacement material based on foam type, cell structure, compression, density, and texture. Foam Flow Rate and Foam Time should also be considered based on the access point and location where the foam is needed.  The volume of foam needed can be calculated using the expansion rate of the foam and the volume of the area being filled. Remove any damaged foam, undamaged foam can be left in place. Abrasives, chisels, knives, scrappers, and rolling the foam off by hand are all methods used to remove foams. Heat can be useful to remove undamaged foam for reuse.   If welding will be performed in the area, remove all foam, regardless of condition, to reduce the risk of a fire and toxic fumes. Clean and dry the surfaces that will be receiving foam with a water-based and solvent -based cleaner being careful to avoid getting liquid on any existing foam. Prime all bare metal with an epoxy or other approved 2K direct-to-metal primer; never use 1K aerosol primer. Once the primer has dried according to the product data sheet, install the foam.  The use of an extension tube may be necessary to access the cavity. A dam may also be needed to hold the foam into a specific area.
                                  

                 

 

 


Example of a Dam (Left) and Extension tube being used to increase access (Right)

Images Courtesy of I-CAR       

As with any repair process, proper PPE should always be worn.  A respirator, chemical resistant gloves, eye and face protection, and a paint suit are all safety equipment that should be used when working with foams and NVH materials.  Expandable foams are flammable, caution should be taken, and a fire extinguisher should be available when a heat source is being used near foams.

High quality foams that are designed for the collision repair industry are typically 2-part urethane closed-cell foams.  This type of foam is needed to meet OEM performance requirements such as temperature and moisture resistance. Consumer foams that are found at home improvement stores should not be used for vehicle collision repair applications.  These foams are typically one-part, open-cell urethane foams that require moisture to cure. If this material is applied to a part or inside a body panel where moisture isn’t present, the foam may never cure and can result in voids or hollow spots.

                                             

 

 

 

Open cell, consumer foam, Image Courtesy of I-CAR

Being an open-cell foam, this material can absorb and hold moisture which may cause corrosion issues.  Another limitation of the consumer foams is vibration resistance, these foams can break down from the excessive vibration found in today’s heavy-duty trucks and commercial vehicles.   

Sound deadening pads are another product commonly found on heavy trucks and commercial vehicles.  These pads, such as 3M™ Sound Deadening Pads PN 08840, are placed on a variety of interior panels to block and reduce road noise, engine sounds, panel vibration, and other noises.                        

 

 

 

 

 

Sound Deadening Pad use in a Truck Cab Roof, Image courtesy of John Spoto

These pads are easy to install (cut to size, peel liner, apply to the surface) and should be replaced as necessary on any collision repair.   

Heavy-duty truck and commercial vehicle OEM’s also apply other materials in strategic locations to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness.  One example of this would be the “doghouse” area on the cab floor above the transmission (see picture below).

                                                

               

 

 


“Doghouse” cab floor area with OEM applied sound deadening materials, Image courtesy of John Spoto

These materials will have a pattern or texture from the OEM application method. The appearance of these materials may be matched during the repair process using products discussed above, or another product such as 3M™ Heavy-Bodied Seam Sealer PN 08308.  This product is a two-part epoxy that has NVH properties as well as excellent tooling properties. A variety of tools and materials can be used to manipulate this seam sealer to replicate an OEM appearance.  These include:

  • Placing notches in an adhesive spreader and running it over the seam sealer to match a linear pattern. A comb could also be used  
  • Dabbing the surface of the seam sealer with a 3M™ScotchBrite pad is another method that can be used to match an OEM texture.  
  • Utilizing the seam sealer gun in a push/pull or side-to-side method can produce a specific pattern as well.  

Using these products and a little creativity, many of these OEM textured surfaces can be matched very effectively.

 

 

 

 

 

Samples of textures reproduced using seam sealer
Image courtesy of Todd Matthes

Conclusion

The products and processes to inspect, repair, and replace foams, NVH material, and sound deadening pads are an important part of performing a quality repair.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  There are of course many factors and variables that can affect an individual repair, so the technician and repair facility should evaluate each specific application and repair process, including relevant vehicle, part and OEM guidelines, and determine what is appropriate for the repair.  For more Heavy-Duty Truck and Commercial Vehicle Collision Repair product information, Standard Operating Procedures, and Videos, please visit our website at 3M.com/truck.

Axalta Coating Systems Brings Experience & Business Council Members to 2019 HD Repair Forum

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Houston, Texas, March 11, 2019 – Axalta Coating Systems, a provider of OEM coatings for seven of eight North American commercial vehicle manufacturers and leader in coatings for collision repair, increases its support of the annual heavy-duty collision repair conference, HD Repair Forum.

North American Sales Manager for Axalta’s Commercial Transportation Division, Richard Cecchini states, “The idea of the forum is to bring influential people in to examine the state of the industry including trends and issues, understand the impacts on repairers and other industry stakeholders, such as insurance companies, and discuss what we need to do to prepare for the future.”

He further added, “Axalta is committed to advance and improve the heavy-duty collision repair industry. The HD Repair Forum provides individuals and companies an opportunity to make a difference, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”

Earlier this year, Axalta committed to their continued involvement and support, with an increased sponsorship level of the HD Repair Forum. It also wholeheartedly supports their Business Council Member’s unanimous decision to host their spring meeting alongside the program.

Axalta Coating Systems has two Commercial Transportation Business Council Member groups, one designed for Truck and Fleet based collision repairers and another geared towards RV and Emergency Vehicle collision repairers. “The goal of our councils is to promote an environment where owners and managers can interact with other professionals, share best practices and further develop their business management skills,” explains Cecchini. “Joining an Axalta Business council is a solid commitment by owners and managers to continuously improve their businesses. Our council members are the best of the best, true leaders in the industry.”

Business council member, Steve Wolfe, President of Diversified Body & Paint in Colorado, was in attendance at last year’s inaugural event and has secured his registration for this year. “During the 2018 HD Forum I learned so much and met some wonderful people. The event restored my faith in our industry’s growth and potential,” he explains. “The topics covered, networking time provided, and products showcased are what all of us are looking for, each and every day in our businesses. Time and cost is very important to our group, so holding our council meeting alongside the HD Repair Forum is a ‘Win, Win!’.” Wolfe continues.

The HD Repair Forum aims to foster growth and progress in the heavy-duty collision repair industry through the exchange of knowledge, experience, and feedback from all industry stakeholders. On April 2nd & 3rd, 2019 heavy-duty collision repair professionals, insurance parties, OEs and equipment and service providers from across North America will gather at the Hilton in Fort Worth, TX. They will obtain information on the latest trends and industry issues and learn about the newest vehicle technology, solution-based services, and training opportunities available to the market.

“I’m looking forward to hearing about topics this year like OE repair information, parts sourcing, and identifying equipment that fits my needs. For myself, other members in my council, and repairers in my industry these are all high on our need lists.” Wolfe concludes.

The complete agenda for the HD Repair Forum was released early last month and can be found here.

Heavy-Duty Collision Repair Event Schedule:
Tuesday, April 2nd
6:30 AM Registration Opens
8:00 AM-5:00 PM Conference
5:00-6:30 PM Networking Reception
Wednesday, April 3rd
8:00 AM-5:00 PM Conference
Thursday, April 4th
Axalta Coating System’s Business Council Meetings

Many other industry stakeholders, including truck manufacturers, equipment suppliers, insurance companies, independent appraisers, and heavy-duty repair facility owners have already marked the second annual HD Repair Forum on their calendars.

Limited sponsorship opportunities are still available. Visit this link call 281-819-2332 for more information.

Online Registration can be found at HD Repair Forum Registration

For more information about the conference, please visit www.hdrepairforum.com

About the HD Repair Forum
Created as a dedicated resource for heavy-duty collision repair information for shop owners, managers, estimators, appraisers, insurance personnel, manufacturers, educators, and consultants. The HD Repair Forum offers a monthly newsletter, a website, news articles, webinars, and an annual conference that brings all industry stakeholders together. The HD Repair Forum’s conference will take place April 2-3, 2019 in Fort Worth, TX with numerous classes and panels dedicated to education and problem solving.

About Axalta Coating Systems
Axalta is a leading global company focused solely on coatings and providing customers with innovative, colorful, beautiful and sustainable solutions. From light OEM vehicles, commercial vehicles and refinish applications to electric motors, buildings and pipelines, our coatings are designed to prevent corrosion, increase productivity and enable the materials we coat to last longer. With more than 150 years of experience in the coatings industry, the approximately 14,000 people of Axalta continue to find ways to serve our more than 100,000 customers in 130 countries better every day with the finest coatings, application systems and technology. For more information visit axalta.com and follow us @Axalta on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Time to Complete a Heavy Duty Business Opportunity Audit

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Everyone is becoming very aware as to the many challenges that lay ahead for the independent HD aftermarket. Challenges can turn into incredible opportunities when approached properly. We are now moving into a new era where the “Trade” days are coming quickly to an end and our “Profession” will step out into the economy and WOW the commercial client. It will also attract the millennials when they see the exciting technology and opportunities for them to be involved in moving our sector forward. As a Profession we will finally elevate the HD aftermarket to an income level that mirrors other high end economy segments. Exciting days are ahead but detailed planning is now required to make sure we can embrace the future.

Consider this list and address how each one affects your business and list the solution required so the shop can continue to move forward.
Business Opportunity Audit:
1 We face increased competition from the HD Dealerships and/or shrinking margins so our focus must shift within the business to selling our knowledge. Billed hours must be our focus. To achieve this it must be recognised that client relationships and earning their trust is so important. Educate as to the value and importance of investing in at least two comprehensive inspections on the HD vehicle each year. The purpose of the comprehensive is to have a full picture of the condition the vehicle is in for safety, reliability and efficiency. You then counsel the client the timing of the required work, based on how they use the vehicle and their annual mileage as to what is in their best interest to insure vehicle safety, reliability and efficiency are properly maintained.

2 We need to better understand our target clients…who they are, why they buy and what they really want. Analyze your data base as to who are your top commercial clients. What type of work do they have done on their vehicle meaning are they a break down and repair client or a vehicle preventative maintenance client? You have a solid relationship with all these people so have a conversation as to why they come to your shop specifically and what are they looking from you moving forward? These are the people who most likely will recommend you so listen carefully, take notes and improve the service level where required to meet their total expectations.

3 Some of our current and target clients are not aware of all the value we offer. Have you educated your clients as to what makes your shop “uniquely” different? This should be where your advertising/marketing dollars are spent. Differentiate yourself from the HD dealership arena “in writing” and make sure clients and potential clients “experience” that differentiation when they come into your operation. Differentiation can mean strong value to a client if you work on and remember that EVERY visit for them is about their experience with your business.

4 We don’t charge as much as we should, because of a lack of confidence in our value, or for some other reason. Have we got our emotions in check? Do the real math and establish the right labor rates for the competency and value we bring to our clients. Acknowledge that your labor rate represents your shop’s competency. You are in a knowledge based business and competent staff, from the technicians to the front counter are worth more. Review your structure to make sure you have the right rates in place for maintenance, diagnostic and re-flash labor. Once again proper education of the client is critical here. Think about this example….introduce to the client the lead technician that will be working on the client’s vehicle. This is all of a 2 minute introduction. Have a small training session with the technicians as to how the technician should handle him in front of the client and why this is important. This can build incredible relationships and trust when a client actual can put a face and “personality” to the person working on their vehicle. Remember as I said before, it is about the “experience” on each visit.

5 Our industry faces trust or image issues that we must overcome to create client confidence. This is a great opportunity for the HD independent sector to embrace. To create client confidence, you must slow down and actually make time for the client so you can engage in a constructive and positive conversation with them. Review all the facts you have on that client file proving you understand their situation. You know whether they own or lease the vehicle, how they use the vehicle (city, highway or a lot of off road driving due to their physical location) confirming they drive X amount of miles per year and understanding their expectations with their vehicle. MANAGE the vehicle based on their facts and remind them that your recommendations are for safety, reliability and efficiency to achieve the client’s ultimate expectations.

6 We need a clearer Vision for the future of our business…and a written Plan to define it and how to get us there.

This is one of your greatest exercises in an opportunity audit because you now confirm the 5 building blocks required for a successful culture and building a profitable business. All these should be fully written out and properly documented in detail. The 5 blocks are 1. Vision – what will the business look like in 3 years? From facility appearance to staff appearance to work flow management to maximize bottom-line profits. How will it differ from today? 2. Do we have or understand what talent do we require to fulfill the vision? Have you got the knowledge depth on your team that is required today? If not do they have the desire to learn what they must know to be part of this business? Where is the right training available? 3. Does the team “believe” in the vision to be achieved? In other words are they motivated because they like the direction the business is going and want to be part of it? Never ask the team to “buy into” the business, you want and need them to “believe” in the business. 4. Provide all the resources to achieve the vision. This relates to on-going and specific training the team needs, equipment and software upgrades where required and an efficiently laid out facility to maximize productivity. 5. A proper measuring document. This means to have a proper measuring document to confirm the journey is going in the right direction or point out where attention must be paid to keep the business on track.

The above six examples are but a few opportunities in the audit process but as you can see when you approach the business with a positive mind-set you are in control of the future because you are thinking of where “opportunities” lay within your business. Get the team involved as well, especially millennials who love to be part of the building blocks. Listen carefully to them; you may be very surprised as to what great in-put they can give form “their” perspective, your future customer and client base.

2019 is the start of the future. Lay down a solid foundation of thought and planning now and the next 3 years will be a start to an incredible and exciting journey.

Agenda Released for 2019 HD Repair Forum

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Houston, Texas, February 12, 2019 – Earlier this month, HD Repair Forum’s development team released the agenda for its 2019 heavy-duty collision repair conference, being held April 2nd- 3rd in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Last year, as a first-time event, we were very satisfied with the feedback we received on the program. Repair facility owners, fleet and body shop managers, insurance partners and other industry leaders were pleased with the information and opportunities that were uncovered.” explains Co-founder and President of the HD Repair Forum, Brian Nessen.“It is based on this feedback and the requests and direction given from our advisory board, that this year’s conference follow a similar format.”

The 2019 agenda will assist repair facilities in the heavy-duty collision repair market improve their processes and profitability, bring further clarity to solutions available for parts sourcing and pricing, educate the industry on the newest vehicle technologies entering this market, while continuing conversations on other industry challenges, including access to OEM repair procedures.

Until recently, this group of collision repairers did not have an event dedicated to their business needs and interests. The HD Repair Forum now provides industry leaders a place to gather, communicate, collaborate, and network with peers, stakeholders, and key-influencers. “We look forward to offering the heavy-duty collision repair industry the opportunity to come together and drive change that benefits all the stakeholders and most importantly, their mutual customer.” concludes Nessen.  

Below is an overview of the 2019 HD Repair Forum agenda:

2019 HD Repair Forum Day One – Tuesday, April 2, 2019

General Sessions
Keynote Speaker – Mike Jones
OEM New Vehicle Technology
Clean Energy in the Transportation Industry
Panel Discussion: Finding Parts – Is There an Easier Method to the Madness?

Focused Learning Tracks – Breakout One
Track A: What Happens in 100 Milliseconds During a Collision
Track B: Estimating Made Easy
Track C: Building a Successful Alignment and Safety System Calibration Program

Focused Learning Tracks – Breakout Two
Track A: Develop Standard Operating Procedures for Efficient Results
Track B: Composite Repair in the Heavy Duty Truck and Commercial Vehicle Market
Track C: Heavy-Duty Truck Collision Damage Analysis

Focused Learning Tracks – Breakout Three
Track A: Discover Leadership
Track B: Commercial Vehicle Scanning – What Tools and Software Do I Need?
Track C: I-CAR Training

Networking Reception

HD Repair Forum Day Two – Wednesday, April 3, 2019

General Sessions
Industry Trends and Insight
New Vehicle Technology Now and Beyond
Opportunities for Equipping the Industry with Training and Technicians
Data Privacy and Liability After a Collision
Panel Discussion: A Dive into Successful Operations in Heavy-Duty Collision Repair
Panel Discussion: Understand Insurer Challenges & Opportunities to Work Together

Focused Learning Tracks  – Breakout One
Track A: What Happens in 100 Milliseconds During a Collision
Track B: Heavy-Duty Truck Collision Damage Analysis
Track C: Elevating HD Service Excellence with Mathematical Measurements

Focused Learning Tracks – Breakout Two
Track A: Extreme Communication
Track B: Composite Repair in the Heavy Duty Truck and Commercial Vehicle Market
*Track C: Elevating HD Service Excellence Continued

Focused Learning Tracks  – Breakout Three
Track A: I-CAR Training
Track B: HR Matters
*Track C: Elevating HD Service Excellence Continued

For additional details on speakers, sponsors, and event details visit www.hdrepairforum.com/agenda

Conference days are Tuesday & Wednesday, April 2nd & 3rd, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. To register for early bird rates through Friday, February 15th follow this link: www.etouches.com/hdrepairforum2019