We've had great feedback about our L!VE conference in Melbourne on Friday 12 October, sponsored by AkzoNobel. The theme was 'be connected' and the day was about making the right connections to help your business thrive. 

Keynote speaker Trudy MacDonald from TalentCode HR gave a fascinating talk on how to encourage excellence and discourage ordinary in your team and how to create a company culture that makes people want to work for you. Essential in this industry where the talent pool is shrinking.

Next up were the Tradiebot team where we learned the difference between augmented and virtual reality and looked at the uses in the motor industry - predominantly for training and to instruct and show how to carry out repairs. Automation of a number of bodyshop processes was also discussed - such as sanding panels but there are a host of repetitive jobs that could be automated. As technology comes down in price the cost of such equipment is likely to become less expensive than employing a human. Along with 3D printing which is already used for parts and tools, the future of body repair will look very different even in the medium term. 

Sam Street revealed some of the results from our 2018 Bodyshop Industry Survey and along with business coach Ben Fewtrell looked at some of the opportunities the survey showed were under ultilised. Diversification is the most obvious one and brining more and more serivces in house such as glass and wheel balancing. Fewtrell reminded everyone of the importance of upselling.

The last session before tea was an interview with two repairers from WA - Aaron Scagliotta from Gino's Panel & Paint and Anthony Arnold from Damage Control Accident Repair Centre. Both shared with the room some of the right connections they had made in their business including diversifying into mechanical and tyres, bringing in and keeping apprentices in the business and benefitting from having great relationships with industry suppliers.

The last section was devoted to how car manufacturers will inevitably become more involved in the repair process. Gareth Wright from Audi demonstrated the complexity of upcoming Audi and VW models and the level of knowledge needed to repair them correctly.

Damian Cahill from Holden made the point that the 'OnStar' system will allow Holden operators to direct their drivers to a Holden collision repairer and also pointed to the many complex safety features on new model Holdens. He talked about why and how Holden have set up their collision repair network. 

A panel at the end of conference was made up of Damian Cahill, Gareth Wright, I-Car's Mark Czvitkovits and Domenic Mazzeo from B&A Motor Body Repair to discuss the issue further. Safety was the biggest issue with repairs outside of the approved network and the most important reason that manufacturers will become more involved. The issue of recalibration was also raised as the panel felt that the dealer network will be swamped with these and it was agreed that there could be an opportunity for repairers to set up dedicated calibration centres.

A full report on L!VE will appear in the November issue of the magazine.


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