Over 100 delegates enjoyed an informative afternoon at Paint & Panel's L!VE conference on 11 October at Melbourne's Arts Centre and sponsored by AkzoNobel. The theme this year was 'Game Changers' and this was covered from a number of angles.

Millennials will make up 75% of our customers and employees by 2025 and their expectations will require dramatic changes in our industry. Keynote speaker Claire Madden unpacked what makes both millennials and Gen Z's tick, what they expect as employees and as customers. In a lively presentation with plenty of audience participation, we examined the problems that employers have with their young workforce. These included communication and loyalty issues. Madden painted a vivid picture of what motivates Millennials, such as feeling part of a team, the need for constant feedback on their performance and other ways of communicating with them using the screens they are so attached to. YouTube videos for training and explaining standard operating procedures were one suggestion.

A Millennial panel following Madden's session included WorldSkills bronze medalist Maxine Colligan, second generation repairer James Nguyen from H&M Malaga in Perth, Ian Tulloch from IAG, Shuan Janks from DingGo and Steve Lozenkovski from Bears Group discussed how Millennials demanded a seamless customer experience and ways that these could be delivered.

Brian Hill from Verisk Analytics presented despite suffering from 'man flu' (thank you). He shared the global data company's relationship with the insurance industry and one of the products developed to help reduce insurer costs. This 'triaging' can determine from pictures taken on the customer's phone whether the car is a total loss within seconds with a current accuracy rate of 80%. This saves the insurer both tow truck fees and assessment fees as the total loss can be towed directly to a salvage yard. This is achieved through artificial intelligence (AI) being constantly fed huge amounts of accident data. The more data AI has to work with the more accurate it is and, of course, it can learn from its mistakes.

Nikki Gerling from Bosch discussed ADAS calibration, both dynamic and static and what workshop equipment is available to allow repairers to calibrate in house. Gerling shared statistics about the proliferation of calibration systems and stressed the importance of always carrying out pre and post repair scans.

Taylor Cutler from online review platform company gave a fast paced, information packed presentation about the power of online reviews and how to manage and generate them. Among the many 'take homes' was the important difference between organic and local search. "Today’s consumer values convenience over loyalty. If your business isn’t easy to find, potential customers will just go to your competitors who are," he said. He gave delegates tips to optimise their business for local search engine optimisation. He explained how online reviews impact on local search ranking and tips to help collects reviews.

James Coffey, Porsche's Product & Skill Training Specialist introduced us to the extremely impressive Taycan. He discussed the thinking and engineering behind it, the battery and range capability and the body construction. He was followed by I-CAR's Mark Czvitkovits who outlined the current electric (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicle (HEVs) park and how this was going to increase in the next couple of years with the introduction of many EVs and HEVs such as the Jaguar I-Pace, Hyundai Ioniq, Audi E-tron, Mini and VW I.D. Czvitkovits discussed whether there would be licensing necessary for working on the vehicles and the safety issues (many of which can result in death) for workshops.

The conference finished with delegates hearing from some Australian game changers. Greg Elliot from hail specialist Smart Repair Australia talked about the game changing methods and technologies that his company has adopted including an arch scanner which identifies and categorises hail damage, supercharging estimating.

Sandra Noach from Extreme Dents and IQ Bodygroup talked about the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone to identify opportunities and diversify your business.

Shaun Janks from DingGo explained the philosophy behind the customer-centric company which handles much of the interaction with the customer to free the repairer up to do what they do best, repair cars for predominantly private work.

We also showed a video made by collision industry expert Mark Haddaway interviewing a UK family repair shop that has 'thrown in' with one manufacturer and the advantages this has brought the business. We'll upload the video onto our YouTube channel this week.

Thank you again to our sponsors AkzoNobel and Motor Trades Association of Australia.

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