The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) and several other organizations and companies all came together for a week of presentations, seminars and meetings during the week of January 15 -19 in Palm Springs, CA.  Yes, it was a tough assignment. But someone had to do it.

The week began with the National Auto Body Council (NABC) open meeting on Monday, January 15.  It was announced that industry veteran Bill Garoutte has been named the new executive director, replacing longtime Massachusetts resident and former Massachusetts Auto Body Association president Chuck Sulkala, who was retiring after founding and managing the organization since the late 1990s.  

On Tuesday evening a member reception featured a “who’s who” of speakers from the industry in a tribute to Chuck for his many years of dedication to creating the NABC and making it into such a great organization. The NABC also gave a Palm Springs, CA, single mother of six much to look forward to in 2018 by giving her keys to a practically brand-new 2017 Toyota as part of their Recycled Rides program.  The vehicle presentation was a highlight of the NABC Annual Golf Fundraiser on Wednesday.  

Also on Tuesday the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) held its Open Board meeting. The CIECA board of trustees elected Clint Marlow of Allstate Insurance as Chair.  Other officers elected were Steve Betley, Insurance Auto Auctions (formerly of Commerce Insurance) Vice Chair; Kim DeVallance Caron, Enterprise Holdings, Treasurer; and Jeff Schroeder, of Car-Part.com as Secretary.

Wednesday not only featured the NABC Recycled Rides donation and Annual Golf Tournament but several breakout sessions.  Assured Performance’s CEO Scott Biggs, along with Aaron Clark and Liz Stein, conducted an all-day seminar on the Assured Performance ShopOp’s program for repairers.  Part of the suite of offerings by Assured Performance, ShopOp’s covers topics such as monitoring repair quality, customer relationships, financial planning, marketing and data management.  For more info visit assuredperformance.net.

On Thursday the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) had presentations by nine Committees including Governmental, Insurer-Repairer Relations, Parts and Materials and Education and Training.  The CIC meeting attendees include insurers, parts and paint companies, rental car companies and of course collision repairers, and is open to anyone from the industry.

The all-day session included a panel discussion by the Governmental Committee on how Washington officials are approaching the onset on autonomous vehicles and crash avoidance technology.  The Insurer-Repairer Relations presentation may have been the most entertaining though.  Clint Marlow of Allstate Insurance and Matt McDonnell, owner and president of Big Sky Collision, in Billings, Mont., “changed hats” and said what they felt the other party thought was important in the repair process.

The insurer felt the repairer wants to repair the vehicle properly, believes the OE is expert on procedures, and wants to avoid liability.  The repairer felt the insurer wants to repair the vehicle properly, thinks liability should be shared, and believes there should be exceptions in certain cases to OE repair information.  That the common denominator was repairing the car properly offers some hope that some common ground can be reached.

The Committee also asked the attendees to participate in a survey in what topics they would like to learn more about when it comes to insurer-repairer relations.  This is a common practice at the January planning session.  

The audience responses gauged by electronic clickers given to each attendee were ranked accordingly:

  1. Long-term impact of advanced vehicle safety systems in industry
  2. Repair procedures
  3. Additional insights into how an insurer operates
  4. Learning how to trust each other
  5. Creating estimates from images

Finally, on Friday it was the Smart Performance Solutions 2018 & Beyond Conference. Organizations presenting were 3M, Assured Performance, Astech, All Data, CCC, and a panel discussion with insurers and OE’s moderated by Automotive Service Association (ASA) president Dan Risley.  It was geared toward collision repair owners looking for a competitive advantage in the ever changing marketplace and covered topics such as OE certification program benefits, the diagnostic profit center, how technology is changing the claims process, V2V technology, insurer relationships and business practices.  

As you can see there was not much time to work on my tan. But I would prefer 80 degrees to 8 degrees any day!  If you have not attended a CIC meeting I would highly recommend it.  Not just for CIC but for all the additional meetings and seminars that are traditionally held in the same location and time period.

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