Publisher's Statement - April 2012
Best of times
It may be the best of times and the worst of times, as Charles Dickens wrote in the French revolution-based novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” but at three outstanding, regional training conferences in the last month, it was the best of times and nearly standing-room-only at management and training classes for thousands of shop owners, managers, service advisors, and technicians.
In Denver, the ASA-CO Independent Automotive Professionals Symposium provided training classes, a weekend platform for shop owners to network, and national figures to present overview and purpose to the participants.
In SeaTac, Wash., ASA-WA was the primary sponsor for the Automotive Training Expo (ATE) that presented 60 management and technical classes, mechanical and collision. Record attendance resulted in classrooms filled to capacity at the West Coast’s largest training expo.
In Overland Park, Kan., the ASA-MO/KAN Vision Hi-Tech Training & Expo celebrated its 20th anniversary and was bigger and better in almost every aspect. Thousands of seats were filled for classes and panel discussions.
Efficient, effective, and enjoyable
All three training conferences, attended and covered by Parts & People, were efficient and well-organized, effective in achieving a purpose to provide world-class training, and extremely enjoyable to attend. It’s a tribute to the association directors and staffs, volunteers, trainers, and exhibitors/sponsors that all three training events were so polished and professional.
The caliber of the trainers and the contemporary topics covered and taught should remind the industry of the extent to which it has evolved and developed in the last decade. From electric vehicles (EV), gas direct injection, and hydrogen fuel-cell technology to high-grade steel, carbon fiber panels, structural adhesives — the classes were cutting edge. So too were the management classes and speakers, who identified current management trends and customer-related marketing approaches.
As Chris Chesney, industry trainer and CARQUEST director of professional markets, said in Denver, “In the next five years, you’ll see technology that turns your business upside down, more so than the last 20 years.”
ASA President Ron Pyle reminded all that what we provide our customers — reliable transportation — is a need that will continue but what it looks like will change. “It’s not sufficient to rely on loyalty and history. Change is never comfortable, but growth comes from change. We have to change — it’s not a choice, but a requirement,” he said.
Doug Bawel of Jasper Engines & Transmissions called upon shop owners to be honest about shop appearance, their people, and themselves when making these changes. If your shop’s business is not growing 10 percent every year, make the changes needed, he said. Promote your business and remember: Be positive and passionate — attitude is everything, Bawel said.
In addition to training, motivation, and attitude, shops also need new equipment and tools for new technologies. And, the equipment booths were crowded with attendees at the trade shows. Have respect for, and acquire, the tools needed.
At the end of the day, or weekend, the information and experience taken away was such that the participating shops can and should be able to improve their profitability and provide their customers with some of the same efficiencies, effectiveness, and even enjoyment realized at these training events.