meeting. Another trip across the country. Three more days away
from my wife, family and business to attend yet another conference.
Do I do this because I enjoy being trapped in a silver bullet
traveling at ungodly speeds at altitudes man was never intended
to be at with 148 suspicious looking strangers just to build
up my frequent flyer miles so I can be trapped in this metal
cocoon again in a wider seat? Or do I just like meeting with
people from all over the world who have questions, problems
and solutions they would like to share with others in their
own and related industries? If you guessed the latter you are
on the money!
has once again used excellent judgment in creating a client
advisory council. This council was made up of representatives
from all over the United States and Canada from four distinctly
different and surprisingly similar industries. The automated
automotive claims, estimating, inventory and interchange industry
was represented by our gracious host ADP, ADP/Hollander. The
insurance industry was represented by involved, intelligent
and astute independent and company-employed appraisers, supervisors,
managers and directors. The collision industry had representation
by a group of independent shop owners and managers who did a
fantastic job of bringing to light the questions, problems and
difficulties they experienced daily in operating and maintaining
their facilities, retaining and attracting customers and trying
to show a profit while doing so. The fourth group, and one I
am most familiar with, was the Automotive Recyclers. Another
group of intelligent, insightful, focused professionals that
made me proud to be considered one of them. I personally think
I received the invitation in error, but what the heck; I was
honored to be with them.
main purpose and focus of this conference was to open communication,
promote understanding and (of course) create and develop new
products to connect all of the pieces involved in the automotive
damage, claims, parts and repair puzzle.
from the meeting being held in a beautiful conference center
(resort) in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the weather, food and activities
being "just perfect", it was a wonderful business opportunity
as well. This was a golden opportunity to hear directly from
our customers, suppliers, insurers and vendors what is wrong,
right, old and new in each of our industries. We heard complaints,
made complaints, voiced our problems and concerns and listened
to theirs. We asked for understanding, were asked to understand
and came away with a whole new understanding of the process
that governs and controls the way we all do business together.
Then we came home.
after any conference, meeting or convention we all come home
with plans and ideas that are forgotten by the time we take
the first phone call of the day. This time I am determined to
make it different. I am going to follow the lead set by our
conference hosts and create my company's own client council.
I am going to get together with a few of our local collision
and repair shops, insurance adjusters and appraisers and try
to create an environment where we can discuss problems and seek
solutions. Maybe it will be over lunch once a month, before
or after hours every other month, or whenever we can manage
a free hour or two. You should do the same!
your wife, husband or significant other what they most want
from you and I'll bet you the answer will be for you, "to listen
and understand." I am also sure your customers feel the same
way; the only difference is that your customer wants lower prices
and your mate wants a vacation in the islands.
should you do? Make it your first order of business to attend
as many industry and inter-industry forums as possible. Read
everything available about ALL of the industries you depend
on daily. Use your local and international associations to gather
information, attend meetings and widen your sphere of influence.
In other words, get out there and start listening. Don't worry
if you don't have anything to say at first. Listening is much
more important than talking. As my mother always told me "You
are supposed to listen twice as much as you speak. That's why
God gave us two ears and one mouth"!
Gary Wiesner is co-owner of Pro-Auto Recyclers, Williamstown,