Thank you to all of the people that registered last week, we have some great momentum! Our industry is famous for last minute registrations and it makes it stressful for the organizers to get final numbers to the hotel, currently I am hoping to give those numbers by September 3rd so please get your registrations in before that date.The Thursday golf tournament is quickly filling up so if you plan to join us for some fun and fellowship you need to hurry up, as I write this there are only 20 spots left. We will be starting registration at the hotel on Thursday morning, providing a breakfast sandwich, swag bag  and getting people off to the golf course for tee times starting at 11 am. You will receive a Burger and drink coupon to be used at the golf course snack shop, I recommend doing so after 9 holes. After golf we will meet back at the Saskatoon Inn for a banquet, prizes and fellowship with Lloyd & Sandy Giles sharing their story of 50 years at Midtown Auto Body in Elrose.Friday morning we have David Luehr and Don Pogoda sharing everything from scheduling, production management and how to gamify your workplace. Dave Luehr has agreed to do some one on one consulting with our members – all you have to do is email me at to get your name on the list. Prepare to be informed and entertained by these two men in this fun interactive session. Friday afternoon we have presentations from Enterprise Rent a Car and AsTech. A traditional Fall Supper starts at 5 pm followed by the industry Trade Show that goes until 9:30pm. A great opportunity to see what is new and meet our sponsors. A bonus is some great door prizes, you don’t want to miss this!Saturday we have an update from SGI and I think you will be impressed to see some of the new policies that they are putting in place for the coming year. Other presenters include 3M, Sunlife ARA Group insurance and Sask Polytechnic in the morning. After lunch you will meet Paul Martin, a prominent Saskatchewan business analyst that will totally blow your mind, you don’t want to miss him! Tom Julius and Leanne Jefferies complete the presentations before we have our yearly Annual General Meeting. We look forward to hosting you and you can get tickets at: book hotel rooms at the Saskatoon Inn call 1-306-668-9601 or go online to book your room at: The SAAR rate is $139 per night.
 Our industry and others have faced a challenge for years: labor shortages. As the former chair of a CIC committee to study this issue and in my role as a body shop mentor, I’ve heard a lot about this from multiple sources.Bottom line? It’s not going to magically change. We have to think outside the box – both in our hiring and in how we run our businesses.This month, BETAG Innovation’s COO, Dave Flockhart, is joining us to share one of those outside the box ideas… it’s time to ‘Grow Your Own’! Join us on Thursday, August 26th, at      1 PM CDT, to discover ways to shape a new generation of strong apprentice and journeyman technicians.
 Mike Anderson of Collision Advice and Danny Gredinberg of DEG, in partnership with the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) – present Quick Tips for those in the collision industry.As a collision repairer you have an obligation to protect your customers’ vehicles from incurring additional damage as a result of the repair process. Many collision repair facilities use a product called Spark Paper to protect both the vehicle and individual vehicle components from damage that could occur as a result of welding or grinding. When developing the repair plan, you may need to consider both labor and materials necessary for non-included operations such as covering the interior and exterior to protect the vehicle. 
The 3 Things Your Customers Absolutely Want
I have always believed that the more people that know you, like and trust you, the busier your shop will be.Are you interested in turning customers into raving fans who will recommend you to their friends and family? When it comes to speaking about what sets you apart from your competition, we typically mention things like manufacturer certifications, local awards, and advanced equipment, which are all important and valuable. However, to a customer who recently damaged his or her vehicle, there are a few other things he or she really needs and wants us to provide.After recently interviewing customer service representatives and estimators to gather the most prevalent questions customers ask when calling or coming in for an estimate, I have identified the key areas of opportunity to exceed expectations and make the repair process as painless as possible.1. They want an advocate. Being involved in a wreck or damaging a vehicle can be physically, emotionally, and financially taxing. In response to increasingly advanced vehicle safety systems, the average consumer will only need collision repair services every 7-10 years. When that time comes, they are going to have lots of questions and uncertainties as to how the estimate process works, if they have rental car coverage, how to handle their insurance company, down to processes such as towing the vehicle or scheduling a rental car. By equipping our front office staff to be empathetic, understanding, and informed, we can allow them to calm the customer’s nerves by positioning ourselves as their advocate through each step of the repair process.2. They need convenience. Losing a vehicle while it is being repaired is not convenient for anyone, especially those who do not have rental coverage or are paying out of pocket and do not have access to a rental vehicle. However, by offering simple services we can make the collision repair experience less of an inconvenience. A few areas of opportunity include offering a free shuttle service for picking up or dropping a customer off, having an after-hours key drop box, down to the small details such as a welcoming lobby with free drinks and something simple, such as a snack basket in case they had to rush out of the house that morning to make it by.3. They expect transparency. For many customers, a vehicle is the largest purchase in their lives, second to their homes. It is what enables them to get to work, drop their children off at school, and is essential when conducting their daily routine. While their vehicle is being repaired, customers want to feel as though they know what is going on with the repair progression, if there are any delays, and that you are providing them a safe and proper repair that will ease their mind knowing their vehicle is going to drive and operate just as it did pre-loss. It is a great time to highlight your commitment to a safe repair while presenting an estimate by providing any OEM certification literature to the potential customer. While customers are not knowledgeable about industry terminology, manufacturers like Nissan, Honda, and Acura (ProFirst) provide certified shops with handouts made for customers that do a great job of explaining the rigorous training your shop completed and why it is so important to the structural integrity to have the vehicle repaired by a certified collision repair center. By positioning your shop as the customer’s advocate, ensuring the repair process is as convenient as possible, and being transparent and honest in your interactions, you will ensure their needs and wants during the repair experience are exceeded. While working in the industry, we all know it is easy to become detached to the level of stress the customer may be feeling, but we can best serve them by being prepared and cognizant for what they truly need. Jimmy Lefler, CEO of Lefler Collision & Glass Repair Centers has built his culture upon his motto, “We are in the people business; repairing vehicles is just a part of what we do.” By putting the customer first, you can ensure your shop is providing legendary customer service and an experience that will promote positive word-of-mouth references, excellent online reviews, and a great reputation. 
Robust Technology Platform Drives CARSTAR SuccessIn today’s work of contactless customer service, remote learning, virtual estimating and centralized performance tracking, there is one consistent requirement – a robust technology platform. Without that strong foundation, it is challenging to meet the evolving demands of today’s – and tomorrow’s – collision repair industry.Powered by Driven Brands and the resources behind more than 4,300 automotive service locations across North America, CARSTAR provides collision repair facility owners the innovative technology network needed to succeed. From consulting support via CARSTAR’s operations team to proprietary data management tools to virtual customer service applications, CARSTAR keeps its more than 700 North American franchise partners at the technological forefront of the industry.Click here to learn more!
Just like winning in sports, generating a
healthy bottom line is a game of inches:
In most sports, winning is about being a just little bit better than your opponent at the basics of the game.  It’s about blocking, tackling, back checking or hitting just a little bit better. It’s about winning a few more free throws or getting the ball deep into the corner of your opponent’s court. It’s about being a millisecond faster, being just a little bit stronger and a little bit more committed to an extraordinary outcome. Winning is a game of inches!And so it is in business.  Generating a healthy bottom line is about being just a little bit better than your competitors at a few key things. It’s about serving customers just a little bit better and selling just a little bit more.  Increasing sales by just 5% could grow your bottom line by 20% to 40%, depending on your gross margin. Turning your inventory just one more time each year could increase your profit by 25%.In some industries, reducing energy or fuel costs is a key profitability factor.  Papa Johns, the world’s third largest pizza chain, worked with an oven manufacturer to develop a more efficient oven that bakes a pizza just two minutes faster but will save 25% on energy costs.Cathay Pacific, one of the world’s best airlines, stripped the paint off all their freight-only aircraft, except for the tails.  The 200 Kg weight reduction saved them $190,000 per plane, per year in fuel costs.  Then, they cleverly renamed their fleet of freight aircraft ‘The Silver Bullets’ to put a positive marketing spin on their penny-pinching innovation.In other businesses, reducing waste just a little bit can have a major impact on profitability.  An independent pizza restaurant owner got tired of seeing carelessly spilled grated cheese on the floor near the ‘make line’ (the area of the kitchen where the pizzas are assembled for baking) where the crew scoops big handfuls of loose cheese out of a bin and spread it on the pizzas…and, apparently, on the floor.Cheese is the biggest expense in the pizza business and even a little waste will impact the bottom line severely.  So, my restaurant owner friend simply bought a few three-foot square plastic tubs and three sizes of zip-lock bags (the ones with the actual slider for efficiency) from the dollar store and created a little portion control program where just the right amount of cheese for each size of pizza fits into the appropriate sized bag.  The bags are filled while being held over the large tub of grated cheese and any that falls, falls back into the tub. Filled and zipped bags of cheese are placed in plastic tubs on the ‘make line’ where they’re quickly unzipped and the cheese neatly dispensed. Simple? Yes, but it immediately increased her bottom line by 25%!So, are you winning the ‘game of inches’ in every part of your business…or are a lot of little things, not done well, eroding your profitability?  The solution is simple. Start a list of all the things that you can do just a little bit better to amaze your customers, grow the business and increase your bottom line.Get your staff involved.  They know stuff!  Schedule a 2-hour “Winning is a game of inches” rally (call it anything but a ‘meeting’).   Use part or all of this article to create an invitation to the rally and to explain its purpose. Make it fun!  Go to the dollar store and get a bunch of little ‘prizes’ for each idea that’s generated.  Then, do something, improve something, fix what needs fixing.  Get the group’s commitment and assign specific responsibility to specific people.  Ultimately, it’s about ‘what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, with what outcome, measured how and rewarded how. Then, follow up.  Remember, businesses do not die from a single shot to the head.  They die, slowly but surely, from a thousand uncompleted tasks.  Finally, celebrate and reward success and deal firmly with non-performance.
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The ARA Group Benefits plan has proven to offer significant savings and stable renewals. The association group plan is insured by Sun Life and is one of the largest in Canada, covering over 3,000 employees and their families. All revenue generated by the plan is used to support the automotive industry through the ARA. What is the difference of an association plan? The ARA employee benefits plans are self-administered by the association which runs as a not for profit. This means that members of the plan can use more plan for less cost than any other plan available outside of the association. For example, the ARA can obtain a target loss ratio (TLR) of 85%. This is 15-20% higher than most employee benefits plans offered in Saskatchewan. What is a target loss ratio? It is essentially the percentage of premiums paid that can be used towards benefits. Most plans offer a TLR of 70%, while the other 30% goes to administration costs, commissions, etc. Since ARA self-administers, it can increase your TLR by 15% meaning employees can use more of the plan without the worry of seeing an increase in premiums the following year. What does this all mean for SAAR members? Well to start, it is the opportunity to participate in one of the largest, longest running and most stable association plans in Canada. You have the chance to get more out of your group benefits plan while saving money along the way. So far, we have seen a 5-25% savings in premiums along with many improvements to current benefit plans. We encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity. How do I get on the plan? First, we would gather information and supply you with a quote. We will provide you with a comparison if you currently have a plan. We will also help you to analyze your plan to ensure you have the coverage you and your employees need. If you feel satisfied, we will implement the new plan the following month. If you wish, getting a quote is free and only takes about 10 minutes out of your day to supply us with the proper information. If you wish to obtain a free quote and comparison, please feel free to contact one of our team members and we will happily help. We look forward to working with you! Leslie DeBoice                         Lee Campbell                             Ken Campbell306-649-4000 x.111               306-649-4000 x.104               306-649-4000 x.