CRA SELL OUT CONFERENCE AT AUTOMECHANIKA
The recent bi-annual Automechanika Trade Fair provided an excellent backdrop for the largest and most successful conference ever held by the Collision Repair Association. It featured a diverse and engaging line-up of speakers from various sectors within the body shop business.
Karabo Kopeka from ABSA Insurance, was the first speaker to discuss some of their objectives and client challenges in dealing with unexpected bumper damage in a market where vehicle owners may switch insurers for as little as a R50 discount! Developing a smoother claims management process has become a recent focal point for ABSA. They are now prioritising quicker claim validation and offering a more personalised service with increased empathy, utilising new integrated platforms for clients, including enhanced pick-up and vehicle drop-off services.
The role of artificial intelligence technology came under scrutiny, with Lightstone integrating customer satisfaction levels, with predictive analytics to enhance data quality measurement. According to Lightstone, AI will eventually provide deeper insights into customer data privacy and prioritise customer preferences,” said Bernard De Vantier during his presentation.
Carla Godoy, the speaker from Audatex in Spain, continued the discussion on AI, noting that AI will not replace people in the collision repair industry but will inevitably replace those who do not embrace AI in the long term. By eliminating unnecessary steps in the assessment and diagnosis of damaged vehicles and digitising the traceability of processes, the goal is to make the customer feel more valued by simplifying the claims process. She emphasised the significant improvement brought about by a guided image capture system.
Keynote futurist, Andrew Marsh, then shared his perspective on the direction of global vehicle production, which is heading toward a significant decline in global vehicle sales, dropping by over 10 million vehicles to 81 628 533 sold last year. This trend is accompanied by a series of ongoing company mergers and share swaps, primarily involving Chinese vehicle manufacturers rapidly expanding their presence in global markets. Additionally, the increasing use of various new body structural materials is introducing a new dynamic in the field of body repair. The concept of disposable vehicles, openly discussed in China, has further intensified with their acquisition of numerous internal combustion engine (ICE) technologies.
“However, the movement to exclude motor cars from city centres is causing significant concern in Europe. This decision seems to lack practicality for the everyday motorist who is often just trying to commute to work,” remarked Andrew.
Toyota provided a glimpse of this year’s South African vehicle sales market and previewed some of the over 20 new models slated for release in the next 24 months. “It’s expected that the market will likely exceed 520 000 units sold in total,” said Sherry Court. She believes that services and parts will increasingly become competitive touchpoints for Toyota consumers within their value chain. This shift aims to reduce the cost of ownership in the future.
With government support for a green transport strategy, the nation might advance to the next level with increased cross-border activity. However, the time to embrace a different approach is now as the transition to success requires a broader and less traditional business model.”
CRA Operations Director, Steve Kessell, concluded the day’s proceedings with a speech on creating synergy for a better future. He emphasised the importance of protecting profit margins to ensure that correct repair process times and allowances are adhered to by major short-term insurance companies. This would lead to improvements in the ongoing drive for ‘Right First Time Repair,’ utilising enhanced workshop efficiency and productivity to promote customer satisfaction and recognition in the event of an accident.
At the event’s conclusion, Marius Roberts, the capable MC for the day’s proceedings, fielded questions from the audience for all the day’s speakers to address. All in all, this South African repair think tank generated a typical array of questions and concerns regarding a future filled with new trends and developments in the world of vehicles.
The conference also saw a pop-up section, eight tables around the room displayed new concepts and products for the collision repair industry. the teams on hand enjoyed good networking opportunities and it was a great time to catch up with clients and other friends in the industry.
Story by: Ian Groat
Pics by: Jay Groat and Sarah Macfie