Southeast Collision Conference Promises Interactive Education for Everyone in the Shop!

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

Next month, WMABA will partner with the Carolinas Collision Association (CCA) to host the second annual Southeast Collision Conference (SCC), scheduled April 14-15, 2023 at the Meadow Event Park (Doswell, VA).

Following the national events for both CIC and SCRS being held in downtown Richmond, VA, the SCC will have its third annual event – and first in Virginia – featuring education classes from national presenters, exhibitor booths in a full-sized tradeshow, attendee raffles, product demos, skills contests with prizes and even an association awards dinner Thursday, April 13.

This year’s addition of WMABA’s Collision P.R.E.P. (Professional Repairer Education Program) has created even more buzz, and WMABA is excited to share the 2023 educational slate, which is filled with some of the industry’s favorite trainers who will be providing engaging educational opportunities for every level in the shop.

“We’re very pleased with the all-star lineup of industry educators on the agenda for our second Southeast Collision Conference and our first year teaming up with WMABA,” CCA Executive Director Josh Kent stated. “One of my biggest goals for 2023 was to include interactive classes that will engage the audience, and the Collision P.R.E.P. educational slate certainly covers that intention!”

No presenter in the collision repair industry deserves the label of “engaging” more than industry icon Mike Anderson (Collision Advice), so it’s fitting that the 2023 CCA educational slate kicks off with his discussion on how being average just doesn’t cut it in today’s industry environment as he demonstrates how one must “Be Extraordinary!” in delivering customer service, building shop culture and in all other ways in order to produce extraordinary results.

Few results matter in a shop as much as profitability and quality, both of which are directly related to the repair plan written, and Danny Gredinberg of the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) will deliver “Repair Planning Resources: Write Your Strongest Sheet” to empower shops to capture more dollars using inexpensive and FREE resources to maximize every repair that goes through your shop, like the DEG and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) Blueprint Optimization Tool (BOT).

“The ability for a repairer to write a strong sheet, starts with a thorough understanding of the vehicle they are working on as well as utilizing all the information available to them,” Gredinberg stressed. “It’s 2023, so there shouldn’t be any excuses, like ‘I don’t have the information to write a proper repair plan.’ We need to reinforce to every repair planner that there are a number of available resources to help them capture necessary billable operations. It’s one thing to see a flier or hear a recommendation, but seeing the resource in action will prove the benefits of utilizing the tools and information to leverage the strongest repair plan to perform a safe and proper repair.”

He hopes that class attendees will “quickly realize how much money they are leaving off the repair plan, especially when it comes to work they are performing and not being compensated for. Technicians are always held to a HIGH standard to perform quality repairs. As a repair planner, we need to hold ourselves accountable to capture those operations. We will show you the tools and resources out there that can maximize every repair plan put through your shop.”

It’s also vital that shops are capturing the right amount for their hard work, and during “Properly Identifying Labor Types and Rates,” John Shoemaker (BASF) will identify the skill sets required to repair today’s complex vehicles, delving into the labor types – and Labor Rates – associated with those skills. Shoemaker wants attendees to “understand that a Labor Rate should be developed based on costs because having an equitable Labor Rate will allow shops to train and retain their technicians.

“There was a time when a vehicle repair consisted of 70 percent body labor, 20 percent mechanical labor and 10 percent frame, but a modern vehicle repair would most often have a ratio closer to 20 percent body, 60 percent structural and 20 percent mechanical when required skill sets are properly identified. Although the evolution of vehicle design has dictated a change in that ratio, collision centers are still accounting for labor as if nothing has changed,” he explained. “The focus of this seminar is to illustrate the changes of vehicle design and how it has altered the labor types used in repair. As the labor types are defined, I will discuss how to calculate labor costs, taking into consideration the additional training required to perform the repairs as well as the costs to invest in and maintain OEM certifications. Knowing that labor sales is the primary profit center of a collision center, understanding that Labor Rates should be based on the costs to perform that labor allows collision centers to maintain profitability as vehicle design and repair requirements continue to evolve.”

ADAS certainly ranks among the most pressing evolutions impacting today’s collision repair facilities, and SCC addresses shops’ burning questions with two sessions devoted to the topic. First up, Frank Terlep (OPUS IVS) provides information on “How to Open and Operate a Successful ADAS Services and Calibration Business,” a course designed to introduce attendees to “the challenges and opportunities associated with opening and operating an ADAS service and calibration business, such as the financial and business opportunities, facility and equipment requirements, the seven ‘Moments of Truth’ with ADAS services and calibrations, calibration workflows best practices, proper documentation and ADAS system validation,” according to Terlep.

“This is an important topic for shops because I believe ADAS services, calibrations and validations are the biggest opportunities the collision industry has seen in 20-plus years!” he emphasized. “There are almost 100 MILLION ADAS-equipped vehicles in operation today, and by 2026, there will be the need to perform almost 10 million ADAS calibrations, worth more than $2 billion in revenue. Since ADAS technologies directly affect acceleration, braking and steering, it is important to understand the importance of detailed documentation and validation procedures to effect a safe repair.”

Josh McFarlin (AirPro Diagnostics) will revisit the timely topic of ADAS in “Own Your Calibrations,” lending insight into how shops can increase profit and maintain better control of cycle time by keeping ADAS calibrations in-house.

“Calibrations are a critical element of performing a safe repair of the vehicle,” McFarlin points out, indicating that attendees will walk away from the course with “information on what calibrations are (and what they are not) and an increased comfort level that there are lots of solutions out there that will allow you to do some or all of the needed calibrations in house.”

During “From an Auditors’ Perspective, where Repairers are Hitting and Missing the Objectives,” Rick Miller (Wadsworth International) will team up with Dennis Smoyer (Subaru) to explore how the Repair Quality Assessment (RQA) helps ensure a consistent quality result by encompassing all aspects of the repair process, utilizing tools provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

“The collision industry repairer is pulled in all different directions by vehicle owners, insurance companies and manufacturers, while simultaneously managing the supply chain challenges,” Miller explained the course objective. “What shouldn’t change is how to repair the vehicle correctly while it is in their charge. The repair location is responsible for the quality and safety of each repair, regardless of all the influencing elements. Consistency and transparency will reduce the stress in a stress-purchase environment. We hope to teach class participants how to step away from assumptive quality to a known collaborative process, ensuring a consistent quality of repair and reducing the collective stress of the auto body experience.”

Mark Olson (VECO Experts) will deliver an interactive, hands-on look at how “Organization + Process = Profitability,” as he takes a look at generational differences to examine the holes in how the old model does things and how the new model will do things. Taking participants from each generation, the class will show simple hands-on tasks are approached differently and how and why conflicts arise – and how to develop systems to have it work for all.

WMABA Executive Director Jordan Hendler commented on the two panel discussions, saying, “The panelists we have acquired for these two sessions are folks you may not otherwise get to meet without traveling outside of our region. These are amazing opportunities to hear directly from the top experts and vehicle manufacturers on such important topics such as electric vehicles and shop trends nationwide. You cannot afford to miss this!”

On Friday, “Preparing Your Shop for Electric Vehicles: Repair Strategies and Vehicle Management” will include panelists ranging from all-electric manufacturers to longstanding OEMs that are putting new electric vehicles (EVs) on the market as they explore the considerations that repair facilities should make prior to, during and after repairs when it comes to supporting their EV customers’ vehicles.

During Saturday morning’s “Repairer to Repairer: Open Discussions on Shop Trends,” several shop owners will participate in an open dialogue on repairability, revolutions, insurance relations, best practices, vehicle advancements and more. Join the conversation as industry leaders examine ways they’ve overcome the hurdles faced by shops around the country when it comes to recruiting, efficiency, repair procedures and other areas of the business.

SCC 2023 will conclude with “Repairer to Repairer: Stop Estimating and Start Repair Planning,” presented by SCRS Secretary Michael Bradshaw (K&M Collision). Attendees will learn the process of an OEM-compliant repair, step by step, as well as how to accurately capture all performed operations within the repair blueprint. Attendees will walk away from the class with more knowledge related to identifying required repairs, repair documentation best practices, utilization of OEM repair information, utilization of readily available industry resources for identifying and capturing non-included operations, the differences between an estimate and a thorough repair blueprint, how crucial the blueprinting process is to proper repairs, shop efficiency and overall profitability.

“The tone for everything that happens within a collision repair shop is set by the estimating and blueprinting processes,” Bradshaw pointed out. “There is not one single thing that can have the impact proper blueprinting has on things like cycle time, touch time, efficiency, repair quality and – most importantly – overall shop profitability. Quite simply, this is an area that virtually every shop across the country could improve upon and see positive effects across the shop.”

Stay tuned to Hammer & Dolly for additional updates on the 2023 Southeast Collision Conference. Register by scanning the QR code on this page or visit

Please note: Speakers, times and class descriptions are subject to change prior to the event.