with Mike Anderson
This month, we “ASK MIKE” – and this month’s special guest, Tracy Dombrowski of Collision Advice – to share some details (and words to the wise) regarding this year’s SEMA Show. We at Hammer & Dolly hope you find the following exchange useful, and we encourage you to reach out to us if you have a question for Mike on this or any industry-related matter that he can answer in a future issue.
Hammer & Dolly: Tracy, thanks for joining Mike as our special guest this month! You’re gearing up to give two very important presentations at this year’s SEMA Show. For those folks in the industry who are unfamiliar with you, what is your history in the collision repair industry and your role at Collision Advice?
Tracy Dombrowski: I met Mike and started working with him over 20 years ago. I have a background as an instructional design engineer; I developed curriculums. Before becoming exclusive to the collision industry, I built training for Fortune 500 companies.
I started out at a company based in Colorado called TEAM Marketing Group, which had a contract with DuPont at the time. I had worked on the old S.M.A.R.T. management program, and DuPont had brought Mike in as a subject matter expert for the training. We hit it off and started working together on and off. About 10 years ago, TEAM Marketing Group closed, and I started my own training business. I continued to work with Mike on various projects. About seven years ago, I started working with him and the collision repair industry exclusively. Last year, I became a partner in Collision Advice, for whom I serve as the training manager. Mike likes to say that I write the songs and he sings them!
H&D: This will be your first time presenting at SEMA. Tell me a bit about what you’ll be providing for attendees at the Show?
TD: I’ll be doing two presentations at SEMA. One is a 90-minute session on October 31 called ‘Phone Etiquette and the Power of Mystery Shopping.’ The other one will be a 10-minute session on the book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle as part of the IDEAS Collide Showcase on October 30.
Everyone talks about the technician shortage or the trouble they have hiring people. The issue isn’t just about hiring people but keeping them. A large part of employee retention comes down to a company’s culture. What are things about your business that attract people to it, and what are the things about it that will keep them there in the long term? When people try to define ‘culture,’ they may say, ‘Oh, you just have to be honest and ethical and have accountability and vision.’ Culture is all those things, but that roadmap doesn’t really help you get better at it. Reading The Culture Code showed me that roadmap to build and deliver a good culture. Part of that means sharing vulnerabilities and being open to feedback. The more you can have that loop, the closer people on the team get. This philosophy will be one of the key points of that presentation.
H&D: What should SEMA attendees start thinking about now – or start doing in advance – to make sure they get the most out of your presentations?
TD: We have training in this industry for estimators, technicians, owners and managers, but there’s very little training for CSRs [customer service representatives]. With claims predicted to decline, the way a shop delivers the customer experience is going to be more critical moving forward. So, for ‘Phone Etiquette and the Power of Mystery Shopping,’ the goal will be for owners, managers and CSRs to build business through how they talk on the phone and the customer experiences they provide. Before attending this course, attendees should take a good look at – and a good listen to – how their CSRs and other team members are delivering a customer experience and be prepared to learn how that experience could be improved.
For the IDEAS Collide piece, my goal is to give attendees practical ways to make connections with their teams by sharing their vulnerabilities and telling stories that help their teams know their purpose. If you’re attending that session, come ready to be open and honest about where your culture is now and what improvements you can make.
H&D: Mike, you’re a SEMA veteran. What are you presenting at this year’s show?
Mike Anderson: This year, I’ll be doing a session called ‘Building Operational Leadership’ on November 1. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite leadership lessons on how to improve an organization and how to share key lessons with your team. Most importantly, I’ll be sharing how to make those things stick! Best of all, Casey Lund of Collision Leaders, Ron Reichen of Precision Body & Paint and Andy Tylka of TAG Auto Group will be joining me for a panel discussion during the second half.
H&D: Aside from your commitments as a presenter at SEMA over the years, what is it that keeps you coming back as a regular attendee? What does this event give you that you can’t find anywhere else in this industry?
MA: The grand scale of networking that’s available. Because of the many meetings held in conjunction with it – like the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) and the OEM Roundtable – and all the vendors who are there, SEMA is always an awesome experience to be a part of.
H&D: SEMA is massive – like its own planet! It could be an overwhelming show for a first-time attendee, so what advice would you offer to help them have a valuable and productive experience there?
MA: I highly encourage people to download the SEMA app in advance and mark their favorite things they want to see – whether it’s exhibitors, vendors or classes. If you go there without a plan, you’ll regret missing things. Also, if you want to meet up with another shop owner or someone else in the industry, a lot of vendors are cool with you asking, ‘Hey, can I meet this person in your booth?’ Most people will let you do that. People are very accommodating at the Show.
H&D: How would you say the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) presence at SEMA has impacted what the Show offers the collision industry?
MA: There really wasn’t a focus on collision repair at SEMA until SCRS got involved. That’s the most valuable part of it for me – I can see a lot of people in a short amount of time, because the collision repair section is in one part of the Show. I really appreciate what SCRS has done for us – and that includes the relevant training it’s brought to our industry there.
I’m on the road a lot as an educator, but I can be a student when I go to SEMA. It gives me a chance to recharge my batteries and hear other speakers. I get to listen to people like Tim Ronak, Tony Adams, Aaron Schulenburg and I-CAR. It’s great to get different perspectives on things and learn from them. We can’t know everything if we just stay within our four walls.
To register for all SCRS Repairer Driven Education (RDE) sessions, please visit compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=684&site=SCRS.
The best option is to select the Full Series Pass, which will give you access to IDEAS Collide, all the other RDE sessions—including the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit—and the Sky Villa Afterparty.
To register for Mike’s stand-alone session, please visit https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=684&site=OPTS&opts=RD12.
To register for Tracy’s stand-alone session, please visit compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=684&site=OPTS&opts=RD8.
Want more? Check out the October 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!