SCRS Brings New IDEAS to the Table for a Better Tomorrow

by Alana Quartuccio

In order to create a better collision repair world, we have to go beyond what is known as status quo. Being open to new ideas – thinking outside the boxes that we are otherwise accustomed to – is part of not only keeping up with the changes that come about, but staying ahead of them. 

As has been a favorite feature of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series at SEMA for a number of years, this year’s IDEAS Collide Showcase once again brought 12 new voices to the stage to share brief 10-minute messages designed to inspire all in the audience to start thinking differently. 

Instead of closing out the week’s RDE series, the IDEAS Collide Showcase kicked things off this year. “The idea is to get us to think beyond what we know today, to think beyond the status quo,” stated SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg as he opened the discussion. “We have a slate of speakers who have never been on this stage before. To tell an audience about a grand idea in only 10 minutes is not an easy thing to do. We feel it’s important to find new voices every year who bring in something new to highlight.” 

Ben Simmons of Gravie relayed his journey from moving away from unsatisfactory and unaffordable health care benefit plans toward one that redesigns the whole picture, in order to “build a health plan that everyone can love. We set out to redesign health insurance to make it better for members and for small employers like yourselves.” 

“We believe the future of health benefits has to walk with the consumer end-to-end on their journey through the healthcare system,” Simmons declared.

Passionately sharing his own experiences, Michael Bradshaw (K&M Collision) gave the audience proof that creating a company culture is really the key currency that invests in a staff who will not only stay long term, but will go above and beyond in their performance while doing so. 

“We see employee potential as a cup to be filled, not to be drunk from,” Bradshaw explained. “Fill their cups, and they will become leaders.” From instituting a four-day work week, allowing his employees extra time with family, to leadership coaching and supporting the personal and professional goals of his staff, Bradshaw has created a company that not only retains employees but keeps them motivated to do more. 

“If I can make my employees’ lives better, I did my job,” Bradshaw stressed. 

For the first time in IDEAS Collide history, two people came up on stage at once as Richard Desvogues and John Ascheman of 3M Collision teamed up for “Being Burdened with the Burden of Proof.” As former field adjusters, they challenged the audience to consider the changes the insurance companies have brought forth over the past few years by going to more virtual claims as an opportunity to grow. THe pair encouraged the audience to continue to ask to be paid for things, insisting eventually there will be a turn around.

Another duo – Ryan Weber and Marc Brune of Mentor Mentee – proposed that the best way to influence young people in the collision repair field is to mentor them. Tracking their progress, holding them accountable and supporting them will lead to success.

Andrew Batenhorst (Pacific BMW Collision Center) set out to make repairers question everything they’ve ever known about estimating with his presentation, “Death to the ‘Estimator’ Role.” He strongly believes this is the key to bring positive change to the industry.

Bing Wong (Collision Builders) shared his enthusiasm for growing one’s business through acquisitions, encouraging everyone in the audience to consider how to go about it. Research and understanding what one is buying is important; therefore, he advised that one invests the time into “having someone do a normalization process to see what you are buying. You don’t want to spread yourself thin.” 

3M’s Jason Garfoot demonstrated that there are better ways to improve cycle time in one’s paint booth. He challenged repairers to think about how many cars come through their booth per day, and how making improvements by minimizing downtime to increase refinish hours can amount to more dollar signs for the shop. “One more car per day can mean an additional $384,000 per year,” Garfoot claimed.

Collision Advice’s Tracy Dombrowski shared personal experiences supporting her claims that good culture is quite a useful tool. People want to be heard and have a voice in their work environment. “Never have a meeting without everyone on the team having spoken, and be sure to thank people for their contributions,” she advised. “They will feel they can ask questions, and when you do that, this powerful thing will happen in your business. These are the things that will help you thrive and not survive in our business.”

While a 10-minute timeframe didn’t allow Shaughn Kennedy (SPARK Underwriters) to provide a bill sheet, he still managed to address “Creating a Build Sheet for Your Garage Liability Insurance” by reminding business owners to take the time to review their business insurance. “Let’s face it: as shop owners, you are busy. You are worried about the front end, money coming in, your people. Your commercial business insurance renews once a year. By the time you think about it, the renewal is a week away, and you have no time to redo it.” He advised owners to take the time to read policies, ask questions and take them back to their agent to review.

Last but certainly not least, collision instructor Alex Crays (Career Technical Education Center) took the stage to promote hope for this industry when it comes to increasing the amount of collision technicians coming on board. It comes down to thinking differently and changing the way things are done. Cultures change from generation to generation. He’s seen it through his own experiences, and he’s learned from it. The theory that this generation wants everything handed to them is false, according to Crays. “I have students back home who want to work, and they want to learn. I am proud to launch them into this industry.” 

He advises his students to play the long game. Working in this industry will pay off big time if time is invested, he teaches them. “It’s a profitable and respected industry. There is a lot of money to be made, and it’s a nice fulfilling career. It’s not that these young people who are coming in are lazy; they just want to be treated in a different way.”

Want more? Check out the December 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!