Capricorn delivers at its inaugural Futures Collide Conference

Capricorn Society’s Head of Sales Australia, Dale Durden, kicked-off their inaugural Futures Collide Conference with informal drinks for inhouse sponsors and guests in Melbourne last Friday night, with the event proper getting underway on the Saturday morning.

Although it was one of the coldest weekends of the year, over 200 delegates gave National Panel Manager, Rob Mildenhall a warm and rousing reception as he officially declared the conference open. Mildenhall passed formalities over to MC David Newton-Ross who, after two years into his retirement, slipped comfortably into his charming, relaxed style as he welcomed sponsors, delegates, international guests and of course keynote speaker, Mike Anderson.

After a short overview of his background, Anderson declared he was not here as an all-knowing American but was here to share his experiences and relate them to our own landscape. He backed this up throughout the day by citing Australian data from his own research. To set the scene he opened with footage from the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster of 1986, which blew apart as the result of an O-ring failure. But more on this later.

Anderson discussed the importance of following OEM repair procedures, comparing it to the building code in the construction sector – there should be no other way to do things! He then discussed in detail how critical it was to do both pre- and post-scans on all repairs irrespective of the size and complexity of the job. He compared OEM and aftermarket scan tools, explained how to justify all line-items on every estimate to “ensure” the repairer gets paid for the time involved. Anderson then emphasised that “the buck stops” with the repairer and that we must always do the right thing – unless you want to experience your own O-ring event!

We turned our attention to Connected Cars and Telematics and Anderson went on to explain the importance to the manufacturer who is looking to protect their brand and ensure a safe and proper repair: “This will be a paradigm shift for the collision industry as the OEM effectively becomes the first contact point in the event of a collision and therefore takes control of the process,” he said.

As I drafted this summary, I wondered how I was ever going to convey the passion with which Mike delivers his presentations. I realised that no matter how well it turns out, the reality is – you really had to be there!

Anderson wound things up with an impromptu Q&A, before handing back to Newton-Ross who moved onto a very engaging and at times entertaining panel discussion. Newton-Ross fired questions at the panel, which included repairers, the VACC, an Insurer and I-Car, discussing topics such as the challenges of staff training, the need for insurer support of a shop grading system and ultimately the importance of repairers taking control of, and responsibility for, their own destiny. As with many discussions that touch on the inter-relationships with insurers, a degree of cynicism crept into the commentary, however Newton-Ross kept it all on track.

Following the panel discussion, two high-performance business owners were then invited to share their experiences: Andrea McCarthy of McCarthy Panel Works in Mackay and Carly Ruggeri of Europanels in Geelong. Whilst their stories were quite different, the message was the same. Place value in what you do, understand your worth, learn from the past and focus on the future.

There were short presentations from international product and service providers, followed by an overview from Platinum Sponsors Lowbake Australia, Hella Gutmann and Hyundai Genuine Parts.

In closing, Dale Durden thanked all those involved, acknowledging that Mildenhall had “done all the heavy lifting” with the support of over 100 field personnel. He thanked the sponsors, the delegates, the master of ceremonies, the panellists and of course Mike Anderson. Durden added that he was extremely satisfied with the decision to open the conference to non-Capricorn members.

Finally, conscious that he was the only thing standing between 200 thirsty delegates and the bar, he invited everyone to join the Capricorn team at The National Collision Repairer-sponsored Cocktail function.

Editor: We were honoured to be Capricorn’s Media Partner for this fantastic event, and we realise that this is but a short summary of what was a great day. Look for the full story, with all the pics in our upcoming September issue.

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