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Associations Can’t Do It Alone

With more than 2,500 shops in Illinois, only 50 shops attended the most recent AASPI State Convention. How can we expect our industry associations to influence politicians, effect laws and make changes when we don’t even bother to show up?

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I’ve been in the industry since 1969 – as a shop owner from 1987 through 2000, and now as the founder of Consumers’ Auto Detective, a consumer-protection company that performs vehicle appraisals, vehicle evaluations and diminished-value reports, and provides expert witness services on behalf of consumers in local courts concerning improper repairs.

With more than 30 years in collision repair, I know what the heck the industry’s problems are, and I sure as heck don’t need someone to tell me about them. Now the cures, on the other hand … if someone were helping to find ways to fix all the problems, that’d certainly be a great thing.

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What’s your state organization doing to help solve the problems? Do you know?

Every industry publication raises the issue of DRP versus no DRP. What’s your state organization doing to help or hinder DRPs, pro or con?

Every industry publication discusses the steering issue. What’s your state organization doing about steering, pro or con?

Every industry publication discusses labor rate problems. What’s your state organization doing about your profitability, pro or con?

Every industry publication discusses the consolidation issue. What’s your state organization doing about consolidation, pro or con?

Every industry publication continues to discuss aftermarket parts. What’s your state organization doing about A/M parts, pro or con?

Every industry publication continues to discuss the shortage of technicians. What’s your state organization doing regarding the tech shortage, pro or con?

Every industry publication continues to discuss diminished value. What’s your state organization doing about DV, pro or con?

Every industry publication discusses where this industry will be one year from now, five years from now and so on. What’s your state organization doing to form that picture?

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Are you a member of your state organization? Have you told your state leaders where you stand? If you like the status quo, you better be there to protect your interest. If you want to see changes, you better be there to suggest and endorse ideas to bring about that change.

I’m a proud member of AASPI and have been a participating member of AASPI or one of its predecessors since 1978. Being part of an association has helped to keep me aware of changes in the industry. And the opportunity to rub shoulders with fellow shop owners and discuss common interests has been more than helpful in dealing with this ever-changing business. It’s impossible to attend an industry function and not come away with one idea that’ll pay for the cost of the meeting.

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The latest AASPI State Convention was no exception.

Yet with more than 2,500 shops in the state of Illinois, we had only 50 shops attend.

And we had national figures on the agenda – people who write for all of the industry publications. Yet only 50 shops in attendance.

We also had class-action attorneys Michael Hyman and Mark Goldenberg discuss the past, present and future of class-action law suits. Still, only 50 shops in attendance.

Robert Hurn, president of National Association of Independent Insurers spoke to us about the state of our industry – as the insurance industry sees it. All of this and only 50 shops in attendance.

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I know the problems, and I didn’t need anybody there to help clarify them. In fact, I’d venture to guess that probably everyone there already knew what the problems were. But we only had 50 shops in attendance. Just 2 percent of the shops in Illinois represented to discuss and set a course of action.

Could this association be a problem solver?

It could if we had numbers.

Could we influence politicians and effect laws?

We could if we had numbers.

Was it a profitable convention for those who attended? You bet.

We had people from North Carolina who came and went home better off for their participation. We had people from Ohio, including Jack Lundberg, executive director of the Ohio Board of Motor Vehicle Collision Repair Registration in Columbus, Ohio. But all we could muster was 2 percent from our own state.

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Why? I think people don’t join for a wide variety of reasons, but pride is likely one of the most prevalent ones. People aren’t willing to let a competitor know they don’t know everything. But there’s nothing like conversation to spark new ideas.

Let’s be honest here. If you’re not a member, you’re not part of the solution. And if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Ken Klein, owner
Consumers’ Auto Detective
Elgin, Ill. A

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