The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) brought together dozens of automotive industry professionals May 19 at the Holiday Inn in Clark, N.J., for a town hall meeting. All attendees were invited to speak their minds, share experiences and collaborate to find solutions to some of the biggest challenges plaguing the industry.
“It was really well-received,” said Jerry McNee, president of AASP/NJ, who led the discussion along with AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant. “The meeting served as a sounding board, allowing repairers to discuss various topics and possible ways to resolve these issues.”
Starting with a list of possible talking points, such as the labor rate and parts issues, the group worked together to identify the problems that affect their businesses the most.
“Based on the questions asked and conversations that took place, it’s obvious that the collision industry is fed up with how insurers are dealing with auto body shops at the present time,” said Bryant.
Added McNee, “It wasn’t a bitchfest. Attendees focused on what can be done to better our industry.”
As things continue to change, the “old status quo is no longer acceptable,” McNee reminded repairers. “Technicians are becoming an oddity. The cost of business is increasing. All of our expenses are increasing. It’s good to get together and learn about each other’s experiences and find out what is taking place in this industry by discussing real-world problems.”
Although the event was well-attended, McNee and Bryant agreed that more shop owners should have been in attendance.
“With all that is going on, it is a shame that there weren’t 1,600 shop owners at this extremely important event,” said Bryant.
McNee commended those who took the time to come out to the meeting as it truly showed their willingness to bring improvements to the collision repair world and demonstrated that there is hope for a better future. He believes everyone left with at least one, if not several, ideas to implement into their businesses. But first, one must be willing and open to putting in the work.
“If you aren’t willing to make change, it won’t happen,” McNee said. “Stop crying about it and do something about it.”
Added Bryant, “Until shop owners get the power-in-numbers concept through their heads, things are only likely to get worse. This was a meeting that every shop owner in the state should have attended to have their voice heard. Thank you to all who did. For those who did not, shame on you!”
For more information about AASP/NJ and its upcoming meetings, visit aaspnj.org.