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Preparing for Generation Y

Editor Jason Stahl explains why it’s important to think young.

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

An incident happened the other day between me and my brother that was one of the clearest generation-defining moments I’ve ever experienced.

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My brother, Danny, is 23 and defined as a “Millenial,” or Generation Yer. I’m 41 and part of Generation X. He came over my house to use my VCR to convert my parents’ old family VHS tapes to DVD, which was going to be his Christmas present to them. I was rooting around in a closet looking for an old remote (don’t ask what it might have been doing in the closet; I don’t know) and realized I needed a flashlight.
I reemerged in the living room and said, “I need a flashlight” and starting pawing through the drawer where last I remembered putting my big, black, C battery-powered Maglite.

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“Hey,” Danny said. “Did you know there’s an app now that can turn your cell phone into a flashlight?” He then proceeded, after a couple taps on his phone, to beam a bright light out of the top of it.

I looked at him like he had three heads, but I didn’t want to totally burst his bubble.

“That’s really cool, but I think I’ll stick to my trusty Maglite,” I said, lifting the behemoth that could double as a weapon above my head for added effect.

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And then it occurred to me: my brother represents the next wave of customers who will come into your shop. He thinks there’s an app for everything. What if you don’t have an app where he can check on the status of his car or contact you at the scene of an accident? What if you don’t have a way for him to request an estimate online? It’s likely he’ll pass you up.

What if a 23-year-old technician struts into your shop to start his first day of work? Do you have an environment that will challenge and engage him? One where he’s encouraged to solve problems and look for “better ways” to do things rather than do things the old way “just because?” If you haven’t yet thought about this, it’s high time you do.

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