The Conference began on Thursday afternoon with not one, but two OEM led Information sessions. Paul Stella, Manager Certified Collision Repair for Toyota/Lexus presented to attendees about the importance of identifying counterfeit parts and what impact improper components have on the quality of the repair. It was immediately followed by a futuristic look at collision repair with an electric presentation by Volkswagen/Audi Certified Collision Repair Program Manager, Scott Wideman. This marked the first time in CSN’s History that OEM representatives were not only in attendance but presented to the attendees.
As the afternoon sessions closed the venue shifted to the Voltigeurs de Québec Armoury for a night of authentic Quebec entertainment. Guests were welcomed with music and performances by a live band before entering an extraordinary event space to experience a Vendor Showcase. More than 25 of CSN’s vendor partners were present to exhibit their respective products and services to the shop owners, insurers, and automakers in the room. From maple syrup stations to lumberjacks to an in-house Olympic hockey legend, the evening had a genuine and uniquely Canadian feel.
As the attendees streamed into the Conference meetings Friday morning, they were greeted by none other than Quebec City’s founder, Samuel de Champlain. The character directed a spirited introduction to the history of Quebec before introducing four CSN shop owners who presented their own CSN origin stories. The CSN Journey opening address spanned the coasts as Dana Alexander from CSN Dana’s in New Brunswick, Jeff Jones from CSN Jones in Ontario, Gary Laschuk from CSN Reflections in Alberta, and Daryl Kruger from CSN On Line in British Columbia told their peers about what CSN means to them and why they joined the network.
The theme of story telling continued when Brand Strategist, UCLA Professor, and Marketing guru Sasha Strauss took the stage. The founder and Managing Director of Innovation Protocol – a strategic brand consulting and design firm – applied an energetic and ultramodern approach to Marketing and Branding. He emphasized the importance of understanding the current generation of consumers, The Herogen, and how by crafting a unique story arc, a business can become more appealing to their customers. One of the most impressive moments of the hour was Strauss’ thoughtful commentary on brand perception. “A brand is an exclusive and desirable idea and great brands have the power to change perception. The customer can be misinformed but your brand can impact their perception of your business.” Strauss stated emphatically.
With the audience primed for more Marketing related content CSN’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Ashley Thorpe took to the stage to provide an update on future plans and strategy. Ashley announced the new fall campaign fueled by CSN Brand Ambassador James Hinchcliffe. The crowd was treated to a new video that will be featured on TV channels TSN, Canadian Traffic Updates (CTN), and The Weather Network. In addition, she introduced CSN’s new Communications Specialist, Jarred Jones who revealed a website upgrade (www.csncollision.ca), a commitment to increased involvement on Social Media, and heightened focus to bolster the company’s presence within Industry Publications. It is clear that the marketing and communications side of CSN’s strategy is trending upwards.
The break offered those in attendance a chance for reflection on the previous sessions. Transitioning from Canadian History, to the CSN Journey and the power of story telling made the pivot to a more specific genre palatable for the audience. Nashville Tennessee native, Dave Luehr delivered a speech on what the world’s best body shops are doing. A specific and detailed outline of the processes and best practices that he sees collision industry leaders doing at their respective facilities.
As the Conference continued, the next to speak was Best Selling Author and Psychologist, Liane Davey. Her discussion of healthy conflict resonated with the crowded room as she examined the ways that conflict avoidance can often create larger issues if left unchecked. One of the most interesting aspects of her address was her approach to Conflict Debt – an absence of conflict in many business team dynamics. “If you aren’t willing to have the hard conversations as a leader, you are leaving the conflict debt in the hands of someone less equipped to pay it off.” Davey, said as the room full of business owners, many of whom are entrepreneurs, nodded along to her sentiment. Team dynamics and embracing difficulty as opportunity was the perfect transition to the afternoon’s next Keynote.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Women’s ice hockey legend, Cheryl Pounder was met with thunderous applause when she took stage. Many of the attendees watched Cheryl on TV in either the 2002 Salt Lake City or 2006 Turin Olympic Games. Accompanied by some impressive golden hardware Pounder told a riveting story of what it was like being an elite athlete and how adversity, defeat, and triumph all play into who we are. Highlighting the importance of mentorship and teamwork, Cheryl eloquently and enthusiastically recited the stories that helped her become an exceptional athlete. “My first team Canada practice I went to the front of the line to start a drill, a veteran pushed past me and said, ‘watch me so when you go, you know how to do it right’.” Pounder told the crowd. A fitting connection to CSN’s mission of being at the forefront of industry and its commitment to doing things right the first time.
The first ever Frontenac Family Feud saw a team of CSN licensees compete with a team of Insurer’s in a Family Feud style spin-off. The CSN Collision Centres Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Larry French hosted a 30-minute trivia session that included a fast money round won by Team CSN. Their victory solidified a $10,000 donation to Make-A-Wish Canada and offered a lighthearted transition to an evening of celebration.
The CSN Collision Centres Evening of Excellence was as close to a red-carpet affair as an industry conference can get. The immaculately decorated event space was abuzz with eager attendees all hopeful that they would be walking out of the Awards night with a trophy. Dedication, Experience, and Sales Growth were just some of the Awards categories CSN shops were nominated in. The Most Prestigious Award of the night and CSN’s highest honour is the Shop of the Year Award, which was won by Steven Dupont and the team at CSN Lou’s in Calgary, Alberta.
With the fun and games over and the Awards of Excellence given to their deserving recipients, the Conference transitioned to the final day’s events. Saturday morning opened with a Town Hall featuring the CSN Executive Team. The session kicked off with a spirited address from CSN’s Chief Operating Officer Flavio Battilana who provided an update on the direction of the company. With confidence and conviction, Battilana committed to their growth plan and a future built on a strong foundation. “We’re going to stay in our lane and do what we do best, which is repair the car the right way the first time. We will continue to grow by focusing on industry relations and leveraging our scale and through those efforts, we will help you increase your profitability.” He said assuredly.
In a sign of appreciation for the efforts of the team to organize the event, Flavio Battilana once again took to the stage, this time to call the entire CSN Corporate Staff up with him. They were met with a rousing applause that grew to a standing ovation. After 3-days and more than a dozen working sessions, the 2019 CSN Collision Centres National Conference wrapped. “This is exactly what we needed, we are thrilled with how Conference went this year and we owed it to our shops, they deserve this.” Battilana said.