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CARSTAR Conference Concludes: 'Best Time Ever' To Be in Collision Repair

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 15, 2022)—On the last day of the 2022 CARSTAR Conference, the first such in-person event since 2019, was described as half conference, half family reunion.

And in the conference's final keynote address, Dave Luehr of Elite Body Shop Solutions sent attendees off with a positive message.

"Don't give up on your dreams," said Luehr. "This is the best time ever to be in the collision repair business."

In the midst of that message however, the myriad of challenges facing the industry cannot be ignored, and Luehr offered solutions to operators dealing with labor shortages and rising costs. As Luehr argued, when it comes to labor shortages, that problem is real but not new. And what is often described as a talent shortage is perhaps a misnomer. There is no shortage of great talent, Luehr said, what there is is a lack of "magnetic businesses" for talent to work at.

What makes a magnetic business? Luehr outlined five qualities of shops that will draw talented employees like a magnet.

  1. Meaningful work—Do employees feel the work they do matters?
  2. Acknowledgement—Are employers properly recognizing employee achievements?
  3. Measurement—How is success being measured?
  4. Teamwork—Are employees on their own or are they a part of a team?
  5. Goal Guidance—Are employers doing all they can to help employees reach their goals?

Making a magnetic business involves building the best shop, finding the best employees, and keeping the best employees. Luehr cited examples of shops that get involved with educational programs, in essence pre-qualifying student employees to one day hire full time. And in hiring younger employees, specifically from Generation Y—better known as Millennials—and Generation Z, owners must be aware of the expectations of that generation.By 2025, Luehr said, 70% of workers will come from one of those generations. And those employees expect workplaces that possess all the qualities of a magnetic business.

"Become the employer of choice," Luehr said.

Luehr's Friday address was one of the last events of the CARSTAR Conference that drew attendees from across the United States and Canada. Owners from both countries were honored later Friday morning as CARSTAR announced Kyle Murphy (U.S.) and Romena Deokinandan (Canada) as CSI Award winners and Mike Chilton (U.S.) and Colin Manuel (Canada) with the LOR Award. As of Friday morning CARSTAR was nearing its $25,000 goal in honor of 25 years of raising money for cystic fibrosis research. The conference kicked off with a charity walk for cystic fibrosis, a focus of the charitable efforts of CARSTAR.

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