ASA-MI hosts the Great Lakes Event because it provides an opportunity for the automotive service and repair industry to spend a day enhancing their skills. A morning and an afternoon training session were offered for office staff, management and owners. The major attraction at this year’s event was the participation of Elite Worldwide, a company that provides coaching, consulting and training for automotive repair businesses. Elite Worldwide conducted abridged versions of two of their popular classes: High Impacts Sales II and 8 Steps to a More Profitable Shop.
Ray Fisher, President of ASA-MI, states, “We were blessed to have Bob Cooper and Doris Barnes from Elite Worldwide present to great classes for the Great Lakes Event. When we called Bob, the first thing he asked was ‘when will it be, and what can I do to help?’ before we even discussed any other details. Bob and Doris did a fantastic job with our group – and the various role playing episodes they performed within their presentations, I think, really brought home to reality for a lot of the folks. The attendees raved about the sessions and the venue--this was truly another success.”
Though ASA-MI sponsors the Great Lakes Event, it is open to the entire industry; however, association members receive the benefit of attending at a reduced rate.
The low admission price also included fabulous food for attendees. In addition to a breakfast break in the morning, participants indulged in a “Tour of Italy” lunch buffet, and during their afternoon break, attendees were treated to a “Touch of Autumn”, featuring pumpkin bread, apple cider and other seasonal treats.
Fisher said the event was a success. “The surveys came back with great enthusiasm and comments were all extremely positive. I’m biased, but our results weren’t. According to the feedback we received in the surveys, it was the best that many had attended, the venue was very conducive, and the professionalism was first class – much like what was stated last year!”
During the Great Lakes Event, ASA-MI also updated attendees on some of their initiatives over the past year. Fisher explains, “We’ve accomplished a great deal when meeting with our committees, some key State Representatives and Senators, and various State Department Directors, and we are seeing those efforts coming to fruition. For example, the Director of the Bureau of Licensing and Regulatory Division which issues the licenses to the Automotive Repair Industry shared some of the things they have accomplished from our efforts of over a year ago. Along with my Board, we’ve been very busy behind the scenes, but unfortunately, sometimes that goes without knowledge. The challenge is that our sponsorship dollars are gone in this tough economy, and our primary revenue is from membership, so each year, we have to carefully budget activity based on the membership revenue, and it has been tough for all of us; hence, the reason we have taken many things virtual. The old saying ‘many hands makes for light work’ applies to membership as well—more members and more revenue streams helps us remain effective.”
Another of ASA-MI’s projects over the past year has been to create a “Members Only” community website which contains important document libraries for the industry and a virtual library for relevant webinars, among many other features. With regard to ASA-MI’s work, Fisher notes, “we are here representing the entire collision and mechanical repair industry here in Michigan; the results of our work help raise the professionalism here in our state for all of the licensed repair facilities, not just our members The question to ask is: who will do it if we weren’t here?!”
Fisher explains why association events are so important to their members and the industry as a whole: “Time is a precious commodity, and I believe the demands of running a business today limit the repairer’s availability to get away. We have made drastic changes over the past couple of years, being cognizant of that by going to a more “virtual” platform in many ways, and we are placing focus on the Great Lakes Event as the ‘one time get-together’ for networking opportunities. Regardless of the leanness and the demands, we have to be able to get away at least once a year for a breather and to get new ideas.”
Due to the success of this year’s event, ASA-MI has already announced that the 2014 Great Lakes Event will be held on September 26 and 27, 2014, at the Lansing Community College West Campus; however, next year’s event will feature a few changes. For starters, it will be a two-day long event, compared to one day in the past. They will also support the Lansing Community College Automotive Program as they host their NATEF training during the same weekend.
Fisher reasons, “we believe that the Automotive Recyclers of Michigan will be hosting their annual meeting at the same time, which they have done at our first two, all of this fitting into our strategic plan for the automotive repair industry.”