“At our strategic planning session last fall, we recognized the challenges of the ‘new normal’ for automotive repair facilities and the importance of their time and ability to travel to meetings after a long stressful day. Members would also call us about missing one of our webinars, needing a business aid /form of sort or some information from the State of Michigan, etc.,” Ray Fisher, President of ASA Michigan says. “We also discussed the value of members being able to share ideas, best practices and provide feedback on various topics similar to an electronic bulletin board type of format in the past. And lastly, we needed to make sure that access to everything was convenient and available 24/7/365.”
Fisher explains that the community website has multiple folders that include a virtual library, people, groups, discussions, blogs and news.
“The website will be progressive, but for example, we started the library with four folders titled automotive repair industry, collision repair industry, mechanical repair industry and webinars. Documents or links that apply to both industries we place in the automotive repair industry folder and of course the others follow accordingly,” Fisher adds. “We also found that it was sometimes difficult for the members to attend the webinars regardless of what day or time we held them, so we added the webinar folder within the library. As long as the material remains relevant, the webinar will be accessible to the member 24/7/365.”
Fisher continues, “The opportunity for the membership to interact is invaluable today. With vehicle technology, social media, higher customer expectations, leaner operations, etc. the members need a place to share best practices and ideas immediately so they are not alone. Media allows consumers to make decisions quickly and our members need to be able to respond with educated decisions and they need to know they can go to one source to get it.”
Asked what other things are on the horizon and Fisher responds “I’m looking forward to our new “Skype with Ray” which we will hold the third Thursday of the month. Again, using technology we wanted a venue for the industry to have personable dialogue with ASA sharing their concerns, giving us ideas or even just to say ‘hi’, without having the time and financial expense of meeting somewhere physically – so we are testing this venue and will decide in September.” When asked about the format “It will be somewhat topical with an open floor towards the end and we plan on having a guest speaker from time-to-time which we believe will provide many opportunities for attendees to hear things ‘right from the horse’s mouth’ sort of thing.”
Fisher concludes, “There have been so many things affecting our industry and we needed to be responsive. Our task must remain focused on what helps members and industry be successful regardless of how painful it might be, because if we want them to remain members, they have to stay in business; and if we want them to stay in business we have to have walk through some of these difficult changes because making them just “feel good for the moment” is short term thinking – as a professional organization, we owe the industry here in Michigan that respect!”
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