IAAF hosts inaugural Summer Conference

IAAF hosts inaugural Summer Conference with dynamic discussions and industry insights, bringing together industry leaders and experts.

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) successfully hosted its very first Summer Conference on 12th June at the prestigious Belfry Hotel and Spa, bringing together industry leaders, experts, and enthusiasts to discuss key themes and challenges within the automotive aftermarket sector.

The conference featured a robust agenda, highlighting the importance of effective recruitment strategies, training investment, customer-led transformations, and futureproofing the industry against emerging technologies.

The conference kicked off with networking over tea and coffee before Mark Field, Chief Executive of IAAF, opened the proceedings with a personal touch, sharing his career progression and emphasising the industry’s need for recruitment in light of new technological opportunities, commenting: “My journey in the automotive aftermarket has been incredibly rewarding, and it’s crucial we attract new talent to continue driving innovation.”

Glen Shepherd, Director of Glen Callum Associates, delivered a compelling talk on effective aftermarket recruitment, highlighting the shift from ‘the big stay’ to ‘the great reshuffle,’ discussing the challenges of employee retention versus replacement and providing tips on not only embracing new industry talent pools with transferable skills, but also keeping and nurturing current members of staff.
He noted the impact of AI on the recruitment process, urging companies to embrace technology while maintaining human contact.

“Gen Z and Millennials are shaping the future workforce with their demand for job flexibility and work-life balance. We must adapt to their behaviour and expectations,” Shepherd stated.

Alan Scott, Training Director of ASC WebCoach, provided an update on the IAAF Training Academy session following its successful launch in the summer of 2023 to support garages and motor factors by working with training providers to inform the current workforce on block exemption regulations, and electric and hybrid vehicles.

He focused on the benefits of investing in training initiatives like WebCoach, presenting statistics showing how training enhances job performance and employee integration within businesses.

Hamish Taylor, an award-winning advisor and conference speaker, was next up to deliver the keynote speech on unlocking organisational potential by adopting a customer-led approach. He gave key advice on how to engage customers by focusing on customer experience and feelings rather than just the benefits of a product or service, urging companies to reframe their value propositions.

Taylor left some key words of advice: “Your success is not about you; it’s about how you react with the world around you. Customer-led propositions are the way forward.”

The afternoon featured an engaging panel discussion hosted by Field, with NAPA Racing UK drivers Dan Rowbottom and Ash Sutton, who shared insights into their racing careers and offered advice to aspiring racers.

Mark Armitage of AutoTech Group then discussed the need to reframe the automotive aftermarket, looking at what’s influencing our sector’s future, such as new technologies, alternative vehicles, and ways of working. He also gave insights into how businesses can engage with current employees and future talent by being more inclusive and open with recruitment and retention strategies. Armitage had some hard-hitting advice for the industry: ‘If we don’t adapt, we’ll die.”

This was followed by a panel discussion with East Coast College lecturer, Matthew Yeldham, and students, Brandon Bourton from Cypress Auto Services, Tia Marsh from Page Automotive and Freddy Hewitt from PJN Motor Engineering, on shaping the industry’s future.

Sitting down with Field, they discussed their personal experiences about what and who inspired them to come into the industry and the routes students go through to achieve an apprenticeship.

During the panel, Marsh mentioned that she’s questioned whether she wants to work in the trade, reflecting on the fact that women and men are wired differently and the industry needs to adapt to make a more inclusive environment for all, and a more welcoming workshop environment for all customers.

On the importance of welcoming and supporting apprenticeships into the industry, Yeldham said: “They aren’t cheap labour; they’re the future workforce of our industry but you have to guide them and support them to help them get there.”

In his closing remarks, Mark Field thanked sponsors, Automotive Alliance Group, as well as all speakers and attendees for their support.

The conference concluded with further networking opportunities, followed by an IAAF-hosted BBQ in the evening. The following day, attendees enjoyed IAAF’s annual Golf Day, also held at The Belfry, offering a relaxed setting for members to connect and unwind.

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