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COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of life in 2020, including how we do business. New and unique challenges have arisen, resulting in the close-knit auto repair community to come together more than ever before. As a way to continue to provide opportunities of growth and answer some questions about this uncertain time, virtual conferences have begun to pop up. 

Kukui has partnered with other leading companies to provide free virtual conferences filled with business building strategies, relevant and current information, and a way for the community to come together. Ratchet+Wrench sat down with Kathleen Jarosik, owner of Xpertech Auto Repair in Englewood, Fla., to discuss the importance of virtual conferences as well as her experience at the 2020 Virtual Conference, presented by Kukui and ATI.  

 

Why do you think conferences and training sessions are so important for owners to attend?

There are so many reasons to go to industry conferences and training sessions. These events are all about increasing knowledge in your field, which is very important. The technology in our industry is growing and changing so fast, that by the time something is written, it's almost outdated. 

I think conferences really give you the up-to-date information that you need, and ways to implement that knowledge back at your shop. Industry events also provide a network of people that understand you and your challenges. 

 

Do you think there is even more of an importance for conferences during our current climate?

Definitely. I know my shop slowed down for about three weeks at the beginning of COVID-19. It wasn't like ghost town, but business slowed down significantly. We're now picking back up, but I think having all of the connections that I've made, and the online conferences and sessions have helped us get through these past few months. 

I think that right now, we are all facing the same demons and challenges, nobody knows what right looks like⁠—so being in a network of other owners is very important. 

 

Do you think conferences still have a good amount of value when done virtually?

Absolutely, I think virtual conferences should happen at least once a year. These types of conferences allow for people to attend who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity if it were in person. 

I had a service advisor reach out to me, as well as a couple of shop owners, who were in the 2020 Virtual Conference and had never been to a conference before. Because normally, these owners of smaller shops can’t afford to leave their business to go to physical conferences. They were telling me how much they got out of the experience and the value they see from attending them.

These virtual conferences touch a whole sector of people who not only can’t make it to a conference because of COVID-19 issue, but have also never been able to attend a conference.

 

What was the process to attend the 2020 Virtual Conference? How was the conference set up?

The conference was on Zoom (a video chat service through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform). I just registered through the website and got the link right away in my email. They made it very easy and accessible for everyone. 

This conference lasted two days, and went on for around five hours each day. Once on Zoom, there was one main presentation room, and then at certain times it would split and go into a track A or a track B for breakout sessions. 

There was also a live chat going on throughout the conference where people could ask questions or make connections, which was really cool. 

 

What were some takeaways from the 2020 Virtual Conference?

We talked a lot about ROI and how to measure different KPIs, as well well as COI (cost of ignoring). Marketing was discussed⁠—how it’s more of an attitude than a department⁠—and how to make videos to stay connected with clients through social media during these times. I also learned about different companies and services that were participating in the conference.

People were interacting and chiming in through the chat as well, so attendees could also learn from each other. 

 

Would you attend another virtual conference?

Hands down; I would go to another one next week.

 

Kukui is partnering with NAPA for the upcoming NAPA AutoCare Virtual Conference on July 9th and 10th at 11:00 a.m. CT. This two-day business conference will kick off on Thursday morning with a live general session. Then, multiple tracks of breakout sessions and general sessions discussing best practices for our industry will be offered. You will also be able to walk through the Virtual Expo and AutoCare vendor booths. Register for free, here.

 

If you would like to learn more about Kukui, visit kukui.com/rw or call (877) 695-6008

 

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