Expert Says Knowing Today's 4 Generations is Key to Success
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – April 22, 2010 – Success in today’s world of collision repair is highly dependent on how well owners and managers understand the differing attitudes and preferences in play between today’s four distinct generations. That’s the view of Cam Marston, noted author and authority on multi-generational communications, speaking at the recent PPG MVP Business Solutions Conference held at San Diego’s Paradise Point Hotel. The sold-out conference, themed “Beyond Tomorrow,” drew more than 320 PPG-affiliated collision center professionals, making it the most highly attended MVP conference ever.
In his address, Marston noted that preparing for the future includes bringing out the best from employees. With four generations – known as Matures, Boomers, Xers and Millenials – now working side by side, part of that challenge is communicating and managing effectively across generational lines by treating employees as individuals. Marston defined the generations by age, Matures – 65 and older, Baby Boomers – 46 to 64, Gen Xers – 31 to 45, and Millennials – 30 and younger. He went through each generation’s characteristics, their expectations and how those qualities affect their work.
According to Marston, understanding generational differences can ease workplace frustration while increasing teamwork and productivity. For example, most Matures and Boomers put a lot of stock in their work ethic and job commitment, while for Gen Xers and Millenniels, their primary identity is outside the workplace. That doesn’t mean one generation is more productive than another, it simply means each typically has its own way of doing things. Tailoring communications to reflect these distinctions is the key to success. Marston’s words resonated with his audience.
“I was very impressed,” said Sharon Wells, general manager of Collision Clinic, St. John’s, NL, Canada. “We’re so busy just getting the job done, we sometimes don’t think about our workforce as individuals. His information was of paramount importance. I was with two others from my shop – we represented three different generations – and we now understand each other better.”
attention to social media
Another significant difference Marston pointed out is the greater use of social media by Gen Xers and Millennials than by Matures and Boomers. His statistics show 77 percent of Millennials and 61 percent of Gen Xers maintain an Internet social media Web site profile compared to 36 percent for Matures and 46 percent for Boomers. Projections indicate these percentages will grow. This also ties in to the younger generations’ thirst for information. The topic drew plenty of attention.
“In terms of pure numbers, social media plays a big role in how we need to communicate in the future,” said Norm Angrove, senior manager, PPG Value Added Programs, who facilitated a discussion group on the topic. “There are 900 million visitors to social media sites every day. And 74 percent of that is in the United States. Twitter is growing at a 3000 percent pace. Marketing today involves the five “Cs” of social media – content, community, conversation, collaboration and connection. We can’t ignore that. Collision shops have to put their message out there using this new media.”
selling to multi-generational customers
Marston pointed out that shop owners must recognize generational differences when selling their collision repair services: what is learned about communicating inside the collision center applies to cross-generational customers as well, especially now with social media marketing flourishing.
“Social media is already a big part of our marketing mix. It is an essential tool that will help us stay ahead,” said Sal Contreras, marketing director for Mike Rose's Auto Body in Concord, CA. "I heard a lot of great ideas at the conference, so we plan to use the information significantly more in the future to connect with customers, insurance agents and the insurers.”
Additional speakers, seminars and breakout discussion sessions all focused on providing attendees with assistance and tools for improving their business model and preparing their center and employees for success “beyond tomorrow.” Noted industry experts, Chris Miller, senior editor of ABRN Magazine and Githesh Ramamurthy, CEO of CCC Information Services, addressed the conference on the topics of “The State of Collision Repair” and “Data and Analysis the Industry Must Understand” respectively.
For more information about PPG MVP Business Solutions, contact your PPG territory manager, email MVPmailbox@ppg.com or visit www.ppgmvp.com.
PPG Industries’ vision is to continue to be the world’s leading coatings and specialty products company. Founded in 1883, the company serves customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, PPG operates in more than 60 countries around the globe. Sales in 2009 were $12.2 billion. PPG shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: PPG). For more information, visit http://www.ppg.com/.
about the mvp program
When introduced over a decade ago, MVP Services was the first program of its kind in the collision repair industry. Since then, thousands of collision center owners and managers have taken advantage of MVP’s innovative services to improve the way they run their business. Green Belt Training is part of the MVP program.