Christian Brothers Automotive Throws Epic Annual Conference
Christian Brothers Automotive Throws Epic Annual Conference

What makes a conference epic? Truly inspirational speakers, (not forced) team bonding, and really awesome swag bags.

There are so many intentional, just-plain-smart details that go into Christian Brothers Automotive’s Mastering the Difference Conference that it comes as no surprise that they’ve been recognized in the past for their outstanding annual event.

Held in Austin, TX, the goal of the three-day conference is to inspire, educate and build stronger relationships amongst the leaders of the Christian Brothers Automotive system.

“Every year, I’m so excited to see the people who represent Christian Brothers,” says Donnie Carr, vice president of operations for Christian Brothers Automotive. “There’s so much talent. We have an amazing team out there, and it’s amazing to see how much they care about our customers.”

At the annual event this past September, with around 210 in attendance, Carr and other conference leaders made just as much of an effort to have fun as they did to educate and improve processes. One night was filled with arcade games, and another included catching the Sunday night football game. They also took time to give back, making blankets and bears for children who are picked up by law enforcement in negative situations.

There are also the swag bags, which are no joke. Gifts in the past have included iPad minis and L.L. Bean house slippers.

“We want to make it something that the franchisees are upset if they miss it,” Carr told Franchise Times. “We want them to know they’re a big deal. We want them to know we’re investing in them.”

And what would an epic conference be without an epic keynote speaker? This year, Anthony Bourke, a former air force pilot who was part of the crew that flew over New York City on 9/11, spoke to conference attendees about the importance of communication and team building.

With a reputation for impressive conferences fueling everything they do, Carr points out that they strive to make the conference better every single year, just as they do the Christian Brothers Automotive business. Until four years ago, only the service managers attended the annual conference. Recognizing how integral their technicians were to running a smooth business, they began inviting lead technicians, as well.

“Technicians are a huge part of what makes Christian Brothers successful,” says Carr. “This way, we’re hearing from both sides and it’s great for team building.”

To wrap up the conference, they hold a trade show with around 50 vendors present. Carr says it’s a great way for people to see if there are products they don’t know about, or learn about different tactics for efficiency.

And now that this 2016 conference has wrapped up, Carr and the leadership team are already brainstorming how to make next year’s conference even better. One big change might be an invitation to attendees’ spouses.

At its core, the Mastering the Difference Conference is really an opportunity to strengthen relationships and share best practices.

“We have seen that the information shared at the conferences is really implemented,” says Carr. “We’re all learning from each other.”