On Jan. 24, 2019, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) hosted "OEM Certifications: Not Just a Fad," a timely and valuable presentation given by AASP/NJ Board member Dave Gruskos, president of Reliable Automotive Equipment at his facility in Belford, NJ.
A noted speaker and frequent presenter at NORTHEAST® and SEMA, Gruskos gave an eye-opening look into the challenges and benefits associated with applying for OEM certification while simultaneously stressing the importance of following their guidelines.
"Your world is getting very complicated. It's changing at a rapid pace and it's either going to make you step it up, or go in a different direction," shared Gruskos. Referring to the title of the program, OEM certifications is indeed the collision repair industry's present and future.
He cited examples of technological changes and enhancements to steer home the point that the need to follow car makers' rules is mandatory, not suggestive. Referencing the widely-discussed John Eagle lawsuit, Gruskos pointed out that shop owners do not want to find themselves liable down the line if they do not fix a car correctly.
"These cars can come back to haunt you." Position statements are "not a suggested way - it is THE way - to repair a car," he expressed.
If a business wants to really stay in the game, investing the time and money into obtaining certification will be most worthwhile.
"You can't survive in this business and not be certified by [an OEM]. It's just not going to happen," suggested Gruskos.
He went over every step of the process from researching the required OEM equipment to realizing the financial investment and determining the ROI. One must be realistic about what can and can't be done.
Possibly the most crucial aspect of applying for an OEM certification is the on-site facility inspection.
"Don't have an inspector come to your shop if you are not prepared," he said, reiterating that a dirty shop is not going to go far.
OEMs want to know how staff members are being treated, continued Gruskos. This is very important to them as they are the ones who will be executing the work on their vehicles. They will take everything into consideration including things a shop owner may not be thinking about such as the facility's bathroom. An unkept facility could be an instant rejection.
Gruskos told the audience members that if the only thing they take away from the training seminar is to download manufacturers' position statements going forward, then they have done great.
"It is extremely important to just simply do it the right away."
For more information on upcoming AASP/NJ training events, visit aaspnj.org. For information on AASP/NJ's NORTHEAST 2019 Automotive Services Show, or to pre-register online for free, please visit aaspnjnortheast.com.