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Do you need an information resource department for your collision centers?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 07:00
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I am fortunate to work for LaMettry’s Collison, a respected regional MSO with many vehicle manufacturers’ certifications and dealership relationships. As a result, we work on many newer and high-end vehicles.

Our company policy is that we repair vehicles according to vehicle manufacturer’s repair procedures. For years, it’s been part of our SOPs that our estimating staff look up and provide the procedures for structural repairs. In recent years, we are requiring that estimating staff look up procedures for virtually all repairs. With the increased prevalence of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), it has become an increasingly larger challenge. We have our own mechanical departments who have been enlarged to include almost all aspects of ADAS repair and calibration. We have been very fortunate to have a few people who have developed higher skill levels in finding the repair information we seek, which can be exceedingly difficult to find in some cases.

Among our SOPs is that the estimator put verification of the procedures in the management file. This is in the form of a PDF and must at least show the first page of the procedure and date. In that way, we can show the source and prove that the procedure is current.

We started talking about setting up our own information resource department to help with this growing need. Anecdotally, I found that there are some other MSOs and consolidators with a similar interest, but so far, I’ve not spoken anyone who has done it.

With a combination of blissful ignorance, enthusiasm and optimism, we decided to set up our own department. As I write this, we are only months into the initiative, with it being up and running for about 30 days. I will share many of our perspectives and experiences, but please understand that there is no doubt more to be learned before we can claim expertise on the topic.

Getting started

To begin, one needs to decide to what extent this department will be responsible for information. It is our belief, at least at this time, that our blueprinting estimators should continue to be responsible for looking up manufacturer repair procedures. For the most part, they have been successfully doing that, particularly regarding panel replacement procedures. It is vital that to complete an accurate and complete blueprint/estimate that the estimator know the proper procedures. We recognize that their greater challenge will be getting the procedures for ADAS work, including scans and calibrations, since they simply have less experience and expertise in this area. To assist, we implemented a policy requiring one of our high-tech people from our mechanical department review each vehicle and its blueprint and provide input before it is completed. These people are more inclined to already know of a required procedure or are inclined to suspect the necessity and research accordingly. For those of you who don’t have such staff, it will be necessary to rely on collision staff and/or an information resource department to find the ADAS procedures. We decided that our information resource department should only be there to assist in the situations where the estimator and/or mechanic/high tech person cannot find what they are looking for.

We selected a person who will dedicate part of their daily schedule to handle the information requests. We chose someone who has great vehicle and collision repair experience and knowledge. Our person has already proven themselves to be exceptionally competent in navigating sources for procedures. We set them up with passwords, log-in codes, and other forms of access to all the possible sites we could think of, including:

-ALLDATA

-I-CAR , especially the Reparability Technical Support (RTS) site

-oemonestop.com

-Identifix

-Vehicle manufacturer’s sites (note that some provide free or discounted rates though OE certification participation.)

We set up a form that can be used to submit procedure requests that is short, simplistic, and to the point. It can be filled out online and emailed to our resource department.

Costs

By starting in such a modest way, labor costs are minimal. Subscription fees to sites such as vehicle manufacturer can each be considered and evaluated based on demand.

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