2014 is a new year, and a good chance to make some changes — in some cases, long-awaited changes — in our industry. Here’s my wish list for what I’d like to see happen in the coming 12 months.
1. We need everyone involved in this industry to agree that safe and proper repair of every vehicle is more important than cycle time or severity. As I said at my keynote address at NACE, a study following the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster found that a culture at NASA of “relaxing safety standards to meet financial and time constraints” set the stage for that failure. In some ways, insurer pressures to improve cycle time and reduce severity have forced repairers to be better businesspeople (regardless of whether that was the intention). But too much emphasis on cycle time and severity can lead to more important things being compromised. Some procedures, like zero-point calibrations on many newer import vehicles, have to be done regardless of what effect it has on cycle time or severity. If we forego necessary procedures because we’re being graded based on cycle time, severity or the number of lines on the estimate, we’re going to have a catastrophic event just like NASA did.
2. We need an interface that will allow the vendors that sell us parts (the OEM dealers, primarily) to export their invoices directly into our shop management systems. This system would update all the invoice data, including the correct parts numbers and prices. That would save us countless hours keying in or posting that information.