The last quarter of the year is a time to reflect on the current year and decide what changes need to be made to allow a fresh start in the new year. Regardless of what we think or what we like, the collision industry continues to change, and individually you must prepare yourself for these changes. Just recently I-CAR changed their Professional Development Program, GM launched their Collision Certification Program and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems was the buzz topic at NACE Automechanika in Atlanta.
While I know change isn’t comfortable for anyone, shop owners must take the time today to look at their business to see if they are prepared for the future. I have conversations with shop owners who do not feel they need to make changes, but their shops often tell a difference story. While some of them just need a good cleaning and reorganization, others require much more to be competitive with those who are changing their mindset to meet the expectations of our evolving industry.
I remember when there were three categories for shops — A, B and C — but that has changed also to meet the complexity of newer vehicles. The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) definition illustrates the categories are now narrowed down to two — General Collision Repair provider and Advanced Repair Capable provider. I encourage shop owners to use the CIC General Collision Repair definition as a guide to measure their business and see how prepared they are for the future. As you review the definitions, you will see it focuses on OEM repair procedures, equipment and training. You can use the definition guide to make a checklist to identify where you need to concentrate to meet the requirements.
Another tool I frequently use to measure a shop’s capabilities is the Assured Performance Minimum Certification Requirements checklist, which covers some of the same areas as the CIC definition with a little more detailed. Since it is geared towards OEM certification, you will find specific equipment and processes identified; don’t be concerned with the specifics, focus on the type of equipment and the training listed.
It doesn’t matter which program you use to validate your shop, both will give you an idea of where your operation fits within the new normal and can help you detail what changes you need to make. Once you have reviewed the requirements outlined in the two sources, you will need to decide how you are going to move forward. I am sure you can appreciate that unless you are in the top 20 percent to 25 percent of the industry, status quo is not an option. OEMs are already notifying customers where their certified shops are and are making the use of certified shops mandatory in lease agreements.