Sustainability is the word I like to use when describing to shop owners what they must do to continue doing business in the collision industry. In my explanation, I try to illustrate how a shop owner must adapt to their environment to keep their business operating through future changes.
So, what does this really mean? The environment seen in some of today’s shops is not an environment that will allow continued operation in the collision industry and shop owners cannot rest on status quo — waiting to see what happens. Understand that status quo is not positioning yourself for sustainability, it’s just treading water in a rising river.
The first step in positioning yourself for sustainability is to align your shop with the requirements identified in the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Collision Repair Provider Definition. You must take a good, hard look at your environment — your business. This must be your immediate focus. As you review the definition you will find it focuses on OEM repair procedures and equipment, with a strong emphasis on training. You will find that the training mentioned will come from multiple resources: OEM, Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR), Automotive Management Institute (AMi) and others. Following the CIC definition will help you identify what needs to change to meet the expectations of our evolving industry.
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To remain successful in our industry, OEM repair procedures must be the entity that controls repairs in your facility. In the article “Achieving, maintaining OEM certifications will be key to sustainability,” I discuss how OEM certifications, as well as OEM procedures, are becoming more prevalent in our industry. While OEM procedures are not new, they have only been brought to the forefront in the last few years. Additionally, OEMs are making huge strides in directing customers to OEM-certified repair facilities. There are several vehicle manufacturers mandating that vehicles in their lease programs are only repaired at certified repair centers. If you are waiting to become OEM certified, you will be left behind and, sadly, once vehicle manufacturers reach their shop limit, you will be left out.
Acquiring OEM certifications is a painstaking, but important, step in positioning yourself for sustainability. With OEM certifications you become an authority on the repair processes required by the manufacturer for which you are certified. Learning how to review these processes and having the ability to document damages on a vehicle accurately is a must. I review this in “The need to re-program damage appraisers” (ABRN.com/reprogram) and "Documentation is key to communicating the collision repair process," explaining that repair operations must be described exactly as they are to be completed. This ensures the damage appraisal communicates effectively to all parties connected to the repair and allows you to take charge of the repair process by identifying each required step and documenting the steps individually through repair lines using the OEM repair procedures as justification.