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2019 ABRN Collision Industry Roundtable

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 - 06:00
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Each year, ABRN hosts a Collision Industry Roundtable, bringing together a panel of collision repairers (see sidebar, “Who Was At The Table?”) to discuss what’s happening at their shop, the challenges they are facing, and what they see for their business and the industry as they look ahead. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s “roundtable” discussion (with responses edited for length or clarity).

How are you handling vehicle scanning and system calibrations? What do you do in-house, and what do you sublet?

Brad Zara

Brad Zara: Around the first of last year, we decided to dedicate one technician to scanning, and we are scanning every vehicle pre- and post-repair. We use AirPro Diagnostics, and do about 90% of our scans with that. We also have a Snap-on scan tool that we will do some older vehicles with. About 5% we send out to dealers for unique situations. Same with calibrations. We’re able to do a majority of them in-house.  We don’t have any of the targets, so any of those types of resets have to go to the dealer.

Luke Salter

Luke Salter: We scan 95% of all the vehicles. Our repair planners are running the asTech for pre-and post-scans, then our technicians are performing the test drives. Regarding calibrations, most of that is being sent to the dealership. We’ve looked into getting more into it, but we don’t have the space for it.

Bob Noaker: In the past two or three years we started scanning 100% of vehicles. We use a Snap-on scanner for most everything.

Who was at the table?

Dave Carney is the owner of Tualatin Auto Body, an I-CAR Gold Class shop in Tualatin, Ore., that is
certified by nearly a dozen automakers.

Tom Elder of Compact Kars in Clarksburg, N.J., is treasurer of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) of New Jersey, and is on AASP’s national board.

Robert Grieve is the owner of Nylund's Collision Center, in Englewood, Colo., and was elected this year to the board of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).

Bob Noaker founded Noaker's Auto Body in Duncannon, Pa., 20 years ago, and now employs 32 people.

James Rodis is the manager of Woodhouse Collision in Blair, Neb., and vice president of the Nebraska Auto Body Association.

Luke Salter is the operations officer at Trubilt Collision Center, which has two shops in Wisconsin.

Brad Zara is founder and president of Zara’s Collision Center, now in its 33rd year in business in Springfield, Ill.
Tom Elder

Tom Elder: I had a lot of faith in aftermarket scan tools until recently when we let a car go with two rear seat belt tensioners blown, with no warning light on the dash. When I went back to the [aftermarket tool] scan, it said the car wasn’t equipped with rear seat belt tensioners. But when I scanned it with the Honda tool, it immediately came up with both rear seat belt retractors blown. Aftermarket scanning tools can be accurate, and they’re certainly a lot quicker and cheaper. But the complete accuracy to protect your liability may not be there.

Dave Carney: We just had a Honda, same thing, rear seat belts. Nobody was in the back seat [at the time of the accident], but when the car was all done, we discovered at the end that the rear seatbelts had blown.

Elder: The Honda scan tool is easy to use. It’s not real expensive. And it updates once a week. Things change rapidly.

Bob Noaker

Noaker: We’ll definitely be looking into that. We actually have the GM tool here. I agree, the more factory stuff you can have, the better.

Robert Grieve: We do pre- and post- scans on everything, using a Launch or a Bosch scanner, depending on what car it is. Most of our cars are ending up at the dealer for either an inspection or a calibration, and they’re doing scans as well. So we feel we’re pretty well covered. By using the dealer as often as we do, we’re creating some good relationships. Not to mention it’s less liability for me, when you have an expert third-party in there.

Carney: I have a mechanic on staff, and he scans every car, coming and going. Anything we can’t clear goes to the dealer. As Robert said: Spread the liability, let the experts do that. And I don’t have the room, even though I have a large shop, to put up all the targets and do all that. Fortunately I have a Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Audi dealer within a mile or two of me. So they love us bringing those cars. It’s helping us build a great rapport with them. They’re sending us work like crazy. Three years ago we got rid of most of our DRPs, and with the OEM certifications, we’re doing just fine.

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