Monday, 19 June 2017 22:50

The Technology Party: Are You Early, Late, or Indifferent?

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It seems like technology is going to change our lives whether we want it to or not. Some people think it overly complicates things while others rush to embrace it because they believe that it makes their lives and businesses better.

In the collision repair industry, technology has helped body shops to do a better job across the board, especially on cars that have were made within the last 3--4 years. With new high-performance plastics, aluminium and sophisticated computer onboard systems on today's newer cars, collision repairers are either changing with the times or being left behind when it comes to technology.


We have seen this same scenario play out many times before. A new form of technology hits the market and some panic and run for the hills while others test the new technology and make their own decisions. I remember when California mandated the use of waterborne paint a decade ago. Some painters freaked out and avoided the switchover as long as they could. I even encountered one veteran painter back then who quit his job and went to another shop so that he could spray solvent for the next six months before it became law.


When I first started writing about the collision industry more than 12 years ago, some body shop owners were still fighting the personal computer, shop management systems, social media and other forms of emerging technology. One veteran shop owner told me back then that his computer was a "silly box on my desk" and that social media was for soccer moms and people with too much time on their hands. Since then, the entire industry has become savvier about all forms of technology and more open to using it to do better repairs, which is obviously the idea.


Back in 1962, Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies wrote a book called Diffusion of Innovations in which he presented a theory that attempts to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Rogers argued that diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated over time among the participants in a social system and then identified five distinct personality types.


So, are you an innovator or a laggard or something in between? Take a look at each of these designations and decide for yourself:


Innovators (2.5%): Innovators will camp out in line for the new iPhone while most of us will wait at least until we read the reviews and get feedback from the innovators in our lives. These people are willing to pay top dollar to be the first on shop in their area to have the latest piece of equipment or tools. They are willing to take risks; are normally younger; usually have financial resources and are extremely outgoing and interact with other innovators. Innovators end up being the beta testers of the collision repair industry; love going to shows like SEMA to find the latest and greatest and will embrace technology 2-3 years before it becomes mainstream.

 

Innovators love reading operating manuals cover-to-cover and can't wait to tell their friends about the newest equipment they just bought for their shop.


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