New car in the shop – front end looks like it ran into a tree. It did! So, what’s it going to take to get it back on the road? Well, it starts with you, the estimator. As an estimator, you need experience, good judgment, diplomatic skills and accurate information.
With the ever changing complexity of today’s vehicles that confront you and your team on a daily basis, access to manufacturer’s repair information is and will be one of the most important tools you will utilize on a daily basis. Whether you are an Estimator, Manager, Insurance Adjuster, Technician or part of the Production Team, proper repair procedures from the manufacturer will allow you to identify, negotiate and explain key repair plan thought processes. It will also assist and manage critical business Indicators such as cycle times, hours per day, sublet repairs, technician efficiencies, overall productivity and profits.
Only in the last few years have collision repair facilities had easy access to quality industry repair information. Prior to that, this very important tool was either not available or, if available, was cumbersome and difficult to access.
Whether you like it or not, if you are in the business of repairing vehicles after an accident, you either are in, or will soon be in, the business of vehicle diagnostics. The proliferation of electronic components, data buses and components has forced the Collision Industry to invest in new equipment, specialized training and procedures. Consider this: only 10 years ago the average vehicle had 1-3 electronic control modules installed, controlling the engine, anti-lock brake system and perhaps the transmission. By contrast, the 2008 F-150 Ford Pickup truck had 20 control modules, 50 sensors, 40 actuators running on 3 data networks. Some luxury vehicles have more than 70 electronic modules on-board.
When making repairs, collision professionals traditionally call on experience, training and generally accepted practices to deliver a vehicle that satisfies the customer, the insurer and themselves. That formula worked well for many years. Cars were pretty simple and repairs were relatively straightforward back in the “old days.” So what has changed? Just about everything: the vehicles, customer expectations, economic pressures and, last but not least, insurer requirements.
Shops, insurers and consumers all benefit when vehicles are repaired to manufacturers’ standards!
Every day, collision shops are faced with a multitude of challenges and decisions about repairing vehicles and satisfying the expectations of valued customers. One of a repair professional’s most important questions should be, “How do I ensure proper repairs based on the quality and quantity of repair information available.” With today’s fast-moving technology, procedures that were up-to-date yesterday can be out-of-date tomorrow.
From quick fixes to major structural repairs, OE information is the gold standard for collision repair. When you can demonstrate that a vehicle has been repaired to OE standards, you assure the vehicle owner and the insurer that quality and passenger safety are your first concerns.
Almost everyone in the collision industry has experienced this scenario: You repair a vehicle – in this case, a Chevrolet® Suburban® – to the highest standard possible. The owner takes delivery and drives off smiling. A few days later, he brings it back with a noise that he insists was not present before the repair. He describes a buzzing noise from the right-hand fender.
Folks in the collision industry are universally known for their savvy, determination and creativity—it’s a common thread that unites those that have chosen a career repairing collision-damaged vehicles. We enjoy doing what we do; we even revel in it at times. But no one has ever been able to turn sheet metal into gold. Barring some totally unforeseen discovery, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.
A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance
A way of acting fixed through repetition. HABIT implies a doing unconsciously and often compulsively.
With a large amount of questionable information circulating within the collision industry, it is surprising that damaged vehicles can be repaired to a consistent standard. Accurate information is the key to providing excellence in service to our customers.
Often during the week I take at least part of a day to visit collision shops in my neck of the woods. I guess I just get homesick, so to speak. I like to keep my hand on the pulse and observe the many innovative ways in which collision shops have adapted to the changing times… the technologies and processes within their respective environments.