BodyShop Business
Prepare Your Business for the Future

1/13/2012 11:53:00 AM

During my time at Industry Week, I had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time at AAPEX and SEMA. It’s always exciting to see so many companies and all of the innovative and creative ideas that are continuously flowing out of our great industry. The great thing about the automotive industry is that we seem to be able to create new ideas and innovations as well as adapt other new technologies from other industries.

The collision repair space benefits from this technology transfer also. We get new products and often new and improved repair procedures, all of which is very positive but does cause me a bit of concern.

While walking the floor at AAPEX, my attention was drawn to the Shop of Tomorrow booth. During my tenure in the original equipment side of the business, I spent seven years inside a technology-based division, and so I tend to be drawn to interesting uses of technology. The Shop of Tomorrow booth was centered around telematics, its current capabilities and what it can be applied to in the automotive service and repair side. If you’re not familiar with telematics, it’s basically the vehicle’s ability to communicate its codes/concerns with an outside remote source. The technology utilizes the OBDII port with a small transmitter that can communicate fault codes to a central receiving entity. This information can then be analyzed and broadcast to multiple destinations that might be interested in the codes.

Follow this scenario: a driver’s vehicle presents a code in the vehicle’s OBDII system, and that code is then broadcast to a central receiving entity that uses probability tables to analyze and predict what the issue might be. This information is then transmitted to the driver’s preferred automotive repair specialist for booking an appointment. Simultaneously, the repairer’s preferred parts supplier’s inventories are scanned to see if the replacement part is in stock. If so, it can be shipped to the repairer. If the driver of the vehicle is the owner of a smart phone, they can be notified of their appointment time and when they can expect to get their vehicle back. This could conceivably happen before the driver even notices a check engine indicator.

I know this all sounds like Star Wars stuff, but I’m a witness to the fact that it’s here, it’s built and it works. GM has had a little thing called OnStar for some time now that has all these capabilities and more. You need to trust me that they’re not the only car manufacturer with this type of capability.

Here’s my concern: this technology is here and coming soon to a vehicle to be repaired by you! If it’s not this technology, it’ll be one of the other who knows how many headed our way. Ask yourself, “Am I ready for all this? Am I trained? Do I have the right equipment?”

I know I harp on this subject every year, but now is the time to commit to preparing your business for the future. Our industry has great training and certifications available through organizations like I-CAR, ASE, the associations and many educational institutions. It’s up to you to send your people and make the commitment to be ready for all the change that’s bound to be thrust upon us in the upcoming years.

Let’s get going!


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