One of our good customers got in a very minor accident with his new Honda Pilot. The job was a simple one: Replace the bumper, right front fender and door mirror, and repair a small dent on the door.
When the vehicle came in, our estimator checked the dashlights and gauges with the engine running – one of several standard operating procedures (SOPs) we do when checking in vehicles. Everything was fine; there were no warning lights or abnormal indicators.
When we delivered the vehicle back to the customer after it was only at the shop for two days, he was delighted. However, the day after he got his vehicle back, a warning message appeared on the dash display: Headlights Not Aligned.
The owner is a busy professional, so it took him a few days to call. When he finally did, we scheduled the warranty repair and a rental for the day he dropped off the vehicle. We discovered we did not have the ability to recalibrate the vehicle, so we took it to a Honda dealer, where they did a scan and recalibrated the headlight system. Problem solved, but at what expense?
Our happy customer was inconvenienced because he had to bring the Pilot back for a warranty repair, and we had to provide two days of rental, pay the dealer $168, prepare a supplement and process the vehicle.
It turns out that the fault was caused by removing and installing the headlight as part of the repair. We didn’t know that procedure would cause a fault because we didn’t have access to the Honda repair information, which states that they require pre- and post-repair scans on all vehicles that have suffered damage that “exceeds minor outer panel cosmetic distortion.”
It was that event that influenced our commitment and sense of urgency to invest in tooling, equipment and training relative to scanning, diagnostics and calibration. Today, we have the needed equipment, tooling and training to perform pre- and post-repair scans and recalibration.
We quickly recognized the need to develop clear SOPs for our scanning, calibration and diagnostic services. The SOPs are:
Pre-and post-repair scans on all:
- Non-drivable vehicles
- Vehicles with accident-avoidance systems
- Vehicles where anything being replaced has to be reprogrammed or has a memory option such as lane-departure modules, doors with sensors, mirrors with cameras, adaptive headlamps, etc.
- Research and follow manufacturer guidelines and position statements
We currently do not automatically execute scans on small jobs where it’s obvious there is no need to scan and where the manufacturer doesn’t have position documentation.
We participate in several insurance-driven DRPs, and we consider those insurance relationships as strategic to our business and review OEM requirements, position statements and the need for scanning and calibration on an individual basis.
Developing our SOPs, followed by a review with insurance stakeholders, has eliminated a significant amount of misunderstanding
While our SOPs go a long way toward getting alignment with insurers and other work providers, we’re still learning. The SOPs allow us to review our standards with insurers and other work providers.
Blueprinting and Repair Planning
Our blueprinting and repair planning process includes a meticulous disassembly process followed by damage analysis performed by our damage analysis team. They begin by researching the manufacturer requirements, recommendations and position on the scanning and calibration process.
Next, the manufacturer documentation is compared to our standard with the appropriate SOP. In most situations, we can perform the necessary scans and calibration without having to wait for authorization to perform the services. For those who are not aligned with our standards, we provide manufacturer documentation, requirements and position, and include relative fees on the repair order.
Scan or No Scan?
At the end of the day, to scan or not to scan is determined by:
- Is it necessary to perform pre-and post-repair scans to achieve the level of our quality, customer safety and value of the customer’s vehicle?
- Does the manufacturer require, recommend or have a formal position relative to the individual customer’s vehicle?
- Is their potential risk if we do not scan? Is the manufacturer’s position that scanning is a requirement?
At the end of the day, it’s all about change and how we react to change. What we’re seeing today is not much different from changes in the past: the introduction of the fax machine, computer estimating, information technology, urethane and waterborne paint products, high-strength steel, aluminum, etc.
Our philosophy is based on, “We can if we…”, instead of, “This won’t work.” We see the changes in our business and industry as significant challenges but extraordinary opportunities.