During the final session of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit in Las Vegas, collision repairers had to confront some hard truths about their industry.
Vehicle technology is evolving at a breakneck pace. Repairing late-model vehicles is more complicated than ever. Performing pre- and post-repair scans is a necessity (and insurance carriers might not be willing to pay for it). And despite insurers consistently meddling in the repair process, body shops are very much on the hook if an improper repair leads to serious injuries.
With that in mind, panelists urged shop owners to equip themselves with the training, tooling and information needed to properly repair vehicles in today’s environment.
“The industry is changing – you need to change with it,” said Aaron Clark, vice president and general manager for the Assured Performance Network. “You have to be disciplined. You have to protect the best interests of your consumers. You have to be committed to repairing vehicles correctly. If you can’t fix the vehicle correctly, don’t fix it. And make sure that you’re spending the time to research the vehicle that you’re about to repair, to make sure that you’re armed with all the things that you need to be armed with to perform a proper repair.”
Mark Allen, collision programs and workshop equipment specialist for Audi of America, agreed.
“You are responsible to educate yourselves, train your technicians, equip your shops appropriately and make the customer aware of [what a proper repair is],” Allen said. “You are professionals. … Conduct yourselves as such.”
Dallas attorney Todd Tracy, who represented the Seebachans in their landmark lawsuit against John Eagle Collision Center, encouraged repairers to join their respective state auto body associations, “because you are professionals.”
“If your state does not have an auto body association, you need to get with your brethren in those states and you need to create an auto body association,” Tracy said. “You need to have them at the statewide level and you need to have them in the bigger cities, because that’s how you’re going to educate yourselves.”
The collision repair industry is in “a new era,” Tracy added.
“Get yourself organized,” Tracy said. “Research, document and inform.”
Erica Eversman, chief counsel at Akron, Ohio-based Vehicle Information Services, asserted that the industry needs to form a national committee – consisting of collision repairers and OEMs – to develop repair standards.
“And with those repair standards, we also need to define the necessary equipment and training standards for anybody who is working on cars or running a collision repair business,” Eversman added.