Are You Certifiable - BodyShop Business

Are You Certifiable

SEMA is helping accessory installers and techs get national recognition for their know-how and make themselves more marketable through its installer certification program. The tests include electric sunroofs, body exterior components, leather interiors and roof treatments.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association is offering installers and technicians the opportunity to earn national recognition of their skills through its Installer Certification Program.

SEMA has teamed up with the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence for this certification designed for accessory installers. Installers must pass one or all of the tests offered along with ASE’s A6 exam on electrical/electronic systems to earn SEMA credentials.

The program’s four tests include electric sunroofs, body exterior components, leather interiors and roof treatments.

“They’re very job-related [test questions],” says Ellen McKoy, senior director of dealer relations for SEMA. “They’re very specific to the kinds of scenarios that an installer or technician would encounter in the installation or repeat diagnosis and repair of these product categories. It tests installers’ hands-on knowledge and the depth of their experience in installing electric sunroofs etc., and in diagnosing certain kinds of common problems and how to fix them.”

Installers took the program’s first tests Nov. 8, 2001. A total of 173 installers registered for a total of 207 tests. And more than 68 percent of the people who enrolled passed at least one or more exam – which, according to McKoy, isn’t surprising.

“Generally when you launch a program of this type, you find that the people who step up to the plate are the ones who are of the highest caliber – the ones who have the highest degree of skill,” she says.

The association is encouraged by results of the first exams and hopes that other installers participate in the certification process and that those who didn’t pass retake the tests.

SEMA hopes the program will elevate the level of quality and professionalism within the specialty automotive industry and will give consumers and new-vehicle dealers a means of defining an installer’s skill level and competency.

Shops will then be able to advertise that they employ SEMA or ASE techs. Even though consumers may not know exactly what that means, they’ll know it means certified. Says McKoy: “[I know I’d] be more comfortable giving them my $50,000 or $60,000 Cadillac Escalade.”

What’s In It for You
SEMA expects the certification program to serve as a tool to measure a company’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction and to provide for better marketability of the products and services that drive the industry.

And from an individual standpoint, certification not only makes installers feel good about themselves, but it’s also a leverage tool. Certified installers become more marketable.

“We’re already seeing members who pay for their employees to take the tests or who promise that they’ll reimburse them if they pass,” says McKoy. “They offer a pay raise or some other type of incentive to show their employees that ‘if you achieve certification, you’re a more valuable employee to me.’ “

It means more to the shop owner, too.

“People will be more inclined to buy it if they think the stuff is reliable and that the people putting it on the vehicle are reliable. That’s the philosophy behind it,” says McKoy.

SEMA exams will be conducted on Thursday, May 9, at many locations across the country, and SEMA will offer its fall exams in November – but has yet to set a specific date. To request a Fall 2002 SEMA Registration Booklet and Test Preparation Guide, including details on registration and test fees, visit SEMA online at

For information on the A6, contact ASE by mail at 101 Blue Seal Drive S.E., Suite 101, Leesburg, Va. 20175; by phone at (703)669-6600; or on the Web at A

Writer Cheryl McMullen is associate editor of BodyShop Business.




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