Collision Repairers: Take the Oath … Continued

Collision Repairers: Take the Oath … Continued

Taking back the industry begins with collision repairers starting to work together for the benefit of both themselves and their customers.

In the past two issues of BodyShop Business, I wrote about the concept of the collision repair industry (through the efforts of an industry association or collective) developing, adopting and promoting an Oath of Professional Ethics and Conduct, much like that of the medical industry’s Hippocratic Oath, “To Do No Harm.” I provided a sample of the proposed declaration along with only a partial listing (due to space) of the first 15 commitments and an explanation for each: 

  • The safety of my customers will be my first and foremost consideration.
  • To have a sense of personal obligation to each individual consumer.
  • To make recommendations to the best of my training, ability and judgment.
  • I will only recommend procedures that I believe are reasonable and necessary.
  • I will only charge fees/prices that I believe are reasonable and competitive.
  • To perform high-quality repair services at a fair and just price.
  • Commit to lifelong pursuit of education to improve my abilities and service.                  
  • Conduct business in a professional and courteous manner at all times.
  • To employ and utilize the best-skilled technicians obtainable.
  • To care and protect the vehicle and its contents to the best of my ability.
  • To acquire and make available the latest training for our technicians.
  • Uphold the highest standards and integrity of our industry and profession.
  • To always conduct myself as a true professional in all circumstances.
  • To seek to expose and help to correct all known abuses within my industry.
  • To use only proven merchandise of high quality sold by reputable firms.

The following are the remaining 10 commitments which were not addressed in my previous article

  • To list all parts and adjustments in the pricing for the service rendered. In most states, preparing a detailed list of replacement parts and services and their pricing is mandatory. Even if a mandate does not exist, a conscientious, quality-oriented repairer should provide this to his or her customer as a standard practice.
  • Commitment to teach other industry professionals who swear the Oath. “No one ever stood so tall as when they knelt to help another up.” Every conscientious repairer should share their knowledge with their his or her industry members to help raise the level of professionalism, quality service/workmanship and image of the collision repair industry at-large.
  • Will expose wrongdoing, errors and omissions as may be discovered. The old adage, “See something, say something,” applies. Should a repairer find remaining issues related to a prior loss and repair, he or she should bring them to the customer’s attention and help seek a remedy to safeguard the customer’s personal and economic welfare and the safety of others.
  • I will not condone or attempt to hide errors and omissions. A conscientious professional should always inform his or her customers where others may have erred in damage and repair assessments regardless of if by error/oversite or intentional omission of quality parts, services and/or needed materials.
  • To adhere and follow all local, regional, state and federal laws. This calls for all quality-oriented repairers to research, know and fully understand their legal responsibilities as well as those of others who may involve themselves in the customer’s repair.
  • To apply established and accepted high-standard practices for proper repair. Today, following the manufacturer’s recommended and mandated repair procedures and recommended parts and materials is the only way conscientious repairers can best serve themselves, their companies and the consumers they serve. Performing thorough research and application of OEM procedures and recommendations is necessary.
  • At all times, I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity. This simply means to “Do the right things, in the right way, for the right reasons” at all times.
  • Inform the customer and answer to the customer at all times relative to his or her repair. A conscientious repairer will regularly update customers to keep them abreast of the status of their repairs and, when needed, discuss any and all issues requiring customers to make decisions on how to proceed with their repairs, including when outside sources attempt to impede the repairer’s ability to perform a proper and thorough repair.
  • Maintain facilities that are attractive, safe, clean, and employee- and customer-friendly. Doing so successfully not only makes the repairer’s company look like a quality-oriented facility to the community, but it also gives the customer confidence that his or her vehicle will be well cared for. It is equally effective at garnering the respect, pride and long-term commitment of the company’s employees/team members.
  • Support my industry at the local, state and national levels. Becoming a member of local, state and national collision repair industry associations will not only benefit the owner and his or her company, but it will also benefit the organization and the collision repair industry as a whole. Quality-oriented repairers must be committed to the ongoing improvement of the collision repair industry, and there is no better way to do so than by sharing your philosophy of quality and service with others and encouraging support for legislation that will positively impact the auto body industry.

Summary

Most will agree that the collision repair industry continues to face many obstacles, and it’s not uncommon for repairers to feel alone and abandoned — and, for the most part, you are. This is due to several factors, one of which is the fragmentation of the collision industry over the past few decades and the division between the various industry sectors, such as the high-volume low-value service providers I often refer to as the “Shake-N-Bakes,” direct-repair program (DRP) shops, multi-shop organizations (MSO), OEM-authorized dealership body shops and the independent collision centers whose level of service and workmanship varies.

Where local, state and/or national collision industry repair associations exist, it’s important to have the quality-oriented, conscientious repairers present and involved to ensure that their interests and successes are made known to others. After all … the quietest voices in the room are the ones who are not present. In logging 20-plus years as an officer and board member of various local, state and national collision repair industry associations, I’ve seen the lack of participation and apathy harm the industry and repairers, not to mention their unwary customers and community members. I’ve also seen other industries rally around one another and work together to take unfair advantage of collision repairers and their customers, which continues today across the nation.

We must take back our industry and conduct ourselves in a positive and righteous manner, and it can only begin when like-minded repairers, regardless of the industry sector in which they operate, begin to work together for the benefit of both themselves and their community members/customers. 

As we’ve heard before, “Either one is part of the problem or part of the solution,” and each has the power to choose which they wish to be. It begins with the choice to adopt a commitment of servitude to one’s community, as illustrated in the aforementioned code of conduct and each repairer taking the responsibility of raising the bar of the collision repair industry. 

Each of my consulting clients will be receiving the opportunity to adopt and implement this Oath of Ethics and Professional Conduct, and I encourage you to consider doing the same.

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