As a 30-year veteran of the collision repair industry, I can say that this industry always keeps me on my toes. The challenge today is keeping up with changing vehicle technology and repair standards to consistently deliver high-quality repairs.
There isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all solution to address this challenge. You have to address it on a number of fronts, so there are several elements to this challenge that we’re tackling at my CARSTAR locations in Sidney, Troy and Piqua.
Correct OEM Repair Information
Having the right repair information is key, but it can be a hurdle to get all of the information you need on a timely basis as vehicle designs and features evolve so quickly. We’re working with several sources for information, but we’re evaluating other options for more detailed OEM repair data.
There are also varying standards from OEM to OEM – some mandate pre-repair and post-repair scans and others do not – and insurance carriers also vary on what they will cover. We work closely with CARSTAR’s insurance and operations team to stay on top of these standards. That’s a tremendous resource!
We scan every vehicle that comes in the door at my CARSTAR locations so we can have the documented issues in the beginning to understand what underlying issues we may have to address at the end.
We also perform post-repair scans on every vehicle before it leaves our facility to verify it is performing correctly. Some codes are stored without the engine light coming on, and other times you’re alerted to a step in the repair process that needs to be re-evaluated.
If you aren’t staying current on the repair standards and following the recommendations on training, equipment and processes, you’re potentially opening yourself up to liability in the future.
Top Repair Professionals
We all know how hard it is to find trained and committed technicians. Investing in training is one way to attract and retain top talent. Today, your technicians need to be as well-versed in technology as they are in standard repair procedures.
Our DFR (disassembly-for-repair) technician handles all of the pre- and post-repair scans for our three facilities. If there is an issue, it is referred to me or one of our A technicians to address and resolve.
We make sure our technicians and estimators are I-CAR Gold, and also work on key OEM certifications and vendor training programs. Through CARSTAR University, the team has access to ongoing training programs that are valuable. We commit time each week to participating in team training to stay up to date.
The Right Equipment
There are several different tools available to perform pre- and post-repair scans. It’s an important investment, so it pays to do your homework.
As our repair volume has grown and we’re seeing a wider range of vehicles, we need more access to the repair data from the OEMs.
Going forward, we’re looking at several other options that provide more robust capabilities. The need for pre- and post-repair scanning is only going to increase, so we’re planning to expand our resources accordingly.
With many advanced technology safety systems, recalibration is needed after the repair to ensure systems are performing correctly. We handle recalibrations like window motors, cameras and other minor recalibrations internally.
For larger projects, we take the vehicle to our mechanic or dealer. This can add time to the length of rental, but we feel it is important in ensuring the safety of the repaired vehicle. In the future, we look forward to seeing more efficient, flexible solutions for calibration.
Making the Investment
Just like you plan for investing in new equipment, an additional location or other expanded services, it’s critical to have a financial path toward keeping up with quality repair standards. You have to look at elevating your business to handle these advanced repairs as an investment in your company’s future.
We make monthly contributions to our long-term fund for team member training, new equipment, certifications and other facility improvements. This allows us to reduce the short-term impact on the business and have the resources to invest in these items when they’re needed.
Keeping up with quality is a challenging task and requires you and your team to work hard on continual improvement. But that hard work pays off with your ability to deliver the highest-quality repairs and ensure your customers are back on the road in a safe vehicle.
Tom Martin is the owner of three CARSTAR locations in Ohio – CARSTAR Sidney, CARSTAR Troy and CARSTAR Piqua. He started working in a collision repair shop at 15, then went on to purchase the business. He joined CARSTAR in 2003 with his first location. He opened his second CARSTAR location in 2014 and a third in 2019. He has long been a champion of advanced technology and also training for his team. He also donates his time to a variety of volunteer organizations, veterans in need, the homeless and youth sports. He can be reached at [email protected].