Reader’s Choice 2022
“Where do you see the industry heading as far as OEM training is concerned, especially with all the consolidation going on? Also, what are the biggest challenges in repairing high-tech vehicles? Why are we so underpaid compared to mechanics when we know as much (and sometimes more) than they do? And finally, what is the solution to finding and keeping techs?” — Valentin Rosas, body technician, Faith Quality Auto Body, Murrieta, Calif.
Regarding original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certification, I think collision repairers who get the training are going to be set up for success in the future because, with the tech shortage, they’ll be able make way more money or the insurers will be totaling too many cars.
As far as vehicle technology goes, the biggest problems come when techs don’t know the proper repair procedures because they’ve never fixed one before. Even when they use ALLDATA, they still need to learn as they go. Most people don’t like struggling with something blindly.
To answer your question, “Why are we so underpaid compared to mechanics when we know as much (and sometimes more) than they do,” I believe our industry is caught in a time warp in the present moment but believe we’ll catch up to the mechanical side some day. I feel that vehicles will require so much more training and equipment that a major adjustment is coming. It’s not as simple as shops simply raising their labor rates because, with all of the consolidation going on, we’re somewhat at the mercy of consolidators, as their rates are controlling our industry. It will take a collective effort, and our industry is too fragmented to get together. Plus, we’re bound by law not to collectively discuss labor rates.
The tech shortage is having the biggest impact on the collision repair business today, and my plan is to give employees the opportunity to learn while I pay for the training. But the tech shortage is real, so after we train someone, the trick is to keep him or her — and how to do that is the million-dollar question. I really don’t have a solid answer yet; we’ll have to wait and see.