News: I-CAR Opens Online Nominations for Industry Awards
By Joel Gausten
Several issues often keep independent shop owners up at night, but staying on top of evolving scanning, diagnostic and ADAS calibration technologies doesn’t have to be one of them.
As more independent collision repair facilities implement in-house diagnostic and calibration services, many acknowledge that it’s okay not to know everything – and that it’s not always possible to do it all on your own. The most experienced and successful shops sometimes have trouble tracking down the latest OEM diagnostic and ADAS calibration information and procedures. Even when they do, they may struggle to properly utilize this information due to the level of tools and expertise available within their four walls. It’s not a stretch to suggest that a typical auto body facility doesn’t have the individual in-house brand specialists needed to address every type of vehicle that could land in its bays. Thankfully, AirPro Diagnostics has the expertise and systems in place to provide shops with genuine solutions to this dilemma.
With well over 100 dealer-trained brand specialists across North America, AirPro Diagnostics delivers vehicle-specific services thanks to an extensive skills-based routing system. Designed to give AirPro customers the peace of mind that comes from utilizing the skills of a trusted diagnostics/calibration expert, the system automatically connects a customer shop with a technician who is experienced with that particular vehicle make and model. As an example, if a customer contacts AirPro with an ADAS-related need for a Toyota, the system routes that request to a Toyota brand specialist who then services that vehicle.
“Perhaps just as important as having the right AirPro diagnostic tech assigned to each and every service we provide, our system also allows for multiple AirPro techs to log in to one vehicle, via the tool, at the same time,” AirPro Executive Vice President of Operations Josh McFarlin explains. “This means that if the initial tech needs assistance, a brand lead can log in to assist that technician and help diagnose the vehicle and get the customer taken care of.”
Naturally, this provides a much-needed alternative for an overwhelmed shop owner/manager who would otherwise put scanning, diagnostics and ADAS calibrations in the hands of an employee who may not have access to the most up-to-date service information, diagnostic software and technical training.
“At AirPro Diagnostics, we take response time very seriously, and we have gone so far as committing to our 10 minute response pledge with every customer,” McFarlin says. “If an AirPro customer hits the ‘request service’ button, we’re going to be on that tool within 10 minutes.”
The current average response time for AirPro service requests is well under two minutes. On rare occasions when a request hits the seven-minute mark, it will appear on the top of all brand specialists’ priority lists ─ regardless of their specific area of expertise. In the interest of time, an available technician can start servicing that request and then hand it off to another brand specialist if necessary.
In addition to its prompt response to requests, AirPro Diagnostics provides services based on information and procedures that come straight from the manufacturers. This means a great deal to dealership veteran and Jacksonville, Florida-based AirPro Brand Specialist Jeanie Sanchez.
“Our access to the OEM software is the best thing we offer our customers. It provides them security. They’re not concerned; they don’t feel they have to second-guess us or feel they have to take the vehicle to a dealer. I have the same tools I would use at the dealership here.”
Sanchez, who has been with AirPro for nearly two years, joined the company after working at MINI and Mazda dealerships. Although she had performed the occasional windshield calibration at the MINI dealer, her experience with ADAS-related work has grown exponentially under the AirPro umbrella.
“I focus primarily on BMWs and other European brands.”
In addition to her dominant focus on BMW, Sanchez regularly services MINI, Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche vehicles for AirPro customers. This level of volume means greater familiarity with common issues associated with particular brands. As a result, Sanchez and other AirPro brand specialists have already seen and solved issues on multiple occasions that would typically hinder a shop that wasn’t as well versed in identifying and addressing those problems.
“I recently helped a customer who had an issue with a module that goes out all the time,” she recalls. “He was frustrated with himself, because he thought he had done something wrong. I was able to look up the open campaign for that issue and explain to him that the vehicle was still covered under that bulletin. It wasn’t his fault that the component failed; it had nothing to do with anything he did. That gave him a lot of relief.”
According to McFarlin, AirPro’s brand specialist base is generally comprised of either technicians with decades of experience who are looking to explore less physically demanding work or newer technicians in the five-to-seven-year experience range who are looking for alternatives to in-house work at a repair facility.
“Both groups are fantastic. The ones with a little less experience have generally spent more time around diagnostic tools and more time on the computer side of things, while the ones who have more experience just have more experience.”
New AirPro recruits shadow an existing AirPro tech for several days before taking on formal training to get familiar with the service process.
By implementing an internal structure based on OEM tools and procedures and efficient customer service, AirPro has built a solid team of brand specialists whose expertise answers two of the biggest questions any shop should ask a remote diagnostics provider: 1. Why should I trust your technicians? and 2. How does your company keep your brand specialists up to date on the same technologies that my facility struggles to follow? Formerly the director of curriculum for I-CAR, McFarlin is a firm believer that automotive education is an ever-evolving endeavor. He views AirPro’s service process as an opportunity for brand specialists to expand their knowledge and application of automotive technologies in real time.
“The industry needs ongoing training, but that training looks different when your job is doing diagnostics on dozens of vehicles every day and getting the opportunity to specialize in those vehicles,” McFarlin observes. “Because our techs are in a handful of brands and use the same tools all day, every day, the training gap isn’t as prevalent. Our brand specialists are probably developing as much – if not more – expertise as anyone else in the automotive industry in terms of diagnostics on current model platforms. AirPro technicians are getting more exposure than anyone else – particularly with current model year vehicles. They see a much higher percentage of them than dealership technicians would see for warranty work. This makes a huge difference.”
Joel Gausten has been covering the national collision repair/automotive service industry since 2000. He can be reached at [email protected].
This article was sponsored by AirPro Diagnostics. For more information, please visit https://airprodiagnostics.com/.