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10 Things Auto Body Shop Technicians Need to Know

( 02/20/2020 ) Written by: Douglas Craig

Vehicles are changing—and so is the repair industry. Not only are new designs and technologies driving change, but recent litigation, in which repairers were held responsible for substandard workmanship, is having an impact. I recently participated in a forum with other industry experts and identified 10 takeaways that will shape the repair process in 2020.

Each year, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) hosts a Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. At the 2019 RDE, we held a panel discussion that included seasoned industry professionals such as Jason Bartanen from Collision Hub; Kelly Logan from Car-O-Liner; and Jake Rodenroth from AsTech. They discussed six key topic areas including: research and repair information gathering, training, product selection (parts, consumables and equipment), repair planning, quality control and relationships.

10 key takeaways that every collision repair technician must consider for each repair in 2020:

  1. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) repair procedures should always be considered the standard. These repair procedures are agreed upon industry-wide as the repair standard.
  2. Third-party repair information could have gaps or be outdated. This means third-party information has limited use, due to the completeness of the content and age, along with appropriateness of shop equipment for the repair.
  3. Every repair must be researched. Despite the fact that manufacturers change their service information constantly—and despite other barriers, such as the time it takes to navigate a given OEM’s information site and the potential for subscription costs--doing a repair the “old way” could lead to disastrous results.
  4. Research P-Pages and SCRS’ DEG website. The procedure pages, or P-pages, of every estimating system are available online and should be carefully read and interpreted to compile the most accurate set of procedures or steps. Also, spend time reviewing SCRS’ database enhancement gateway (DEG) website for detailed interpretations and hints of how the estimating systems calculate. The DEG is a very powerful resource with great information.
  5. Training is crucial for a technician’s and body shop’s success. While it may seem there is never enough time or enough budget to invest in training, OEM information, shop equipment, paint systems, health and safety, and more all require constant updating for the best results.
  6. Training should be constant and ongoing. Off-site, hands on OEM/equipment/paint training, while typically the highest cost, is optimal because of its focused nature. However, in-shop training and even “lunch and learns” (short windows of time in which an expert presents on a single topic) are options.
  7. Types of parts and consumables must be known to plan the repair. Parts, repair equipment and consumables are defined in many ways by each repairer, making product selection cumbersome. There are OEM guidelines related to parts, approved or recommended tools and most recently welding electrodes. Usage guidelines are brought about by repairer decisions or insurer agreements. All these decisions or agreements come into play as to how the vehicle will be repaired and by what method the repair plan will be assembled.
  8. Repair planning should be comprehensive, allowing the shop to fully understand the scope of the repair. A detailed plan reduces, or even eliminates, “grey areas” and approval friction, resulting in clear expectations on schedule, time and costs. Contemporary planning takes the old concept of “estimating” to a new level, because it incorporates all information from the research phase, tear down and measuring, and product selection.
  9. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) outline the process, responsibilities and methods to ensure a quality repair. SOPs are the foundation for quality repairs. Each process step in a repair facility should have a documented SOP that everyone in the shop is trained on and adheres to for overall consistency. Having an SOP is confirmation that best practices are being followed.
  10. Negotiation training is an often-overlooked topic. Relationships are at the core of any business. Like personal relationships, business relationships can be impacted by emotions of the moment, often triggered by stress or miscommunications. Often, all that is needed is self-monitoring and a “reboot” of a given conversation. It is also important to refer to comprehensive repair plans with backup documentation—these can support business relationships by improving clarity.

Times have changed: the “behind the scenes” efforts required to pull off a quality collision repair have moved to a new level. Staying abreast of industry changes—including the 10 takeaways of our industry experts—will keep your shop going strong in 2020 and beyond. We're here to help you and your body shop train, prepare and select the right adhesive for the job. Explore our I-CAR trainings, SOP and "how to" videos and Fusor® collision repair adhesives

Douglas Craig

In his structural adhesive technical service role at LORD, Doug is responsible for providing guidance and repair solutions to repairers, OEMS and insurers which incorporate the proper materials and methods. Doug's previous role, as the Collision Repair Manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobile, was focused on all topics related to collision damageability and repairability.

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