Is it Just “Chicken Little,” or IS the Sky Falling?

by Jordan Hendler

It takes a lot of discernment by repairers to know whether something is posing as an agent of chaos, or really is a warning to heed.

Our media – just like the mainstream media – has a lot of stories shouting out for attention to issues presented by ADAS, tech shortages, repair procedures, education, and more. But, are they really emergencies? Would your team be able to know the difference?

Discernment is earned through wisdom (even if it’s borrowed wisdom!), knowledge and experience. After 25 years in this industry, I feel as though I still spend each day learning new things about collision repair and the subtle dynamics of our industry. Just like the game of golf, you can never wipe your hands and say, “I think I’ve got it all now!” We can never stop being a student.

With that said, I can stand firmly and say: Chicken Little ain’t lyin’. Our media isn’t even shouting what they know from our industry experts as loud as they should be. I’ve been hearing the phrase “tsunami of technology” for years, but the water is up to the eyeballs. Just short of flying through the air, today’s vehicles rival anything we saw on The Jetsons. And it does take rocket science-like equipment, education and documentation for procedures to fix them the right way.

The Right Way.
Just what does “the right way” look like today? There is a chasm I’ve seen for decades; growing ever larger between shops’ business models. One side is standing on fixing the car properly and to the procedures every time – regardless of the cost – and the other side is getting cars through the shop any way possible without upsetting the customer or the insurance company. It’s two different visions with two divergent paths, and it’s creating a divide in our industry we are unable to bridge.

The problem is becoming further magnified by the two being in conflict when it comes to insurance pay or customer pay issues. The insurers are certainly using this conflict to their advantage, pitting shops against each other and even – as I’ve seen and you’ve seen – telling half-truths or flat out lies where they tell you or your customers no one else charges “that.” It’s disgusting, and it should be a high crime. It’s certainly market manipulation at the very minimum, and tortious interference in many cases. How this has been allowed to transpire is heartbreaking.

When we don’t stand on our truths, we make some things harder for ourselves than they need to be.

What Can We Do?
Philosophy – with a mission and vision – governs in a repair facility. The lack of vision or a mission leaves each man or woman to govern themselves by their own discernment based on their own set of wisdom, knowledge and experience. With a lack of established vision, you could have as many opinions about your company’s vision as there are employees to invent one. That is, unless you plan, execute, and manage the operation with a vision that is plain, simple and understood by all.

Here’s an idea of a vision statement any repairer could use:

• To be a trusted and honest professional repair facility, repairing vehicles safely while providing extraordinary customer service.

Every decision about what’s best for the company, customer or vehicle could be tested against a statement like this. It takes the guesswork out of right and wrong for every member of the team.

My dream for our industry is a lot like our mechanical friends: fix the car, by the book; get paid a good rate; pay employees well; and sleep at night!



Want more? Check out the July 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!