In 25 Years, Will Now Be the “Best” it’s Been?

by Jordan Hendler

Twenty-five years may be a long time to some and a short time to others, but to me, it’s the exact amount of time I’ve been in the collision industry.

What I want to test against you – our audience – is a thought I’ve been having quite a bit recently; that this may be the best I’ve seen in my history. Really stop and think. 

I know if you go way, way back, you may find even better times. That would have been before the advancement in DRP programs and digital communications, when estimates were hand-written and cars were really straightforward. Conversely, let’s not forget how difficult it was in the recession of 2008, and climbing out of that rut. In the “now” times, I look at how many shops are busy, how many are repairing cars properly and investing in their people and good equipment. It looks to be…well, better.  

Don’t get me wrong; I know we have so much further to go. The tech shortage, the issues with repairer-insurer relationships, vehicle advancements and much more still plague our horizons. Add on the chasm between repairers who are investing in staying current and trained, and those who simply take their day-to-day on the chin. With all that still surging, I still am taking stock right now as it’s a good time to be in the business.

I have to say that the pandemic may have been an unexpected shift we didn’t think was possible. During the pandemic, repairers were still at work; of this we were all grateful. What happened after the shutdown seemed to grow over the course of the next 18 months. At first, there were shops who struggled greatly, and some that had even shut down or sold in haste. Then, there was a shift in how much work was coming in, which then turned more into a flood that today still rolls in. Many repairers were busier than ever, and even still are.

What also happened was a layoff in the insurance adjusting field, like a pandemic within a pandemic. With that, the collective knowledge of adjusters seemed to hit a downward spiral. This is the negative impact of Covid we didn’t anticipate, but should have. For years, insurers have been vying for ways to cut their costs and go remote, and the pandemic was just the cover needed to dump thousands of seasoned people. This is the thing we’ve all focused on since; how to re-instill working knowledge back into relationships so that the mutual customer isn’t left out in the cold. Because getting responses on repair plans and supplements is the biggest complaint I get.

While there is much to be thankful for in this season, there is always more and more to do and keep fighting for. WMABA pushes for the professionalism of the repairer in everything we do. Having repairers be even further recognized as the experts trained, tooled, and safety-minded to re-engineer the vehicle is what we’re all about. 

It is a great thought that someday we are only seen as: professional, capable, and ready.

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