Meeting and exceeding the standards set in previous years, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ (SCRS) Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series once again featured SEMA 2022’s best training for collision repairers, taught by industry leaders and experts who ensured that attendees left Las Vegas just a little wiser than when they arrived.
Three days packed with 21 educational seminars focused on “providing tangible solutions to real-world problems faced in the shop’s daily operations,” according to SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg.
During “Build Your Next Repair Planner In-House, from Scratch!” Mike Anderson (Collision Advice) tackled the workforce shortage with tips for building internal skill-development programs to help broaden the pool of candidates for consideration.
“If you find the right candidate, how do you get them up to speed very quickly?” he asked. “I’ve always believed in hiring for attitude and training for aptitude.”
Noting that insurers are shifting more administrative work (such as KPI management, ARMS updates, OEM training and certifications) to shops, Anderson explained that collision repair facilities desperately need to grow their teams as the administrative staff in most shops is overloaded. Yet, this presents challenges for many employers who are competing against companies like Amazon that offer competitive compensation, vacation time, health insurance and a slew of benefits.
“We’re never going to attract the best of the best until we can pay a better wage. Something’s got to change,” Anderson warned, stressing that “five to seven years ago, it was about who could get the car…now, it’s about who can attract, train and retain skilled people. A shop’s number one competitive advantage is about getting – and keeping – the best people.”
Urging attendees to cross-train employees and to develop career pathing, he stressed, “When they just get thrown into it, the chances of success for someone in our industry are much lower. It’s not just about WHAT we do but WHY we do it. If we give our employee a lightbulb moment and help them understand the WHY, they’ll retain that knowledge.”
Demonstrating that he practices what he preaches, Anderson returned to the RDE stage with Danny Gredinberg (Database Enhancement Gateway) to help repairers understand the why in “Bulletproof Negotiation Tactics – Newly Revised!”
Negotiations occur when two or more parties disagree on a specific issue, Anderson explained, acknowledging that while those parties often shake hands on the outside, they’re actually ready to fight.
“But the fight doesn’t work,” he emphasized, indicating that negotiation isn’t about giving in, either. “Realize that the
situation is your adversary, not the person. You need to present your evidence and tell your story. If you want to get reimbursed, you have to build a foundation of trust. Now, shops will often claim, ‘That takes too long,’ but isn’t that easier than going back and forth five times? Sometimes, the long way is the short way. Can I get an Amen?!”
Gredinberg agreed that shops have to “use those photos and line notes. You’ve got to be able to tell your story. This is your evidence package.”
The dynamic duo shared three rules to negotiations: 1. Your opinion doesn’t mean jack. 2. Don’t take the bait. 3. Stick to the facts.
They also urged repairers to ask themselves the following questions while negotiating: Is it required to restore the vehicle back to pre-accident condition? Is it included in any other labor operation, or is it a separate operation? Is there a predetermined time in the database, and if not, what is it worth?
At the end of the day, “we as repairers don’t want to get paid anything more or less than we deserve,” Gredinberg said. “We just want to get paid for what we do.”
Getting paid for work performed is right up there with return on investment, and a perceived lack thereof often prevents shops from seeing the value in OEM certification. Exploring how to “Make OEM Network Tools Valuable to My Collision Repair Center” was the goal of a panel consisting of Tony Young (International Technical Automotive Systems), Frank Phillips (Rivian Automotive) and Kelly Logan (Rivian Automotive), which was moderated by Brandon Laur (CCi Global Technologies).
“We really want strong relationships and a partnership with our shops,” according to Phillips who looks to build Rivian’s network with shops that “are willing and able and excited about participating in all facets of training.”
“It used to be easy to fix cars, but it’s not anymore,” Logan observed, acknowledging that certification requires “a big investment and a big commitment. It’s important that the shop gets a return on their investment. We also want to make sure we take care of our customers, and with the complexity of everything we’re involved in, it’s great that Rivian is able to reach out and connect with the customer to educate them.”
“The best customer journey is delivered by the body shop,” Young agreed, explaining the difference between commercial (tools and equipment) versus technical (training and personnel) certification requirements as he stressed, “You have to be able to interpret and apply it, and it’s the combination of those two things that gets you a safe and proper repair.”
Performing safe and proper repairs are important to shops for a multitude of reasons, and “Protecting Your Business Against Liability Exposure from Evolving Technology” is absolutely one of those reasons. SPARK Underwriters’ David Willett and Shaughn Kennedy were joined by shop owners Tracy Lewis (Richie’s Collision Center; Hattiesburg, MS) and Jason Mundy (Mundy’s Collision Center; Lawrenceville, GA) in a discussion about some best practices that collision repair facilities can implement to mitigate risk during the repair process.
Lewis and Mundy cited some of their top liability concerns related to electric vehicles, OEM procedures, photo estimating and throughput. They expressed particular fears related to subletting ADAS calibrations since the liability of any malfunction during a future collision always falls on the shop – not the sublet vendor.
“You don’t know whether or not they’re doing the job right,” Lewis noted. “You’re putting your customers back in that car and telling them, ‘We’ve signed off on this. Everything’s good. You’re safe now.’”
That’s the main reason that Mundy decided to bring calibrations in-house. “If you’re subletting something out and you don’t know the procedure, shame on you because you get that vehicle back and you don’t ask the dealer or a mobile guy, ‘Did you do these procedures?’ Then they probably didn’t do them.”
Willett recommended ensuring that vendors’ insurance coverage is up-to-date. “Just because they have insurance doesn’t mean they have it at all times,” he said. “Their insurance can run out or it can get canceled at times or lowered, or changed or altered. And so it may sound ridiculous but this is something that your insurance provider should be very knowledgeable about and be able to help you administer a certificate tracking to make sure that you do have a backstop to put it through.”
If you missed these sessions live, SCRS will be releasing RDE virtually for purchase, typically available by the end of the calendar year. For further information or to purchase these sessions, visit rde.scrs.com.
Want more? Check out the December issue of Hammer & Dolly!