We’re Just Fixing Cars, Right?

by Ken Miller, AASP/NJ President

Many of you may not know me well yet, and consequently, my background may be unfamiliar. I’ve been part of the automotive industry for over 25 years, involved in various capacities.

Before and during that time, I delved into businesses ranging from woodworking to paintless dent repair and even managed a franchise in the food industry. Unlike many shop owners, I wasn’t born into the auto body industry, and this provides me with a unique perspective that diverges from conventional thoughts and paradigms. 

That brings me to my point: In discussions with shop owners, it often appears that our industry heavily emphasizes the business aspects of running a profitable shop and takes the repair process for granted. While topics like cycle time, KPIs and severity dominate our conversations, I believe we are missing the mark. The goal in any repair – and subsequently, the most important thing – is to do what we have been entrusted to do. That is to return our customers’ vehicles to pre-loss condition in terms of appearance, function, value and safety to the best of reasonable human ability. 

Most customers don’t know what a complete, safe and correct repair entails; they are relying on our expertise for that. Despite the challenges repairers face – whether it’s the complexity of repairs, extensive research required, specialized tools, advanced training or receiving fair compensation – we cannot deviate from our mission. None of these challenges exempt us from the responsibility of returning the car to its pre-loss condition.

I intentionally use the term “pre-loss condition” instead of “fixing” because there’s a distinct difference. Our focus as repair professionals should be to execute repairs that are virtually undetectable (within vehicle manufacturer mandates), thus minimizing any decrease in the vehicle’s value and ensuring all systems are meticulously restored and functioning as designed. The safety of our customers depends on our commitment to complete, safe and correct repairs. 

I’d like to sum this up by saying, “As an industry, we need to do more than just fix cars; we need to make sure we are fixing cars RIGHT!”

Want more? Check out the February 2024 issue of New Jersey Automotive!