By John Shoemaker
There has been a wave of change coming over the collision industry the last several years and it looks like the tides are finally turning in favor of the repairer and consumer. This wave of change toward original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certifications is one of the most positive changes the collision industry has gone through in recent history.
Some will argue when OEM certification actually started, but we can all agree it is present today and will only become more prevalent in the future.
I see some shops stepping up to the plate and achieving certification through an individual OEM or a third party like Assured Performance, while others are finding OEM repair procedures through ALLDATA Collision or the technical knowledge portal on the I-CAR website. Unfortunately, there are still others that are standing back and hoping that this wave of change doesn’t cause the tide to wipe out their sandcastle.
I see OEM certification as a necessity to repair vehicles correctly and I also see OEMs looking for ways to direct customers to certified shops. There are already vehicle communication systems that acknowledge when you are in an accident and offer to call for assistance. So it is safe to say that the next logical step is to contact a certified shop for you.
OEM certification is not easy to get and not all shops will qualify, which is why some are worried that the tide will wipe out their sandcastles. There is vehicle specific training required, special tools, as well as controlled shop layouts and repair areas. I believe those that work towards OEM certification will find it is worth the expense and having it will put them ahead of their competition. A certified shop will be able to recoup their investment through OEM referrals, more control over the repair process and increased labor rates justified by certified repairs.
So how does shop certification affect insurance companies? I say it takes them out of the driver’s seat and puts the shop in control of the repair, which is how it should have been all along.
The increasing number of shops becoming OEM certified and the availability of OEM position statements like those found on oem1stop.com allows the shop to become the authority on vehicle repair. As growth toward OEM certification continues, the insurance company scorecard will become less important. There will be more emphasis on the method of repair and OEM compliance than severity and alternative parts usage.
This regained authority cannot be taken lightly; the insurance companies will be looking for ways to obtain control again, so any misuse will give them leverage to challenge the shop. Achieving and maintaining OEM certifications will be the key to sustainability.
I look forward to seeing our industry change with certified shops taking the lead and believe most see it as a welcome transformation. Yes, there will still be “those shops” that will repair a vehicle as they have the last 20 years, but hopefully they too will step up as certified shops become more commonplace. So now the choice is yours, the industry is yours, do you become certified, or will you sit back and watch while the wave of change continues.
John P. Kotter states in his book Leading Change; “The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades.” I think that observation fits the collision industry perfectly right now.