Future Leaders of the Industry

Is training a cost you can afford not to make?

The growth of forming or becoming part of a network leaves a question for small independent repairers looking to secure their future.

The growth of interest in forming or becoming part of a network, whether it is an MSO, franchise or repairer group, leaves a tantalising question for small independent repairers looking to secure their future within the ever-evolving repair industry.

There are many who will argue that there is no need to train, or that they have no time to train.

For the independent smaller repairer, there is a strong bond with their clientele that has been built up over years of doing business and providing quality service and repairs. The big challenge in this area is to continue to provide quality repairs that are complete and safe as technology evolves.

There is a growing requirement by all insurers to follow OEM procedures and what is now becoming prevalent is the impact of ADAS on complete repairs. There seems to be an ongoing negative attitude to training as a burden on a business and while the management or owners of a business believe there is no benefit, then there will be no investment in training now or into the future. It is only when something goes wrong that training may be considered. But what will that have already cost?

The loyal customer may not be overjoyed that the vehicle they have purchased based on its looks, the colour and most importantly the safety features provided is not working as it was designed to. Many businesses have their refinishers trained regularly to ensure maximum productivity within the refinish section which is admirable. Admittedly the finish of the vehicle is the first thing a customer notices, but let’s be real, nobody was ever seriously injured by a shiny paint job!

However, improper repairs, such as uncalibrated ADAS systems and unscanned pre and post-repair checks are a greater concern. These are the things an owner does not see, and some repairers still believe that certain materials can be heated, sectioned or repaired regardless of how advanced it is. The fact remains that incorrect repair methods on advanced materials compromise the design of vehicle structures. Once a structure is compromised then the safety features built into the vehicle also become compromised.

Timing of Supplemental Restraint Systems (SRS) may be affected, misalignment of structures, however small, affect radars and cameras when they are travelling at speed. Imagine travelling at 100km/h down the highway and camera and radars have not been calibrated and an incident occurs whereby the traffic stops dramatically. There is a potential that the ADAS system will not recognise the incident outside of its sensing parameters and the vehicle will slow down later and as a result, become involved in the incident and causing more damage to the vehicle, a late deployment of SRS and potential injury to the occupants. 

Worst case scenario, yes! However, there comes a time where, as an industry, we recognise that this is why OEMs are building vehicles with technology to ensure damage is minimised and most importantly that occupants are protected in motor vehicle incidents, regardless of the size of the incident.

So, what affect does this have on a repairer involved in this situation? This can vary depending on the significance of the incident to the occupants. The concerning thing is that minor repairs can have larger more significant outcomes if repairs are not performed correctly. There could be large financial ramifications ($40,000,000 in the US for one such outcome) or if there are only smaller problems it means reworking the repair. 

What is the cost of rework within your business? Does it affect cycle times and other customers vehicles? More importantly, having to deal with an unsatisfied customer who was once-upon-a-time an advocate for your business. In the future, will they still be advocates for your business?

Back to the question of ‘is training a cost you can afford?’ 

Playing the percentages in collision repair and hoping that your repairs are complete, safe and of quality, needs to be understood. The need to invest in you or your technicians, regardless of the experience within the industry, is going to be a part of doing business into the future. The technology will continue to evolve and challenge the way repairs are to be done. 

There is a significant attitude in this industry that the way repairs have always been done is still correct or that many repairers believe they are doing the repairs correctly based on their ‘experience’. But new materials challenge old concepts as they are highly advanced in their making and as a result there may be limitations in the correct methodology, that may be completely opposite to a technician or estimators understanding. 

The line between complete and incomplete repairs is becoming more pronounced except in the minds of untrained technicians. It’s not like eating a meat pie today as compared to eating one ten years ago, pies haven’t changed. A modern vehicle however has changed significantly at every level, so if you believe that training is unnecessary in repairing modern vehicles, and your repair is found to be a resulting factor in an incident, that may be a cost you cannot afford.

With training and technology in mind, the Collision Repair Expo is happening again from 11-13 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

There will of course be a huge selection of equipment to browse through, as well as many demonstrations to assist the industry to further improve processes, productivity and of course quality. It is astonishing to see the level of sophistication in everything from paint to technology, measuring through to welding machines.

Sometimes the shiniest of machines, or the latest of equipment, may not provide your business with the biggest return, invest in your people and the value will be there.

I-CAR will have our amazing team at the expo during the three days to answer any questions you may have on our training courses and the addition of a virtual welding machine for visitors to try their welding skills on.  We will also have two guests from I-CAR (USA) with us for the three days and they will also be presenting and detailing what to look for when static ADAS calibration fails. 

We look forward to seeing you all at the Collision Repair Expo 2024 and please drop by stand AA24 to see what’s new at I-CAR Australia.

For more information on I-CAR or to see their full training schedule go to i-car.com.au

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