Over the last serval months, perhaps going back as far as a year, every discussion about the challenges and costs of modern vehicle repair ends with a variation of the phrase ‘but of course we need correct repairs ‘ . This is said with a tone that suggests; ‘I have met my obligations because I have mentioned that correct repairs are needed.’ With this phrase and no further investment the speaker imagines or hopes that he has transferred all responsibility to the repairer and is now absolved of all liability or requirement in further investment in that repair.
This phrase is always aimed at the repairer and is always used by anyone who has an opinion on repair procedures and repair cost, but has no hands on responsibility for that real world repair. Insurers really like it and industry commentators, speakers and trainers always close with it.
The beleaguered ‘estimator’ being told to fix the car right is not being paid for looking anything up and in fact will be penalized for doing so.
If the car is fixed that poorly that a serious comeback results then there will be repercussions. However with all metrics centred on severity, cycle time and customer satisfaction an improper repair that gets past the customer will gain higher marks than the correct repair that takes an extra day and costs another $500. There is not a lot of incentive to spend extra time doing something he is not good at if the probable result is lower marks, and a bigger stack of files still on his desk.
With each year the active fleet being repaired gains added complexity and more and more cars requiring research and careful analysis before the repair starts are becoming part of the repair mix. A time will come, not that far in the future where the incorrectly researched repair will fail almost every time. But we are not quite there yet.
Mike Anderson gave a recent presentation about position statements in which he said that even if the manufacturer does not reinforce a procedure in a position statement you still have to follow that procedure.
He is without question correct in this, however he went further by saying that if a repairer does not research the correct procedures it is simply because of laziness. He did not acknowledge that finding relevant OEM information is not a trivial issue, requiring both an investment in purchasing access and then a very real, and more costly, investment in learning how to use the program properly and efficiently. There are many real world obstacles to getting the right information that would need to be overcome before ‘laziness’ became a factor.
Referencing back to a July 10 2018 article about a Collision Hub Repair U video, http://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2018/07/10/we-have-totaled-this-poor-malibu-repair-u-blueprinting-class-reveals-work-necessary-for-minor-collision/\
A part of the discussion was that it took an hour to find the relevant OEM information and ‘more than that to read it and understand it.’ I am going to guess that there were no questions to answer about other files during this time and no significant time pressure to get to the other files waiting. There is no denying that the procedures advocated in the article are the correct procedures, but there is also no denying that it is very difficult to get paid for these procedures. Many people are quite good at getting paid but the majority of repairers do get tired of the fight to get paid. The points made are valid and they do point very clearly to a future that will arrive, but they are not the current reality in most of the collision repair world. In this same article the suggestion of resolving liability issues by working for free can only be described as a bizarre business model.
Repair report writing, repair procedures and the payment structures around these will have to change. For now, for most people, the old ways are still viable and still the standard. Unfortunately the industry is waiting for this change to be mandatory before acting on it. There is only a very spotty and ad hoc process of preparing for the change.
‘Of course it needs to be fixed right’ is not preparation