One of my ongoing themes has been the need for change in the culture of the collision repair industry. Culture does not develop overnight, and it certainly does not change overnight. We have had 50 years of a business style that has very much set a culture.
Because there were very few rules set by government regulators it was the insurance companies that became the rule setters. Following these rules was at the core of the repairer business model. The rules focused on cost far more than safety, as cost was tangible, and safety was not so clearly assessed. To be honest the way cars were built for many decades did not change all that much and old methods of repair served well enough. Repairers accepted that the insurance companies made the rules and over the years this turned into industry culture.
Now cars are much different, and we have the manufacturers making rules through their OEM procedures. While mostly good these are sometimes disconnected from on the street reality, and more importantly have been made with minimal or no consultation with insurers, who pay most of the bills. Repairers are used to a culture of following rules, but which rules are they supposed to follow?
Those repairers who have been changing the internal culture of their own businesses are ready to participate in an exciting phase. They have been paying attention, buying needed current equipment and supporting their staff in their training and education.
These repairers have something to offer that both the insurers and OEMs need. That is real world, honest experience and understanding. They can’t (and don’t) guess how to do a repair, but they can (and do) apply the experience of their entire team into getting that repair done properly and at a cost that makes sense.
The signals are out there that the insurers and manufacturers will start to talk to each other. As they move forward with these conversations, they will be looking for intelligent input from progressive repairers.