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The Present and the Future

By 2016 it was becoming clear to progressive repairers that cars were changing rapidly, and correct repairs would require good current equipment, well trained staff and disciplined adherence to correct, vehicle specific repair procedures.

These progressive repairers were making significant investments in equipment and training in order to be able repair vehicles properly then and in the future. This made business life more complicated and less short term profitable, with the expectation that there would be long term survival and profit.

Many others have followed this model, but a significant majority of the repair industry just kept ‘repairing’ cars with few changes from 5 or 10 years before. The cars were going out the door, the insurance company was not being asked to pay for sophisticated repairs and nobody had to think outside of yesterday’s box.

Where is the Repair Industry Now?

In 2021 the progressive repairers are ready for a future of correct repairs. Many other operators are hoping it will not arrive.

Here are a few observations from Canada.

In Saskatchewan SGI wants cars to be repaired better and operators will have to show that they have the right equipment to do the repairs. In January of 2020 they were told they would have to have some key pieces of equipment by March 2021. And if they don’t, they will still be allowed to repair cars for SGI, they just won’t get paid as much.

ICBC in BC has a new collision repair program to encourage operators to become properly equipped and trained. One equipment supplier asked me how often we use our electronic measuring equipment (we have had it for over 12 years and use it many times each week) as he had customers asking him why they would need to buy that equipment just so it could gather dust in the corner. Or the other one telling him that he didn’t need a resistance spot welder (which is the only equipment that can be used to weld light weight high strength steel properly) because his technicians could weld anything they came across now with the equipment they had.

A young estimator was at a job interview in 2019 and asked the operator how they accessed the correct repair procedure was told ‘We don’t do any of that. Cars are easy to fix, and we know how.’

In America, Jeff Peevey, a knowledgeable industry participant talked about being underwater at a presentation in early 2020. His point was that what had been described as a tsunami of change a few years ago was in fact not a tsunami, it was a sea level change, and most repairers are still on the old beach, underwater.

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