Having been involved in the industry since 1985, Mike Anderson of Collision Advice says he views good opportunities for collision repairers.
Mike Anderson isn’t taking an alarmist approach. “Yes, all manufacturers are now producing vehicles with systems designed to reduce the number of collisions and their severity,” he says. On the other hand, he is clear to state that fully autonomous vehicles are still a long way off, meaning millions of driver operated vehicles will continue to ply the highways and byways for some time to come.
Anderson does note, however, that many collision shops still need to get up to speed when it comes to understanding the latest automotive technology. He also stresses that shops need to understand how to handle their customers. “Ensuring that all repairs are done properly is a must,” he says. But the shop must also be able to establish a level of trust with the customer, allowing the business to be able to take the keys and repair the vehicle under often very stressful circumstances.
“In the collision repair market, where the relationship with the insurer and by extension, the customer, is decisive, too often the more human component gets neglected,” says Anderson.
Anderson notes that there’s nothing a modern collision repair facility can’t fix on any car that comes to its doorstep. “It takes a lot of training, a lot more in-depth knowledge of computers and the necessary tools,” says Anderson, “But the shop’s staff can have access to the information they need to repair the vehicle.”
If Anderson is adamant on any particular aspect of the repair process it’s the fact that he’s long been a strong advocate of pre and postrepair electronic analysis as demanded by an increasing number of OEMs. “Vehicle manufacturers want to ensure the quality of repairs, and this trend is only going to increase.” He says it’s up to shop management to find and coach those with the required IT skills to ensure scanning work is performed and performed correctly.”
Anderson notes that the proliferation of crash avoidance systems and driver aids will not only impact the frequency of vehicle collisions, but also their gravity. “Yes, we can consider a reduction in the number of collisions; it’s a fact,” he says. “But the reduction of impact force will have the positive effect of decreasing the number of cars declared total losses, which in turn will mean more repairs for collision shops. “
Anderson notes that the greater use of new materials, such as aluminum, high strength steel and carbon fibre, when combined with the complex and fragile systems found in modern cars, will also increase repair costs. “Considering that injuries will be scarcer and lighter, insurers must adjust their premiums accordingly,” he says.
On the whole, Anderson is optimistic about the future of the collision repair industry. “Everything is in place to help us continue to improve,” he says. “I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time for our industry.”