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Navigating the Future, Today

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May 2, 2022 One of the most pressing issues collision repair shop owners are having to confront is the “technology of the future” showing up in their bays in the present moment. 

As vehicle technology and all that it entails continues to solidify itself as a constant within the industry, shops find themselves presented with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and their customer base, if they are willing to put in the work. 

Michelle Corson, CEO of On the Road Companies, has navigated this at On the Road Garage, a collision repair facility that exists as one of the entities under On the Road Companies. Corson launched On the Road Garage in 2020 with a mission to help others prosper in their everyday lives while keeping an eye on the future. 

“90 percent of the vehicles on the roads today have some ADAS equipment on them, and that won’t go backwards.” Corson says. “We’ll be at 100 percent before too much longer, so it’s really incumbent upon any collision facility to understand how to calibrate those systems and understand what those systems are.” 

The surge in prominence of telematic systems in vehicles today will only continue into tomorrow, and every day thereafter. In order to adequately serve both a customer base and a team of technicians alike, On the Road Garage entered the collision repair market with a technology-forward focus. 

Corson explains that, unlike what some collision repair shops may be facing at this time, On the Road hasn’t experienced any growing pains in relation to new vehicle technology and education because they have chosen to work with it from the beginning. Technology has always been a part of their work flow, and it will always continue to be. 

“This is the wave of the future.” Corson says. “Having the kind of equipment that’s here and having people who know how to do this work be able to perform these calibrations and train others is critical for a shop today and into the future.”

At the core of this strategy is an appreciation for existing and emerging technology. In order to master the art, there must first be a willingness to learn. For On the Road Garage, it’s about approaching that concept head-on, which is something that she thinks all collision repair shops should keep in mind. 

“It has the potential to really impact, in a positive way, -collision shops in the future.” Corson says. “I think that OEMs and their suppliers who build ADAS equipment and other components of a car are going to ultimately add sensors into body parts and structural parts … pieces of the car that don’t currently have sensors on them.”

While this prospect is not set in stone by any means, it alludes to future circumstances that would ultimately involve–what else–more parts. This potential is something that On the Road Garage has kept in mind as well. Corson has actually started working on the concept of doing in-house manufacturing. 

“We’re working on additive manufacturing and advanced technologies around on-time delivery parts ourselves,” Corson says. “And potentially for other shops as well.”

Not only does she credit future opportunities for her interest in this project, but also current supply chain issues. 

“We can’t wait,” she says. “Nobody can.” 

While it is not feasible for most collision repair shops to be involved in their own manufacturing, the takeaway here is ultimately about more than that. It’s about doing what can be done in order to anticipate the inevitable. 

There are a multitude of ways for a shop to do this, but the effort is half the battle. Bringing collision repair into the future is not an easy task, but it can be done with the right initiative. It could start with something as simple as gauging interest from your customer base, or seeking out training opportunities for your staff. 

However it is done, the main goal is to continue adapting because change is not slowing down anytime soon. The industry is on the cusp of what Corson predicts to be even greater shifts in telematic advancements. 

“I think through telematics, and frankly through block chain too, the car will have the ability to report an accident in real time to a designated collision center that can order parts in a much more accurate way than someone looking at photos,” Corson says. “The car can tell you what damage there is. I think that’s going to lead to much greater efficiency and much better parts management and more accurate estimates.”

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