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To Live, Die, or Certify?

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Aug. 26, 2020—In 2013, Matthew and Marcia Seebachan had their entire lives waiting for them—until they received an improper repair of their 2010 Honda Fit. John Eagle Collision Center of Dallas altered their lives as they knew it in an accident.

Marcia had to be pulled from the passenger window of their engulfed vehicle while Matthew suffered fourth degree burns and an unfathomable emotional toll, all due to an oversight during the repair process that cost John Eagle Collision over $31 million

Connor Smith, senior manager of OEM for CARSTAR, began his presentation on OEM certifications for the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association, by telling the Seebachans’s story. 

The presentation, titled “The Importance of OEM Certification” was the last event in CIECA’s summer webinar series. Previous events covered a range of topics from estimation to calibration to the final heavy hitter and today’s topic—certification.

Smith has held various positions across departments with CARSTAR including insurance, analytics, procurement, and operations. His current role at CARSTAR requires him to work closely with vehicle manufacturers and has supplied him with a plethora of knowledge when it comes to OEM-specified certifications. He explained how one misstep could have immeasurable consequences for the customer, and that he says, is why certification is essential. 

ADAPT attended the webinar to bring you the highlights of his presentation and point you to your next step, however big that may be. 

 

  1. Safety is most important. 

Smith echoed the industry by emphasizing the importance of safety procedures for both drivers and technicians. Safety procedures are not limited to taking precautions, he says, they are embedded into the repair process by the original equipment manufacturer for a reason. 

“Using the right repair information, the right equipment, and the right tools,” he says is integral to performing an accurate and safeguarded repair. 

 

  1. Do not rely on experience. 

Vehicles evolve far beyond the yearly models and limited editions. The software and advanced driver assistance systems can be updated at any time by the automaker over-the-air. 

“Even if you did the exact same repair last week, it could be all new procedures this week,” warns Smith. 

As with the Seebachans, accurate and updated repair methods could be the difference between life and death for drivers.  

 

  1. Making the Move 

If you are ruminating on getting your shop OE certified, Smith says your first jump should be a small one. He suggests tracking which brand of vehicles your shop receives the most and investing in model-specific tools of that brand. 

“If you’re already repairing those cars, you should have most of the big ticket items like welders and rivet guns,” he says. “Investing in model-specific tools could elevate your shop to the next level.” 

 

  1. Worth the investment?

The biggest obstacle to OE certification is shaped like a dollar sign. Every scan tool, wrench, and replacement part needed for the repair comes with a price. Furthermore, each of those tools and their accompanying price tags will be upgraded within the next couple of years along with the procedures that necessitate them. 

According to Smith, becoming OE certified is “playing the long game.” OE certification requires a large investment upfront, but he says the upkeep after the fact is minimal. 

In fact, he says the biggest return on investment for OE certification comes from the message it sends to other technicians. “They see how you invest in technology and care about the tools and staying at the cutting edge.”
 

  1. Smith recommends everyone get certified. 

The benefits of OE certification are obvious: latest repair knowledge, access to restricted parts, and the peace of mind to know you are completing the job to the very best of your ability and to the highest standards in the industry. But still, some shops are unable to overcome that Cifrão hurdle. 

“If you can’t do certifications, figure out where you fit,” Smith advises. Whether that means partnering with a local shop you can direct customers to or simply hanging around a shop that already has the certification you want for your own business to pick up hints. 

The industry is constantly changing and OE certification is the latest manifestation of its evolution. 

“It’s worth the investment today, to keep your business tomorrow,” Smith promises. 

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