A sound game plan for OE repairs is critical.
The traditional trends of collision repairs are shifting. With greater vehicle complexity and more and more OEMs influencing the actual collision repair process, it is becoming essential to obtain OEM certifications.
With Budds’ Collision Services being a facility that has an array of different certification programs, we are well aware of the investment needed not only in initially obtaining these certifications but also to keep them.
I am constantly asked what our initial investment was to obtain our certifications. However, this really is a loaded question. We have been repairing vehicles that incorporate “advanced” materials such as aluminum, carbon fibre, high strength steels for many years.
In fact, our shop was the first repair facility in Canada to install a dedicated aluminum repair department. We have over a million dollars invested in that department—allowing us to accommodate such repairs.
To build a “brownfield” collision repair facility, an initial investment to acquire a number of certifications would be monumental. Also, it would require a huge amount of administrative and labour intensive effort.
This can be done in time, however. My advice is to do your research. Decide on what certification programs you would like to gain immediately. This can be done by your shop’s current work or on work you would like to do.
Also, it can be orchestrated via your current relationships with sponsoring dealers. Once you decide on what certification you would like to get first, make a game plan for the certifications you would like to obtain in the near future.
Specific approved tooling and equipment is the largest investment when it comes to certification.
As for tooling and equipment, there are some consistencies regarding the various certification programs.
Simply by purchasing equipment that is a prerequisite for multiple programs would drastically reduce your costs.
Typically, an OEM would provide an applicant shop with a list of approved tools. By purchasing right, this would give you a head start on your next certification without breaking the bank. Currently, we are in the middle of “audit season.” All of the OEM programs audit their shops annually to ensure we are up to date with training, that we have purchased all necessary tooling and equipment, and that we have made the continual investment into our facility.
This season magnifies how many programs require the same types and brands of tools that can be “piggy backed” onto multiple certification programs. You need to construct a thorough game plan and carefully consider your purchases when it comes to tools and equipment. By doing so, not only will you be able to stay ahead of the game but you’re also investing in the future—not only the future of your own business but also that of your customers, OEM partners and other industry stakeholders. At the end of the day, our business is about people and providing our customers with a safe, reliable and correctly repaired vehicle.