FenderBender 20th Anniversary Series: Aaron Schulenburg
Aaron Schulenburg began his career at a small paint and auto body shop in Arizona. After finding his niche in the estimating world, he worked for a number of different shops, surrounded himself with inspiring mentors and eventually became very involved in the collision industry at the national level.
Now serving as the executive director with the Society of Collision Repair Specialist (SCRS), Schulenburg is known by many for serving as a innovative and upbeat leader within the collision industry. As he approaches his 10-year anniversary with the SCRS, he continues to provide valuable insight and offer support to those in the collision industry.
HOW DOES THE INDUSTRY TODAY COMPARE TO WHAT IT WAS LIKE 20 YEARS AGO?
The industry has done quite a bit of maturing over the past 20 years. Thinking about this question both in relation to the work that I do with the SCRS and to the industry overall, the way that we communicate with one another has come so far.
Today, everything is different from 20 years ago, but everything is also easier because of the different communication channels that exist. Through social media, email and many other platforms, all processes within a shop and between stakeholders are much more efficient than they have been in the past.
Whether it’s direct activity from one collision repair center to another or it’s interaction between associations like the SCRS to its affiliates, ease of communication is helping move the industry forward.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST GAME CHANGER OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS?
The single biggest game changer over the past two decades has been all of the emerging technology. Not only has the technology within vehicles increased in complexity, but what we expect of our technicians today is so much more than it ever has been.
Though increased technology has created some challenges with a growing gap in our workforce, I believe it also provides a lot of opportunity. For one, I believe the technological aspect of the industry better appeals to a younger generation. The generation that’s now entering the workforce grew up on video games and computers, and many of them want technology to play a significant role in their job.
Technology also provides shops with an opportunity to differentiate themselves. There are so many collision centers that want to talk about being a “quality shop,” but what does that really mean? For many, the shops that are embracing new technology and adapting as vehicle complexity grows are considered to be of the highest quality.
WHAT DO SHOPS NEED TO DO TO BE SUCCESSFUL OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS?
In order to be successful over the next 20 years, shops need to be prepared to learn continuously and learn often. This sounds so cliché, but it’s the reality.
The future is going to require shops to analyze everything about their business. They’ll need to look at the people within their business decide what positions can be added or subtracted. They’ll need to analyze what their relationship looks like with consumers and how they can change it.
Many shops have had to examine their business questions like, “Do I or don’t I follow the right procedures?” in the past. Moving into the future, they’ll also need to ask themselves “Do I or don’t I have the right equipment, tools and people?” Those who make the right investments will be successful going into the future.