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Dealing with Collision Repair Competition

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Collision repair competition is fierce, and increasingly so these past couple years. The battle for business rages, and repair quality suffers. Is it because insurers want us to work for cheap?

Many things are squeezing the business today: overcapacity among repairers, fewer automobile collision claims, the slump of new car sales the past few years.

The new face of competition, though, is technical. New car sales are slowly increasing, and that’s bringing new technologies into our shops. Those repairs require more expertise and place more demands on repairers. “Required” is the new “cheap.”

Those requirements increasingly come from vehicle manufacturers. Over the past decade, they’ve become more interested and involved in collision repair. That’s because they’ve realized collision repair has a direct tie to customer retention—that is, to keeping their own customers, one car purchase after another.

During the past year, manufacturers have issued more bulletins with more specifics about the design, installation, performance and other attributes of parts installed on customer vehicles. That strong awareness of quality replacement parts, especially in the structural repair sector, will assist the collision repair industry and its efforts to create standards for proper, quality repairs.

Technical knowledge coupled with efficiency will determine who remains in the collision repair industry. This doesn’t make things any easier in the business today, but it’s likely to lead us to a better collision industry tomorrow—and hopefully to return us to the ideal of doing a quality repair at a reasonable price at a reasonable profit margin.

Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.

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