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U.K.’s Thatcham: Future Shops will Focus Technology on Customers

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June 27, 2016—During U.K.-based Thatcham Research’s “Repair Focus” conference, discussions focused on the several challenges that collision repair shops will face in the coming years. One key solution, according to Thatcham, will be using technology to enhance the customer experience.

More than 450 influencers and experts from around the industry were in attendance at the U.K. event, bringing a lively panel debate recognizing challenges facing the collision repair industry. 

There was a broad agreement that industry consolidation would continue to advance, according to Thatcham. In addition, it was agreed that body shops would be wise to provide additional services to customers, such as recalibrating safety systems and more cosmetic repairs in order to reduce cycle time. 

Another takeaway: Future shops need to recruit from a wide range of skill sets to be able to repair all vehicle systems, and leaders will need to focus on nurturing and developing these people to produce future managers and leaders.

“Supporting young talent to enter this industry is imperative. However, if you cannot then offer leadership and direction, then despite investing sums of money into an apprentices’ development, they will not stay in your business. It has been proven time and time again that mentor training and management training are critical.” Dean Lander, head of operations at Thatcham Research, said. 

Ultimately, body shops should learn to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology to ensure a competitive advantage in the future. 

“It’s clear that there’s now a greater understanding of the trajectory for the industry and an increasingly urgent need for investment in people, knowledge, skills and equipment to strengthen and future-proof the repair sector,” Thatcham Research chief executive Peter Shaw said. "The industry needs to shift from analogue to digital to reflect manufacturer and customer expectations and for those who can do so the future is very exciting."

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