Collision repairers assess business, technology to thrive amid shifting industry

Sept. 1, 2022
Labor shortages, supply chain issues and growing vehicle complexity have challenged repairers, but despite these setbacks, technology is improving repair cycle times and the overall customer experience.

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What you will learn:

• More people are buying used vehicles, a result of semiconductor chip delays impacting new vehicle assembly and delivery

• 20 to 60 percent of vehicles on the road today have at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) feature 

• Electronic parts ordering is another advancement that is helping shops keep up with repair demands

The vehicle repair industry is changing  

From repairer and technician shortages, tothe growing complexity of vehicles and EVs, the industry has faced many new challenges over the past two years. Most recently, the purchasing habits of drivers in the U.S. have put added pressure on repair shops. More people are buying used vehicles, a result of semiconductor chip delays impacting new vehicle assembly and delivery.  This is resulting in longer repair times as supply chain shortages impact the availability of parts. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a four percent decline in employment in the overall auto technician field through 2029. New vehicles are also much more complex than they once were — anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of vehicles on the road today have at least one advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) feature. Vehicles require dedicated space and new tools in addition to technical expertise to repair them at a time when there are fewer workers.  

But as new challenges arise, so do new opportunities for innovation.  

Adapting to the disruption with technology 

Technology has a strong role to play in how collision repairers adapt to industry disruptions and the growing complexity of collision repairs. As more cars on the road become equipped with ADAS technology, diagnostic tools are becoming an essential part of the repair process, allowing repairers to identify damage to cameras, sensors, and more. Diagnostic scans have increased nearly 900 percent since 2017, with scans being included on nearly 50 percent of estimates processed through CCC. 

Electronic parts ordering is another advancement that is helping shops keep up with repair demands, giving repairers access to a diverse inventory from a broad range of suppliers. Pre-ordering parts before a vehicle enters the shop has become a common practice given today's parts shortages.  

Cloud-based applications for diagnostics and parts ordering create a more efficient repair experience, allowing technicians to automatically track data from scans and parts orders, while keeping customers digitally informed all from within their existing workflow system.   

Delivering a seamless customer experience in times of high demand 

As demand for more complex repairs grows, and customers' expectations around digital communication have evolved through the COVID era, creating a seamless customer experience is essential to building trust and loyalty. Photo estimating technology, in particular, has improved shops’ ability to speed up cycle time and reach customers sooner than ever. Customers can capture damage photos and video from the scene of an accident for a nearly instantaneous assessment and cost estimate. What used to be a weeks-long process can now take minutes, kicking off a great customer experience.  

Platforms for automated customer communication and digital payments can extend that excellent customer experience end-to-end, with the added benefit of capturing more data within the shop’s digital workflow to track jobs more efficiently. 

The pandemic has forced repair facilities to change the way they do business. Many of these changes will have long lasting positive effects, but there’s more to come. Tools like AI to help power estimates and 3D printers to create parts in-house are some of the latest technologies positioned to enter repair shops within the next few years.  

Now is the time to innovate 

The industry is changing fast and there’s still a lot more change ahead as more advanced vehicles join the market. Now is the time for shops to innovate on tools and processes to help their team succeed. Shops need to assess their potential opportunities and align their business, staffing, and technology to grow while managing the steep expectations consumers have today for customer experience.  

Implementing these technology advancements can help shops keep up with the workload despite a tough labor market. Not only can technology improve workflow efficiency, it can also impact the customer experience and drives loyalty — all worthy investments. With the right technology and investment in continuing education, it’s possible for shops to not merely survive during difficult times but to thrive despite the challenges.

About the Author

Kelly Grossenbaugh

Kelly Grossenbaugh is the founder and director of ELEVATE Services. She has 24 years of experience in the industry, 21 of those with CCC in multiple leadership positions. Grosenbaugh's accomplishments include creating the CCC ONE customer experience and implementation process as well as leading our largest CCC ONE implementation projects to date with specialization in consulting, operations, accounting, and process optimization. Grossenbaugh has contributed multiple articles to CCC’s Industry newsletters. She is passionate about helping businesses reach and exceed their goals, from growing same store sales to expanding the size and footprint of their organizations. Prior to joining CCC, Grossenbaugh worked as an accountant for a large independent repair facility. She has a BBA in accounting with an emphasis in business pre-law from Ohio University.

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