ABN: Is there an optimum number of shops you want to have and if so, how close are you to reaching that number?
American Honda: Based on our calculations and the number of Honda and Acura units in operation, our ideal number is 1,200 to 1,250. We have been at that number for several months. We are still adding a few here and there but their placement is very strategic. Mostly, when shops call or email us and want to get on the program we ask where they are and if they are Gold Class or a VeriFacts shop or not. If they are Gold Class or VeriFacts but we don’t need a shop where they are located, we will likely put them on a waiting list.
ABN: Have you had any shops drop out and if so, why?
American Honda: Yes, a few have dropped out. Some left because of a management change or ownership change. Some left because they joined the program for the wrong reason, thinking ProFirst was a DRP program. And some just could not or would not maintain their Gold Class status.
ABN: Does Honda provide their certified shops with any brand-specific training?
American Honda: As stated above, Honda provides six one-hour, on-line classes administered through I-CAR. More are planned for a later date. The current classes include:
- *HON10e – Honda and Acura Service Information
- *HON11e – Honda and Acura High Strength Steel Repair
- *HON12e – Honda and Acura Restraints Collision Repair
- *HON14e – Honda and Acura Electrical Collision Repair
- *HON15e – Honda and Acura A/C Collision Repair
- *HON16e – Honda and Acura TPMS Collision Repair
ABN: Does Honda provide shops with any marketing or promotional materials?
American Honda: Yes as stated above. And we will soon be introducing promotional videos that shops can have custom made with their own shop name, logo, and message to be run on their web sites or social media sites.
ABN: Does Honda have a field staff dedicated to this program? If so, what is their focus?
American Honda: We have ten field personnel spread across the US. Their main focus is to on-board new shops, provide support to existing shops, and provide administrative support for Honda’s national office.
ABN: Does Honda provide a magazine or other printed materials for their certified shops?
American Honda: We provide ProFirst Quarterly magazine, containing technical articles as well as profiles on ProFirst shops and other helpful information.
ABN: What has been the biggest challenge in establishing the network?
American Honda: When we first got started, shops considered the “certified shop” concept to be the domain of the more exotic European marques like Jaguar, Mercedes or BMW. They didn’t see Honda and Acura as being “exotic enough” or using exotic substrates to a point that warranted a shop certification program. Eventually they saw which way the wind was blowing across the collision industry landscape, and jumped on board.
ABN: What has been the biggest challenge in maintaining the network?
American Honda: We notify the shop 90 days in front of their expiration date. Under normal circumstance, and if all goes well, this should give them plenty of time to do what is necessary to complete the recertification process. However, some shops fail to pay in a timely manner or have lost their Gold Class status or failed to keep up with their Honda-specific training. Many times when this happens, and the shop cannot rectify the situation in time, the shop expires and is removed from the program.
ABN: Do you have a website where consumers can find your certified shops?
American Honda: Yes, as mentioned earlier, our Shop Locator is on American Honda’s parts and service consumer web site (owners.honda.com/parts-service/), and American Honda’s collision web site (collision.honda.com) These web sites also serve as a platform to help educate consumers on the importance of proper vehicle repair performed by qualified technicians.
ABN: What do you see for the future of OE certification programs?
The collision industry is changing before our very eyes. Going forward, certification programs will need to adapt in a proactive manner to the new challenges before us.