Is there an optimum number of shops you want to have and if so, how close are you to reaching that number?
Yes, our overall objective is to maintain 100 percent demographic and geographic coverage of all urban, rural and suburban market areas and have adequate coverage to meet the repair needs for all units in operations for all of the brands represented. This requires approximately 3,000--3,600 certified repair providers across North America.
Have you had any shops drop out and if so, why?
So far, only about 2/3 of all of the shops that apply are able to eventually become certified and remain in the program. The annual renewal rate is nearly 90 percent because most of the collision repairers have continued in the program, unless they sell out to a consolidator or go out of business.
What has been the biggest challenge in establishing the network?
Our initial challenge was getting the industry to understand its value and importance. However, once we established a national footprint of well over 1,000 shops, the momentum changed. Getting to 3,000 is now a matter of shops re-investing to improve their business.
While approximately 10--15 percent of the industry is well on its way to becoming OEM- certified (3,500 to 5,000 shops), the rest remain fixed on the past. Many collision repairers claim they have a great reputation in their market and generate plenty of work without the cost of compliance and certification credentials. There are also many shops that elect to operate outside of the mainstream and don’t feel they’re part of the equation. A massive percentage of the market focuses on cosmetic repairs and/or low-cost, consumer-paid repairs and wrongly assume they don’t have to have the OEM-required tools, equipment and training to still be able to repair the next generation of vehicles.