The collision repair industry has done a wonderful job within the last few years of pricing out any type of technician because body shops didn't want to spend money for diagnostic time and the equipment required. They were subletting the work and battle with the insurance companies to get paid for it, and now it's come home to roost in the middle of their world.
So, the insurance companies are starting to pay for diagnostics and the body shops are going to have to have someone on their staff that has these abilities. The early adopters are going to make more money and lead the way, while the latecomers are forced to farm stuff out. It's killing their cycle time because the dealerships have their own work and can keep the shop's cars there for 1--5 days, in many cases. The insurance companies are complaining that they have to pay these costs, whether the shop is farming it out or doing it in-house. But if you're subletting the diagnostics to the dealership, you have to pay for that rental car for an additional week, for example. The dealer’s own work is going to be a priority, so you never really know when you're going to get the car back. As a result, the body shops that are doing their diagnostics in-house are favored by the insurance companies while those that are jobbing it out are not.
Q: What are some of the newer systems that shops will have to be able to repair on newer vehicles?
A: These carmakers are coming up with new systems and features all the time, so the shops have to stay on top of it. Audi recently announced a new system called V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure Communication) that will display the ideal speed to drive in order to make all the green lights. It's only currently available in 13 cities, but if it works, I imagine it will be introduced in every major city in the U.S.