Mike Anderson

mike anderson autobody newsMike Anderson is the president and owner of Collision Advice, a consulting company for the auto body/collision repair industry. For nearly 25 years, he was the owner of Wagonwork Collision Center, an OEM-certified, full-service auto body repair facility in Alexandria, VA.

Thursday, 04 June 2020 12:31

From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Determining Whether---and How---to Charge for OEM Research

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The second thing to consider as you determine whether and what to charge for OEM research is the labor time involved. That consists of the time to find all the needed information within the OEM system, read it, print it and distribute or review it as needed with technicians.


As many of you are likely well aware, that can be a time-consuming task. One of my teammates, Josh Kuehn, recently wrote an estimate to replace a quarter panel on an Acura MDX. He had to pull more than 90 pages of OEM repair procedures.


It’s not a matter of just pulling the procedures for the quarter panel. You need to know, for example, what’s involved in removing and reinstalling the bumper cover. You need to know, if removing and reinstalling a door is involved, whether you need to reinitialize the pinch protection on the window. You need to know what steps are required after reconnecting the battery if disconnected for welding. You need to look up all the corrosion protection steps involved.


Some might argue that Josh should know some of what’s included in those procedures. But you can’t take anything for granted, because procedures vary from model to model and may change over time.


It also can involve digging for needed information other than the first place on the OEM website where you might assume you’d find it.


I was contacted by a shop that had researched the OEM procedures for replacing a rocker panel on a specific vehicle. Because no sectioning procedure was shown, the shop replaced the entire rocker panel. The insurance company involved refused to pay because there was a sectioning procedure. It just was included under the door post section of the OEM website.


So sometimes you have to think outside the box and look in other areas as you do the research. All of the OEM websites are organized differently.


I had a similar experience to Josh’s when I recently wrote an estimate to replace a quarter panel on a Toyota Camry; more than 90 pages of documents were involved. I by no means claim to the best at researching OEM procedures, but I believe I’m above average. Yet I easily had five hours into researching the OEM procedures and writing the estimate.


Now obviously, the more OEM research you do, the better and faster you will get at it. Repetition breeds efficiency. That’s why a few shops---our surveys indicate about one in 20---designate a particular person to do all the OEM research.


There are third-party solutions that standardize the organization of the OEM information, which is great, though I still am a proponent of accessing the OEM information directly. But in any case, this is definitely not a five-minute task.


I know there are efforts under way by automakers, estimating system providers and others to create solutions to these challenges, to help reduce the amount of time it requires to find the correct dozens of pages of documents needed for most repairs.


But until that happens, you need to keep doing it, and consider whether it is something for which you should charge. And above all, save all the researched documents with the job file, so in case you ever need to do so, you can prove how the automaker called for the vehicle to be repaired at the time you did it. 

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