Waseem Tarabishi insists employees at his San Diego-area collision repair shop take the online classes they need to maintain their technical certifications while on the clock so he can make sure they are paying attention.
After buying CollisionTech in El Cajon, CA, three years ago from owners who “didn’t know what they were doing,” he invested $35,000 in a TruScan Live Mapping System that can detect structural damage that otherwise might go unnoticed. Regular software updates to the scanner cost $1,500 a year.
He also owns a $2,500 scanner for vehicle electronic systems. Regular software updates cost $1,100 annually. He pays for memberships that provide regular updates to collision repair manuals produced by auto manufacturers.
Tarabishi’s effort to keep up with technology has earned him a five-star customer-satisfaction rating on Yelp and a Gold Class designation by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR.) He said the I-CAR certification is practically mandatory if he wants insurers to send business his way, but it’s not always a pleasure to work with them.
“The industry is controlled by the insurance carriers,” he said. “I call them mafia.”
Tarabishi said his dim view is shaped by claims adjusters who push to finish jobs quickly instead of taking the time to do it right. He said carriers seem unconcerned about repair work that leaves hidden damage behind, endangering the safety of their customers.
“They are counting on your stupidity,” he said. “What you don’t know saves them money.”
Tarabishi is one of many experts who believes that technical acumen and strict adherence to manufacturers’ repair specifications are imperative for today’s collision repair industry. Auto manufacturers are using new materials to reduce vehicle weight, adding sophisticated safety systems and forsaking the internal combustion engine for all-electric propulsion.
Technicians who once relied mostly on welding torches and ball-peen hammers now need the help of advanced scanning and diagnosis equipment, along with online access to manufacturers’ updated repair procedures.
Efforts to control costs and reduce claim cycle times creates tension between insurers and collision repair professionals. The use of...