Subaru of America is currently preparing to launch the Subaru Certified Collision Center Network to independent shops across the country. Nicole Riedel, wholesale parts specialist for Subaru of America, recently shared information about the program requirements and what collision repair facilities should expect.
Riedel reviewed the program and all its onboarding elements during a recent webinar hosted by Dave Luehr’s Elite Body Shop Academy.
This included information about tools and equipment, facility standards and the training and technician requirements.
“We’re excited to begin offering our certified collision network to independents across the country,” said Riedel. “For the last few months, we have been conducting a pilot program and initial launch with our retailers, and now we are preparing to launch the program to the public. On Nov. 28, we announced to our waitlist that enrollment will open on Jan. 1, 2019.”
Q: What are the main goals of the Subaru Certified Collision Network?
A: The goals of the Subaru Certified Collision Network are a little different than what some people think. Rather than it being about selling parts or going after aftermarket companies about the parts they sell, we’re not trying to go against anything negative. Instead, the program centers around proper and safe repairs.
We at Subaru really care about our owners; we consider the Subaru family one big happy family. We love dogs, we love kids, we love the outdoors and we just want to spread the love to the collision industry.
One of the ways Subaru has set out to serve vehicle owners better is to make sure that at the time of an accident they are getting treated the same way they would throughout any Subaru experience: with love, respect and integrity. We also want to ensure that the collision centers interested in doing the right thing for their owners are being elevated to a point where everyone can know that about them.
Not all collision centers are created equally, and we want to raise the flag and provide awareness of the facilities out there that are doing a really good job.
Q: Who should join the Subaru Certified Collision Network?
A: We encourage anyone who believes in the same values as Subaru to jump on board with our network, and we can fulfill the Subaru Love Promise together.
Non-Subaru dealers can take part as well, as long as they have the required equipment and follow our processes.
Q: How would you explain Subaru’s Love Promise, and what does it entail?
A: The Subaru Love Promise is a commitment that we share with our retailers and Subaru of America employees. It is a promise to do right by our community by partnering with nonprofit education, health, community, environment and animal organizations---to set Subaru apart through our deeds and the deeds of our partners and to be unlike any other car company by doing what is right and good, just for the sake of doing it. We’re asking our collision partners to make this commitment as well.
The Subaru Love Promise is supported by five different initiatives focused on the Environment (Subaru Loves the Earth), Health & Wellness (Subaru Loves to Care), Community (Subaru Loves to Help), Education (Subaru Loves Learning) and Animal Welfare (Subaru Loves Pets), where we partner with charitable organizations to do philanthropy, volunteerism, etc.
As part of the terms and conditions for our Subaru Certified Collision Network, we are mandating that collision centers complete at least one volunteer effort throughout the year with a 501(c)(3) organization to make sure they are reaching out and doing what they can for their communities and fulfilling that Love Promise in every regard. Donations are accepted, but they will not fulfill the requirement. Actual outreach and (volunteer) time are required.
We believe this sets Subaru’s certified program apart from others. It is the heart and soul of Subaru, and it’s very important to us that we carry it out through every initiative we take.
Q: Who is handling most of the administration for Subaru’s program?
A: The core of our program is done in partnership with Wadsworth International. They are handling most of the administration, all of the onsite audits and customer service. They are doing a great job with retailers and pilot shops.
In addition, we elected to use the Enterprise Rent-A-Car ARMS® (Automated Rental Management System) Automotive Suite to upload all of the collision center profiles. If a collision center already has an ARMS profile, the facility can link up to it.
Q: What is the cost of the program and what does that fee include?
A: There is a $3,200 annual fee that covers a one-year subscription to the AutoWatch web portal where a facility uploads its documents. An annual quality repair production audit is also included, as well as access to Subaru Technical Information System (STIS), which includes details about all of our repair procedures.
Included in the cost of the program, Subaru will also manage a facility’s KPIs, such as cycle time. If a shop is struggling in any area, we’ll work closely with employees to help them improve.
All participants will receive an initial welcome kit, a certification plaque, an indoor/outdoor banner, window clings, estimate sleeves and access to profit boosters, a website with downloadable marketing materials such as fliers, email/digital materials and logos. Collision centers will also be featured on www.Subaru.com and the ARMS profiles.
Q: What is the importance of uploading documentation to AutoWatch?
A: We feel it reduces some of a shop’s liability. A lot of the liability falls on the collision centers to prove that these repairs were done properly. That can be a huge burden. When all of the information is uploaded into AutoWatch, shops have some evidence to prove that they were really doing the right thing.
AutoWatch also provides real-time updates on vehicles for customers, which builds trust and helps them feel like a part of the process and secure in the work that the collision center is doing. It also offers the capability to track Customer Service Index (CSI). At the end of a repair, customers will receive a survey through AutoWatch where they can rate their experience and we can ensure the brand experience is being met.
Q: Does a shop need to be I-CAR Gold Class-certified?
A: Yes, a shop must be I-CAR Gold Class-certified, and no more than two positions can be held by any one person at a repair facility. I believe I-CAR has adopted this rule as well.
Q: What is Subaru’s position on scanning?
A: We recently changed our scanning position statement to say that pre- and post-scanning are required. Previously, it said they were recommended. We believe that this is integral since there are so many things that can happen in an accident. We know that collision centers often have a hard time pushing this through with insurance providers, and if changing scanning to ‘required’ is something that helps collision centers do the right thing, then by all means, we are happy to help out.
The other aspect we are requiring with scanning is that shops can either use the Subaru-specific SSM4 diagnostic tool and update the software on their own, or use the asTech system, which is a great tool for people who are working on all different makes and models. Either of those is accepted. No other equipment is approved. The only reason we are requiring those tools is that we can measure them and make sure they are up-to-date to ensure a safe and proper repair.
Q: Are there any other tooling requirements?
A: Rather than requiring specific brands and models, the required tools are based on specifications. If shops have a welder that meets the specs for a safe and proper repair based on STIS, we are happy to have them use that.
Q: As an independent shop, when can I register for the program and what should I expect?
A: Currently, the program is open to all Subaru retailers and independent collision centers. We are opening this program to anyone who is a hand-raiser right now. We gave retailers about six months to jump on board and secure their place in their area, and those that were interested have done that.
There is no referral or sponsorship needed from a retailer to enroll. Positions will be assigned in order of inquiry and based on market demand. We’re using many metrics in each area, such as units in operation (UIO), insurance claims data and Subaru sales to determine market demand and how many collision centers we can have in a given geographical area.
We’re not using the typical retailer area responsibility model because the UIO for aging vehicles are very different than a sales area. We are trying to do what’s fair because we don’t want to oversaturate the market. We want to make sure that the business and the work is there so shops can build relationships and have good communication with customers. We have plenty of open space across the United States. I doubt we will turn many people away, especially from the onset, so if you’re interested, please sign up (details below).
Q: There have been rumors that the program has been pushed back. Is this true?
A: Definitely not. We wanted to make sure all of the retailers knew the date before we told everybody else because they had invested in the brand and have worked with us over the years to make Subaru what it has become. We felt there was a sense of loyalty to them to make sure they understood what was happening before we made the announcement to the public. If you are on the waiting list, you’ll receive an email.
For more information and to sign up for the program/be added to the waiting list, email: email@example.com or call 877-257-0046.