American Honda Motor Launches New Certification Program

Honda Acura Certified

Nearly six years ago, American Honda Motor launched the ProFirst Certified Body Shop program.

At the time, many in the industry were skeptical about obtaining OEM certifications, according to Rossana Alvarez, assistant manager of collision certification and parts marketing for American Honda Motor. Over time, she said, shop owners began to realize the benefits of certification for their businesses and momentum began to build.

In response to feedback American Honda Motor has received from shops across the country, the OEM has taken steps to update its certified collision program.

As a result, the Honda and Acura Certified Collision Program will replace the ProFirst Certified Collision program during a gradual transition throughout 2021.

“The automotive industry continues to make technological advances at breakneck speed, highlighting the need for repair shops to be fully equipped and trained with access to necessary repair procedures to conduct a safe and proper repair,” said Alvarez. “OEM collision certifications are no longer simply popular; they are essential. The days of them being considered a fad are long gone.”

Alvarez said the collision industry is rapidly changing and it was important for the Honda team to keep pace.

“As OEM certification programs continue to gain traction with other sectors of the collision industry, the immediate recognition by those entities and our Honda and Acura vehicle customers becomes exponentially beneficial to our certified shops and American Honda Motor,” she added.

I recently talked to Alvarez about the new Honda/Acura program established and some of the highlights:

What prompted the decision to replace the ProFirst Certified Collision program?

The ProFirst Certified Collision Program was one of the first OEM certified collision programs to launch, and has made great strides within the collision industry since its inception. We’ve found the program is held in high regard and has been widely accepted by repair facilities.

The Honda and Acura Certified Collision Program provides several improvements, but the most important is enhanced and absolute customer recognition. The new program will effectively leverage the Honda and Acura brands by triggering instant recognition in the larger population, and more importantly, our Honda and Acura vehicle owners.

With ProFirst, customer recognition was an uphill effort---not just for American Honda Motor, but also for our certified shops. We understood and heard our certified shops loud and clear over the years in regard to changing the program’s name. We have been working toward this change for a long time and I am thrilled to finally address the long-held need for an immediate brand connection between our customers and our certified shops.

What are some of the program’s highlights and how does it differ from the former one?

The ProFirst Certified Collision Program included free access to the Honda and Acura Service Information System, Honda and Acura parts catalogs, dedicated regional collision market managers, a customized plaque, promotional items and a Honda and Acura shop locator listing.

Building on this incredible value, the Honda and Acura Certified Collision Program provides immediate customer recognition, more effective advertising logos and a newly redesigned plaque---which is a huge improvement over the ProFirst Certified plaque and will showcase the multiple years a shop has achieved certification.

In addition, there will be an annual certification fee. American Honda Motor has held the same price point since the program was first launched. After evaluation, we felt this was a good time to implement a fee adjustment and remain competitive in the collision space.

Another change will be the standardization of the option for renewing shops to select a guided virtual audit or an on-site audit. During 2020, guided virtual audits were offered as a temporary measure to aid with COVID-19 state and regional restrictions and will now become a standard option. Training for both programs will also increase in 2021 based on vehicle need.

What types of facilities can become part of the certified network?

Our certified network will continue to be comprised of independent shops, MSOs and shops aligned with a dealer group. We will continue to exercise a high degree of selectivity in inviting new shops to apply and invite certified shops to attempt certification once more.

Shops invited to apply will be determined by each collision market manager for the region in which shops are located. American Honda Motor is very proud of managing our certified network and will continue to do so.

there anything additional you would like the collision industry to know about the program?

The ultimate goal is to connect Honda and Acura vehicle customers with certified shops. These shops have agreed to do the right thing in conducting safe and proper repairs per the provided Honda/Acura repair procedures.

With the increased visibility, this goal becomes even more important. As the program progresses, we will continue to evaluate each shop to determine if it is following the requirements and whether it should be invited to apply for renewal.

I urge all shops, prospective and currently certified, to make sure you understand the requirements and evaluate whether you will be able to support those requirements and the intent of the program.

If the answer is anything other than a resounding “yes,” then it is not for you. Read the “Terms and Conditions” to make sure you make the best business decision for your business.

For more information about the program, contact your local collision market manager, based on the map below:

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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