The Best Body Shops’ Tips: Why OEM Certifications Are Critical to Remain in Business

Robb Young of Assured Performance
Robb Young of Assured Performance

For those body shops still not convinced that obtaining OEM certifications is a critical component for surviving in the future, Robb Young of Assured Performance said, “Change is necessary if you want to capitalize on the opportunity of the future. If you continue to run your business the same way you have been, five years from now your business will either be dying or go out of business.”

Young recently spoke to a group of body shop owners and managers during the AkzoNobel Acoat Selected North American Performance Group meeting in San Diego, CA, about the “20/20 Vision: Leveraging Your Certification.” That 20/20 Vision, according to Young, is the point in which a shop has 20 percent growth in its business and earns a 20 percent pretax net profit, an achievement made possible as a result of OEM certification and executing a well-thought-out business strategy to become an OEM Certified Collision Care provider. Young is the director of strategic accounts for Assured Performance, a North American administrator of OEM certification programs, network management platforms and collision repair business development programs and tools.

During his training session, Young discussed the new paradigm taking place in the collision repair industry and presented the case for certification from both revenue and expense perspectives.

He identified the three main focuses insurance companies have today: customer satisfaction, cost reduction and risk mitigation.

“The paradigm is shifting and they [insurance companies] are looking for ways to save money and reduce risk,” said Young, who had worked in the insurance industry and automotive industry for 25 years prior to joining Assured Performance Network this year. Rather than viewing insurance companies as customers, he suggested looking at them as strategic partners.

“The top insurance carriers are already looking at their DRP programs and overlaying them with certification programs as a possible way to enhance and improve the 35-year-old business model,” said Young, who predicts this will continue in the future.

As a result, he stressed the importance of getting certified to stay competitive.

“As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,’” said Young.

Currently, approximately 10 percent of shops across the United States have some type of certification. The reason, according to Young, is they lack the proper tools, equipment, training and facilities to repair vehicles to OEM specifications for proper fit, finish and safety. For example, out of the 6,000 shops that have applied for certification through Assured Performance Network over the last seven years, Young said only 25--30 percent could obtain certification.

“If only 10 percent of the shops are experts, be one of those top 10 percent,” Young recommended. “Be the local expert of choice.”

He encouraged shop owners and managers to change their current line of thinking, begin exploring what sets them apart from the shop down the street and utilize OEM certification as a marketing differentiator.

Young mentioned how certification not only differentiates a business, but how it also can help with staff recruitment, marketing, how customers choose a shop, manage the company’s processes and with overall quality.

OEM certification also provides quality assurance for a facility in the event there is litigation. He talked about the importance of having a process in place and documenting that process on every single repair.

“If you are pulled into a court of law, you’ll need to provide substantial documentation to show how you followed OE repair procedures by a trained technician, using the correct parts,” Young cautioned.

He also mentioned the OE-QC tool inside Assured Performance’s ShopOps platform that every certified shop has access to.

The first step is to set up basic rules and processes. This includes listing out the tool and equipment purchases necessary for the facility, allocating money toward training, marketing and researching the cost of certification fees.

“Yes, there’s a cost to getting certifications,” explained Young. “You can’t buy them. You have to qualify. It’s a value proposition that must permeate your shop’s culture.”

Although there is an investment necessary for certification, it has been shown to ultimately increase the amount of business coming to your doorstep.

“Most of our shops see an increase in the number of vehicles they repair if they follow the process and the marketing strategies laid out through the OEM Certification programs,” Young said.

Young also pointed out that OEMs are proactively communicating with insurance companies and marketing to consumers through Assured Performance’s locators and marketing tools available in ShopOps.

“OEMs are increasingly directing traffic to shops that are certified,” he said. “Over the last 18 months, data has shown that a shop that follows OEM procedures has a lower cycle time and higher CSI score.”

Once a shop receives certification, Young reminded shop owners and managers to let everyone know about it.

“When you get certified, you have the right to carry that badge,” he said. “It’s an honor, so make sure to use them on all your marketing collateral.”

5 tips on how to market your certifications:

1) Educate the “key holders.” Consumers are the ones who have the right to choose who repairs their vehicles. “Many people won’t know the name of your shop but will recognize the name of the OEM,” Young explained.

2) List all certifications on the company website and create a landing page with information.

3) Hold an open house and invite the community to attend.

4) Use email and direct email campaigns to reach out to former customers, insurance agents and others.

5) Share information about your certifications on social media.

In closing, Young recommended getting certified over the next 12 months.

“Just pick one and do it,” he said. “Change your reality and become a leader in the industry. Not only does this give customers confidence that you can get the job done, but it also demonstrates you are best in class.”

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Columnist
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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