Facing a CrossroadPosted 8/11/2005
By George Gilbert
Several years ago, collision repairers began requesting that vehicle manufacturers produce fastener kits to facilitate repairs. Most OEMs heard the request, many considered it, and one - Ford Motor Co. - acted on it.
Ford now produces fastener kits for most of the highest-volume bumper fascias we sell. It's important to note that several other OEMs are watching results of this initiative before making the serious investments necessary to identify, consolidate, package, inventory and distribute the multiple components contained in such kits.
The benefits of using fastener kits are numerous:
After an initial surge in interest and sales, there has been a steady decline in purchases of kits by collision repair professionals, significantly lower than sales of matching fascias. As you might expect, this has been surprising and disappointing, especially with what appeared to be such a positive initial reaction from repairers.
I use this as an example of a recurring problem OEMs face as we attempt to deliver on requests from collision repairers, only to be disappointed when we deliver what we believe repairers have requested.
There's another current example - technical collision repair information. I get more questions on this topic from repairers than on any other subject. To fulfill requests from the collision repair community, more technical repair information is available today than ever before. Ford produces and provides an enormous amount of this information, which repairers can purchase in a number of formats - paper manuals, online subscriptions, etc.
But, guess what? No matter what we do or how we do it, we just can't seem to satisfy the needs of collision repairers. Certainly there is a monetary cost to the repairer, but one that's no greater than the cost to Ford to provide the information.
The bottom line isn't hard to figure - if repair professionals make specific requests but fail to act when an OEM delivers, it becomes less likely an OEM will act when subsequent requests are made. Our original commitment was to produce fastener kits for every new bumper fascia. Success in this area may very likely lead us to expand kit offerings to the many other groups of fasteners used on other parts throughout the vehicle. Failure may cause the program to wither, thereby influencing the actions of other OEMs.
We are committed to meeting your requests. Please help us to do so by showing your support for our fastener kit program. Members of the Automotive Service Association are among the elite in our industry - many times setting the standard for the rest of the industry. Now's the time to lead.
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