by Levy Joffrion
Assistant Editor, AutoInc. Magazine
Bill Haas, vice president of education and training for the Automotive Service Association (ASA), presented Part 1 of his course, "Electronic Service Information in a Collision Repair Facility" Wednesday morning. Part 2 was presented Friday morning. The class focused on how to navigate through the collision repair sections of the service information Web sites of the automobile manufacturers, and focusing on the business management side of implementing these resources into a collision repair business.
Haas stresses that if you're going to stay competitive in the "information age," your shop must have high-speed Internet access. He still endorses the traditional ways of getting information from third party providers. But the automakers have put service information, diagnostic tool information and training materials on the Internet, giving anyone quick and ready access to the same information as franchised dealer technicians.
Haas tackled the issue of what he called industry misconceptions - perceptions vs. reality. For example, one perception is you can't repair because you don't have the information you need. Haas says the reality is that more service information is available today than any other time in the history of the automobile.
Another perception is that accessing the information costs too much. Truth is, the average cost of accessing a manufacturer's Web site is less than $20 a day.
Haas explained that accessing the manufacturer Web sites is easy. Simply go to the ASA Web site (www.asashop.org), click on "Related Links," then click on "Service Information Web sites." Every manufacturer's Web site is included and anyone with a credit card can access any site.
The class provided attendees an opportunity to visit the vehicle manufacturers' Web sites free of charge. Using an interactive format, Haas showed attendees how easy it is to access a site and exactly where to find information about collision repair, and how to navigate the collision repair sections.
He also recommended that shop owners familiarize themselves with the OEM Web sites well before they are faced with a repair that requires use of the sites. Since each site is unique, shop owners and their employees will benefit from becoming familiar with the site content and navigation without the pressures of production deadlines, Haas said.
In Part 2 of the course, Haas offered many tips on how to optimally use the Web sites with an eye toward financial control. For example, it's cost-effective to save information you've paid for so that information can be used for future repair jobs. Although technicians need access to OEM Web sites, the shop owner may want to get a credit card in the name of the shop with a suggested limit so that he or she won't be surprised by how much technicians have charged in visiting OEM Web sites. The credit card should be used solely for that purpose, and it's important to establish shop policies as to who can access OEM Web sites, when, etc.
Haas believes that collision shops will quickly realize the benefit of these technical information resources. Integrating the use of this information into the collision repair process will reduce cycle time and increase labor sales by performing more work in-house - work that may have been previously sent elsewhere.