Opportunity’s Knocking!

Famous racer Bobby Unser said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Winston Churchill gave further clarification on the topic when he said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Lately I have been taken aback by the incredible number of sophisticated electronic systems in our newer vehicles, especially in terms of safety-related systems. There are now systems that detect cars, other objects, heat, road lines, and more outside of the vehicle. We have systems that detect weight on seats and even the heartbeat of an occupant. There are cameras, radar (including Doppler), and an incredible number of various sensors. Some air restraint systems sense pressure changes inside doors to deploy air bags. A tech recently told me of a vehicle that had 80 modules. The resulting change in how we repair vehicles is staggering.

I believe the collision repair industry is just starting to adapt to the changes, in terms of learning how to seek fault codes, resetting diagnostic systems, and recalibrating sensors. A good example is the recalibration of Honda and Toyota right front seat weight sensors after every collision, as the manufacturers specify. While the standard has existed for years, many shops don’t do this. Some are just starting. Some shops sublet this type of work to local experts or dealers and some are learning to do more of it themselves. Some collision shops are starting to perform scan tests on nearly every vehicle as part of the blueprint process. This “different” way of repairing vehicles presents challenges and difficulties, yet I see it as being full of opportunities.

These electronic diagnostics, repairs and recalibrations are normally considered mechanical operations, yet are originally showing up in collision repair facilities. I find it intriguing that this gives reason for those primarily focused on collision or mechanical repair to have necessity to work together and embrace each other’s side of the repair industry. All of a sudden we start sharing many of the same needs, concerns, challenges, as well as opportunities. What an opportunity for the Automotive Service Association as the largest auto repair trade association made up of mechanical and collision repair shops. No other association is in a better position to help train and represent our industry.

As Bobby Unser indicates, it is up to us to prepare for these opportunities. Are we getting adequate training? Are we seeking factory repair information? As repair businesses, are we truly maintaining a status of being the “experts” to properly repair our customer’s vehicles? Those responsibilities are ours. Ignorance is not an excuse.

While some people are intimidated and frustrated and can’t wait to retire, I find these times exciting. I am enthused for the new people coming into our industry and wonder what the future will bring for them. As a repairer I find it exciting to figure out new repair processes and to use our new skills to differentiate ourselves as professionals. I am enthused for ASA as I consider its role in the future. The opportunity to have the collision and mechanical people working in harmony on common issues is intriguing. The needs for education and new equipment are increasing, lending value to our regional and national shows. I see opportunities in abundance.