It is 2020 and the buzz words in our industry are Covid and ADAS. I am not going to go down Covid road, so ADAS it is. If you are uncertain of the acronym; ADAS stands for “Advanced Driver Assist Systems”. These are the systems that are compiled of self-park, lane departure warning, collision avoidance, and object detection sensors. (to name a few popular ones) In the collision industry, at this moment, it is one of the most important items to be focused on now, and all moments moving forward. What a heartache; you may be thinking, great toys to add to the severity of repair costs, more steps to repair, more learning, more equipment, more costs …. Good grief! Now as history usually repeats itself there will be a multitude of industry individuals who did, or still do, think this is only on the “high end” models. (power windows, leather, A/C and radios) were also thought of the same way “back in the day” Many with this thought process may also believe the adage “they sure don’t build them like they used too” Thankfully we have advanced, yay human race. Now if this is your mindset, and you are not so on board, stick around and grab a little info for your soul.
Look at this as an opportunity, like one of those get rich quick schemes, well maybe not quite get rich quick, lets call it a profit center. You are in business, is there an investment to be made in this profit center, absolutely, will it pay off over time, absolutely! So how do we look at this as a profit center? Well, more and more vehicles will have these features on them from the factory, including your base model vehicles. They provide a safety component to our day to day lives, and safety is a huge component of any business or market. Humans are lazy, yes, I said lazy, they like the idea of a vehicle doing things for them, help with parking, help to keep it on the highway, help when they forget to lane check. I myself had a vehicle at my disposal recently that had adaptive cruise control, must say, if nothing else, it paid for itself just on the elimination of speeding tickets, that I was once so proud to have cornered the market on. Some of these accessories will be mandatory or legislated. They are not a fad. (daytime running lights, back up detection systems, etc.) Yes, by 2026 this alone will be a $60 billion segment of the auto industry (Global Market Insights) with $4 billion alone just in park assist. They already have a 30% chunk of Europe. Now before you flip out and say “well, they will just write everything off…” you don’t think the aftermarket world wants a piece of the action?, of course, they do, and this will be a plus in the aid of keeping severity* at bay (*which by the way, is a topic for another day) Just so you know, companies such as Denso, Bosh, Delphi, plus many others are already knee-deep into R&D on these items, and due to the importance, the quality guidelines will be high and stringent, after all, it is safety.
So, about that profit center, you still with me on this? Good… You will need to make investments into some tooling and software, I cannot tell you exactly what, it is your business, what I can tell you is its time to research it based on your market. If you get an abundance of Toyota through your door, insight tells me that is a good start, if you fix two Jags a year, maybe not the best investment. Now you will need space based on the OEM requirements to program or calibrate these vehicles, unfortunately, this is more than “Wash Bay Diagnostics” If you were hoping the detailer just got a promotion, think again, this is a task that involves training and skillsets that require more than soap suds. So, you have committed to the tooling, software, and space, how do I compensate the business for the effort invested so far you ask?
This is where the early bird gets the worm kids. (side note: I do not eat worms) Oddly enough there are no set guidelines in Mitchell or Alldata that lock in hours on calibrations. Now there is agreed on fees for pre and post scanning, yes, however, this is NOT calibrating after repairs. Erasing codes dose not count. To my, and your amazement, some (including dealers) think it is… so if you thought “I’ll just sublet it and be done with it” … wrong, thanks for playing. The actual process of calibrating will range significantly from one vehicle, and/or task, to another, which you will need to account for the time and actions to complete. There are also road tests that involve far more than going from clean up to front parking lot. “how do I record that?” you ask, well there are apps for that (Calibration Co-Pilot), also companies that aid in assisting with calibration (Air Pro Diagnostics, As-Tech) there are others as well, again, you will have to do your research on how deep you want to dive in. To my point, there is an open window to the calibration timeline, I am not suggesting anyone abuses the idea, just fair and equitable justification. Every car that rolls into your shop could be in line for calibration, after all its 2020. You will need to account for this data using OEM repair guides and photos, possibly available print outs as well. Now for the icing on the cake, this is classified under mechanical, correct me if I am wrong, but your mechanical rate is likely just a tad bit higher than your body rate… (also a discussion for another day) what is that you say? significantly higher? I thought so. As you can see, I think the wheels in your entrepreneurial mind should be turning at this point. Now you may or may not buy into this ideology full on due to reasons outside of my influence (space, training, location) that is fair enough. There are a few mobile companies out there as well, however, you are now dancing with the scheduling demons of the industry as well, not to mention, LOR and KPI’s
The research that I have come across indicates that the physical equipment is a smaller investment than the software and space may be a difficult issue to contend with for some, however, a small stand-alone outbuilding may be a solution to this. Training of any type is a well-invested venture, so I won’t give you that out. The simple equation of mechanical billing versus body is a carrot on its own. Overall, is it worth it? In my opinion, at least entertaining it as a start is, but that is my opinion, and after all, you are entitled to my opinion.
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