Op-Ed: Certification needs to be more than a rubber stamp

Flavio Battilana, Chief Operating Officer of CSN Collision Centres, says certification shouldn't be a 'one size fits all solution.'

By Flavio Battilana, COO of CSN Collision Centres

The following article was submitted by Flavio Battilana, Chief Operating Officer of CSN Collision Centres. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Collision Repair magazine or its parent company Media Matters, Inc.

Toronto, Ontario — November 30, 2016 — Today’s collision repair facility has more external influences than ever before.  In addition to consumer and partnership influences, we now have a vehicle that is so technically advanced it is changing the way we do business daily.  And yet, the collision repair industry continues to be measured and managed as if all collision repairers are equal, which cannot be further from the truth.

CSN was founded on the basis of quality repair work and servicing each individual customers’ needs.  Since day one, every CSN facility is expected to be properly equipped and have trained resources to safely and expertly repair each vehicle that goes through the facility.  As vehicle technology continually evolves, ongoing training of staff, including working with OEM certification programs, has been and will continue to be business as usual. How and where these investments are made will differ in each CSN facility depending on vehicle mix and customer needs.

There’s no doubt about it, the collision repair industry is undergoing a major transition, and needs to be self-managed responsibly, to ensure a clear delineation identifying the highly skilled experts from the average repairers. Understanding and following the latest OEM repair standards and procedures, making the financial commitment to acquire the latest required equipment, sustaining the on-going training to achieve OEM certification, while continuing to meet today’s industry key performance indicators (KPIs) and customer expectations. A highly skilled collision repair expert is invested in being tomorrow’s industry leader. It’s not an ambition for the faint at heart.

Today a certified repair facility is required to cover all of these costs of certification, costs that in some case exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. The challenge lies in cost recovery strategies, which all participants in the auto claims economy would share a similar state of circumstances. The recent announcement by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) to change its risk management strategy by no longer offering basic insurance to luxury drivers will attest to the challenges in this area.

It is the responsibility of all within the automotive aftermarket sector to ensure the sustainability of the auto claims economy, and to be collaborative in addressing the issues. CSN Collision Centres have always been focused on investment for the future, rather than a wait and see policy.

The introduction of OEM certification for luxury has demonstrated that many of the repairs facilities in Canada are not equal. The majority of repair facilities in Canada are not capable of investing in the future of more complex repairs, that really require a higher level of repair knowledge and capability.

The recent development of OEM certification for mainstream vehicles further heightens the awareness of the importance of repairing the vehicle properly to ensure safety and performance. The collision repair industry does not need an added layer of cost. It needs clarity, it needs support, it needs engagement. If there is a need to introduce external organizations to the industry, they must add value. A third-party validation without a return on investment strategy presents significant challenges. If validation is required, it should be completed by an organization that has the best interests of all parties directly connected to the economy.   

While CSN is in support of the industry recognizing and taking steps towards certification and accountability, CSN will continue to work directly with our OEM partners, as opposed to attempting an unproven one size fits all solution.  It is important for the industry to ensure the right facilities are doing the right repairs, with the right compensation.


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