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Reflect and Rebuild: It’s time we bring trust back to the trade

By Chelsea Stebner

The definition of trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength and ability of a person or a thing.  A confident expectation of something.

It is a simple word with big meaning in our world right now.  Trust is eroding society right now, in relationships, in business, in politics. The lack of trust in the world causes people to act in fear which is evident all around us this past pandemic year.

People do business with us because they like us, because they know us, because they trust us.  Most customers haven’t the faintest idea of how to repair a car, but they believe and trust that we do have the skills and abilities. And they trust that we will do it right.

Quite frankly, I am one of those people with computers and technology. I often say to my IT vendor, “I don’t understand how it works—and that’s okay; but I trust that you will do it right and lead me in the right direction.” It’s a relationship of trust.

Today, we are struggling in our industry because of a lack of trust—something that can take many years to recover, yet our industry continues to erode because of it.

Collision repair technicians are extensively trained and are constantly upgrading their knowledge, to repair highly sophisticated, computerized vehicles that hurl down the highway at high speeds. The trust put in us by our customers is immense.  They are trusting that we are repairing their vehicles back to manufacturers standards so that they can buckle their babies into their seats, hand their keys off to their newly minted teenage driver and trust that should an accident occur, that their vehicle will perform just like the commercial on TV says it will.

The manufacturers, who, over the years, have seen their vehicles repaired improperly by collision repairers are pulling back the reins on who can fix their vehicles and how they are fixed.  They have lost trust in repair shops and have now created accountability with Certifications among many other hoops to jump through.

OEM procedures are the first decision maker in how and if we can fix the vehicle and what kind of tools, products, etc. can be used to fix it.  Repair shops are working to gain the trust of the manufacturer again by earning certifications and taking specialized training to work on certain brands of vehicles. Every repair requires us to look up repair procedures, safety calibrations, perform test drives and more.  And each repair is unique.

The insurance companies are looking to save dollars everywhere that they possible can.  We get that.  We need to save dollars as well. But trust—or lack of it—is causing breakdowns in communication and in production during the collision repair process.  It is causing layers of paperwork and administrative time. It is causing relationships that we think are decent, to erode over small issues. The experts who are highly trained in collision repair and who are continuously upgrading their training are being undermined for a dollar here or there.

Sir Isaac Newton is quoted as once saying: “Men build too many walls and not enough bridges”.

I think that collision repairers today want to build bridges and build trust and want to simply do the right thing, every time.  Collision repairers want and need sustainable businesses.  Insurance companies need to know that shops are doing the right things to repair vehicles every time.  We do want the same things every time.

What do you think will help us continue moving positively forward?

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