As a young manager in the collision repair industry, earning the trust and respect of veteran employees, insurance adjusters and other business partners can be difficult. Many people may assume you are uneducated when it comes to car – how it is put together and how repairs should be handled – because you are young.
However, being young and new in today’s market can have its advantages. With the way vehicles are being manufactured today, many designs and materials have never been seen before, especially considering electronic parts, advanced high strength steels and lighter materials. This works to my advantage since I am learning the new materials for the first time versus trying to relearn from years past.
Many old repair methods no longer apply to new vehicle. For example, many high strength steels, such as boron, are not repairable and damage to these parts requires replacement. Lighter materials, such as aluminum, are also being used. Lighter materials are used to compensate for the additional electronic options and increased safety features available, including navigation systems and multiple airbags around the car. Understanding the requirements for these updated repair standards is critical to the success of repairs. Aluminum, for example, requires a separate quarantined area in the shop. If not repaired in a quarantined area, contaminants can cause the aluminum repair to fail. These are just a few examples of how trends in the manufacturing process affect my day-to-day decision-making in the repair process.
Along with learning the new vehicles firsthand in the shop, I also have the opportunity to take different classes within the industry. These classes help me to understand the type of changes being made by the manufacturers in upcoming vehicle models. Classes held by industry organizations like I-CAR and ATEG help me gain the general knowledge of cars before I encounter them during a repair. All managers, estimators and master technicians at Central Collision participate in these training classes to stay up-to-date with vehicle and repair trends. My most recent class was one of the best I have taken; it was a hands-on class for plastic repairs. It walked us through the whole process of prepping and repairing plastic parts such as bumper covers. Staying on top of trends within the industry can improve our customer service and repair quality by being prepared for the new concerns that will arise from owners of new vehicles.
Being new to the industry gives me a different vantage point to how this business operates. My fresh perspective – whether from limited years in the industry or just a new set of eyes – helps me questions standard procedures and practices. Even though I am gaining more vehicle knowledge each day at Central, I hope to always view our operations with this same, fresh perspective so our company can continue to improve.