Ask an Expert: Collision repairers working to gain your trust

by  John and Theresa Kightlinger

Today, we are struggling in the vehicle repair industry because of a lack of trust—something that can take many years to recover, yet the 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.

Over the years, manufacturers observed their vehicles repaired improperly by
collision repairers. They now 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.

Original equipment manufacturer (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 possibly 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.”

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.

John and Theresa Kightlinger own My Body Shop at 401 N. Clinton St., Stockbridge.The couple have lived in the area and raised their children here over the past 20 years. John has been in the auto body business since 1985, and Theresa began work at General Motors after high school. Between the two, they have been working on cars for more than 75 years. 

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