“You’re making the investment today for the return down the line,” said Connor Smith, CARSTAR original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manager, as he began describing the value in auto glass businesses gaining OEM certifications in an industry webinar.
The webinar, The Importance of OEM Certification, was hosted by the Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) today and took a closer look at the long-term benefits available to the industry. Smith shared his insight on why now is the time for businesses to start looking into becoming OEM certified, which certifications are the most beneficial to shops, what the return on investment (ROI) looks like once gaining certifications and what the future of certifications look like.
Automotive technology plays a large role in why Smith thinks “now is the time to look into OEM certifications.” During the webinar Smith mentioned some of the related challenges associated with newer-model vehicles.
“Everyone knows your standard Corolla is more high tech now than it was 10 years ago,” said Smith. “All of the advancements and safety-marketed features makes repairs more challenging, especially when you factor in the training. The best way to get OEM certifications of any type is through training.”
When it comes to which certification shop owners should consider, Smith had a simple but direct answer – “business owners should choose the one that they have the most equipment for and that doesn’t need a huge investment to start.”
He advised industry business owners to look at their local dealerships and inquire if they need or have a body shop. This according to Smith, can lead to a possible partnership or sponsorship in the future. He stressed the importance of always having a good relationship with your local dealers.
“The first thing you should do is research various certification requirements and other needs,” said Smith. “Be aware that some certifications will require dealer sponsorships – this is why building a relationship with them is key.”
There were a number of attendees who were concerned about the ROI associated with gaining specific OEM certifications. Smith responded to their concerns by stating “this is a long-term game and you should think of this like a 401k for your business, it’s wrong to want short-term gains from these certifications.” Although the cost associated with certifications is high up front, according to Smith, there are several areas for future growth. By choosing this type of investment for your business you could gain additional technicians, marketing support from the OE’s, which include an influx of brochures as well as digital content, and more according to Smith.
“The potential for additional techs could also get your business additional cars within the year as well, you just have to keep reminding yourself that it’s a big investment upfront, but a minimal maintenance investment,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the future of OEM certifications are uncertain but are a big factor in the “right now.” “There’s one consistent thing, the OE’s are here and they aren’t going away,” said Smith.
He also stated these types of certifications are becoming a standard which may lead to issues with future repairs if your shop or technicians aren’t certified.
“I honestly think it’s worth the investment to keep your business,” Smith concluded.