Smart Repairs has morphed out of all shape since the airbrushes of the mid 1990s have been replaced by specially designed and manufactured equipment for the needs of professional minor repairers.
With the recent advent of minor repair bays implanted onto dealer sites the market has seen a complete change of direction and the small costs for small repairs being at times replaced by significant costs and bodyshop repairs being attempted in timeframes normally reserved for Smart Repairs.
It is interesting to trace how repair methods and products have changed as the market grows and to look forward at how dealer repairs will evolve in the near future.
Back to the 90s
Initially the costs were relatively small as minor repairs and the advent of mobile Smart Repairs were split between touching up stone chips in a more professional way and blends to bumper corners. There was far more job satisfaction for Smart Repairers on completing blending work as the stone chip repairs represented a more cosmetic process than a bodywork repair.
At the same time costs to dealerships remained low representing the new, simple repair that Smart Repairs represented at the time.
Into the new millennium – 2000 – 2010
As the processes evolved and repairers moved towards professional HVLP (high volume low pressure) guns the standards began to rise and many repairers moved away from stone chipping as a low level repair. Dealers began to take on Smart Repairs more fully understanding that a quality repair and a refurb to a used car could enhance the value – by lowering costs that a traditional bodyshop would charge, or by enhancing the saleability of a used car by either lifting the price that a dealer was able to charge or by creating a condition of the car whereby it would be sold much faster.
The third stage saw highly professional equipment allow repairers really earn their niche within the bodyshop sector with most repairers moving completely away from the more cosmetic repairs, completing high quality minor repairs to single panels. Equipment and products have evolved out of all recognition and the IMI’s ATA accreditation sits as a sector standard for all professional repairers.
At this time most dealers use a Smart Repairer of a certain standard either in – house or outsourced to complete used car prep. This traditionally has been instead of, or alongside Bodyshops whether they are on-site or external.
The recent advent of installed repair booths represents a hybrid where both minor repairs and small bodyshop repairs can be completed on site and seems a change in direction as many dealers have moved away from the concept of having Bodyshops on site. The core, most profitable business for most Bodyshops are the jobs from £500 up to £2000 outside the range of normal Smart Repairs which can be anything up to £150.
The pods represent an interesting move but it remains to be seen as to whether a minimum of £15000 worth of work can be produced each month on a dealer site. That certainly is a lot of Smart Repairs and dealers may find that the cost of their standard repairs needs to go up to meet the capacity needs of the pod on site. It remains to be seen as to whether this service meets the needs of the dealers or will ultimately prove to be an expensive white elephant on dealer forecourts.
One thing is certain – the importance of used car prep will not go backwards and the prep can still be a key differentiator in a competitive marketplace. Dealerships all use some form of Smart Repair and they should be asking more of their repairers to ensure that they get the most effective service providing both a high quality service and an income stream to the dealers.
Mark Llewellyn is Managing Director of Revive! the largest network of accredited Smart Repairers serving the Dealer market. For more information on Revive! contact dealersolutions@revive-UK.com or call 01788 569999.