Panel & Paint

Motor Equipment News - - ED SPEAK - By Pe­ter Adams, group CEO, Cor­po­rate & Pres­tige.

So­cial me­dia has the power to sweep long es­tab­lished gov­ern­ments out of of­fice. Or as we have just learned from watch­ing the re­cent failed coup at­tempt in Turkey, bring out the pop­u­lace to stare down well-armed sol­diers com­plete with tanks and at­tack he­li­copters – now that’s what I call com­mit­ment!

How­ever, in New Zealand’s col­li­sion re­pair in­dus­try it would seem that we have still yet to learn the pen can be might­ier than the sword. Words have mean­ing and power; es­pe­cially if com­mit­ted to writing and stated often enough through so­cial me­dia as in the ex­am­ples above. Last month I raised the is­sue of the skill short­ages in not only this in­dus­try, but gen­er­ally across most sec­tors.

The para­dox that seems to ex­ist is that every­one has an opin­ion, but it would seem as long as it’s only spo­ken, no one from an in­surance com­pany can use it against an in­di­vid­ual. How do I know this? Years of hear­ing the same tired sto­ries of how hard it is, and the ab­so­lute lack of pos­i­tive ideas or ac­tion on how the in­dus­try can be­come more sus­tain­able for all con­cerned.

Se­duc­ing school leavers

So just how do we se­duce our school leavers into be­com­ing au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cians, panel beat­ers, body builders, spray painters, or auto elec­tri­cians? Are th­ese trades too hard to learn, dirty, un­pleas­ant, too poorly paid, un­cool or what? Are our cur­rent trades­men too busy or grumpy to train peo­ple? Is there a con­cern among our young that th­ese skills are short dated and won’t sur­vive the rise of the au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle? Or heaven for­bid, you guys are just way too busy to at­tract, re­cruit and train young peo­ple?

It wasn’t me, but…

Some­one asked me about “my” ar­ti­cle about au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle. For the record I didn’t write the story “Au­ton­o­mous cars will hit in­sur­ers – ex­pert" as in­cluded on the Panel & Paint pages last month. Ap­par­ently by 2035 crashes will have re­duced by 80 per­cent due to tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances. How­ever, our na­tional mo­tor fleet is an aver­age of 12 years old, so any­one sug­gest­ing that in the next 19 years we won’t be need­ing In­surance com­pa­nies is mak­ing a pretty bold state­ment.

The ar­ti­cle seems to be quot­ing from the EU ex­pe­ri­ence, but as we know not every­one drives a Volvo, and Euro trends seem to take a while be­fore get­ting to our tiny place on the other side of the world.

Talk­ing of trends – yes, there is a need to panic, for the vast ma­jor­ity of jobs as we know them will change dra­mat­i­cally or dis­ap­pear due to ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy; and sooner than we think. All those in train­ing to be ac­coun­tants and lawyers will be re­placed by smart databasedriven sys­tems, and many others will be re­placed with an up­surge in robotic sys­tems. The one con­stant will be that you will still need to pro­vide for your­self and any de­pen­dents.

My pick is that the way things are go­ing, in a few short years the ma­jor­ity of guys in charge of to­day’s col­li­sion re­pair shops will have had enough of in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion, lack of qual­ity staff, higher stan­dards of re­pair and equip­ment; and will have sold out to prop­erty devel­op­ers hun­gry to make a fast buck by con­vert­ing com­mer­cial build­ings into dwellings.

My other pick is that it will be quite some time be­fore ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence will be able to drive a ro­bot suf­fi­ciently well enough to do col­li­sion re­pairs – the task to de­vise it would be mon­u­men­tal, and way too ex­pen­sive.

Fat-cat times a-com­ing

Those left op­er­at­ing will be­come the fat cats of old, and will be laugh­ing about the days when col­li­sion re­pair­ers used to sell their time for less than $120 per hour. Any­one join­ing our in­dus­try and learn­ing a trade will in­herit the cars of to­day, clas­sics to be re­stored or re­built to the ex­act­ing stan­dards of the rebels with the cash to be able to fol­low their pas­sion for white knuckle driv­ing among the clones on the roads of to­mor­row; with­out pesky on­board sys­tems.

The great thing about learn­ing a trade is the prac­ti­cal up­side of gain­ing a di­verse range of trans­fer­able skills that can read­ily be ap­plied elsewhere, such as boat-build­ing, house DIY, or project man­age­ment. I even met a hair­dresser who was once a trade qual­i­fied panel beater!

Feed­back from CRA

I was de­lighted to re­ceive an email from Neil Pritchard sup­port­ing the views ex­pressed that in­deed the in­dus­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a se­vere skill short­age. Thanks, Neil, for out­lin­ing a few of the CRA’s ini­tia­tives: 1. CRA July Road­show cur­rently tour­ing 11 venues na­tion­wide fea­tures three speak­ers, one of which is One World Re­sourc­ing which of­fers ser­vices in­clud­ing labour hire and staff se­lec­tion of pan­el­beat­ers and spray­painters from the Philippines. 2. We have an ap­pren­tice­ship schol­ar­ship avail­able for panel and paint which pays for apprentice fees and pro­vides men­tor­ing by Rick Lunn – I-CAR in­struc­tor and WorldSkills coach. 3. CRA has com­mis­sioned a video to pro­mote the

in­dus­try to young po­ten­tial en­trants. 4. Ad­di­tion­ally we have a mo­bile kit for use at ca­reers expos and the like. This is con­stantly be­ing re­fined and im­proved. For more in­for­ma­tion about the CRA or how to get started in a ca­reer with a fu­ture, you might like to check out www.col­li­sion­re­pair.co.nz/ca­reers-video – and even bet­ter, why not seek ap­proval from Neil to link it to your own web­sites?

Is this your new ca­reer?

The video men­tioned in point 3 above is a great in­sight into a very chal­leng­ing in­dus­try. Some­one see­ing it to­day for the first time could be in three or four years’ time be re­build­ing a man­gled mess to a stan­dard and tol­er­ance spec­i­fied by the man­u­fac­turer, util­is­ing an ex­ten­sive ar­ray of equip­ment.

Or per­haps they may be putting the fi­nal touches to an air­brushed mu­ral on the cus­tom paint fin­ish they have just ap­plied. If they weren’t fully into this, how about be­com­ing an es­ti­ma­tor re­spon­si­ble for pre­par­ing quotes and project man­ag­ing col­li­sion re­pair work. Run­ning an of­fice as an ad­min­is­tra­tor re­quires huge at­ten­tion to de­tail and jug­gling the many as­pects of pur­chas­ing, staff, cour­tesy cars, and cus­tomers.

Re­cently I pre­pared a process map for a client out­lin­ing the var­i­ous as­pects of man­ag­ing a panel shop. When you see it in this for­mat the com­plex­i­ties of run­ning a mod­ern col­li­sion re­pair shop are re­vealed. As you know it must by ne­ces­sity must be done very ef­fi­ciently and cost ef­fec­tively – there are many hid­den places where leak­age can and will oc­cur if not iden­ti­fied and prop­erly man­aged or mon­i­tored.

About last month

Last month I sug­gested we all have re­spon­si­bil­ity for suc­ces­sion plan­ning, and this ex­tends to in­tro­duc­ing new peo­ple to a ca­reer they may not have other­wise thought of. I men­tioned that I would do a fol­low up and in­clude some of the more in­ter­est­ing re­sponses you emailed me.

There were a few calls agree­ing with my views, and one shop owner who spot­ted me fu­el­ing up came over to say he mostly agreed with the views ex­pressed here! But strangely, apart from Neil’s email, which I have quoted from above, I had noth­ing se­ri­ous from in­surance com­pa­nies or any­one else for that mat­ter of­fer­ing wads of cash to in­cen­tivise re­cruit­ing as I had pro­posed.

The trends

Trends are al­ways in­trigu­ing, and there is a wor­ry­ing one I’ve no­ticed from a cus­tomer per­spec­tive. It’s the length of time it now takes from ac­ci­dent dam­age through to re­pair. Although we col­lect all sorts of stats I have yet to anal­y­sis this data to de­ter­mine how this has changed over the last year or two. How­ever, at a guess I would sug­gest the aver­age is quite pos­si­bly as much as seven to 10 days over­all, mostly be­cause of in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion – fewer net­work re­pair­ers do­ing more work and hav­ing longer wait­ing lists as a re­sult.

And fi­nally, it would seem there are more new parts on or­der from over­seas for com­mon mod­els… an ex­am­ple I keep trip­ping over is frontal stuff for late model Corol­las hav­ing to be or­dered from Ja­pan. Come on Toyota – it’s prob­a­bly the most com­mon car on the road – is this the best you can do for your cus­tomers? As al­ways you can email me (pe­ter179@me.com) to tell me why I’ve got it wrong… or share your vi­sion for a pos­i­tive fu­ture of the in­dus­try.

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