As automotive businesses have navigated the pandemic and prepared for a return to “normal” business, many have spent time improving their facilities, from painting and organizing to implementing new processes. But one area that many collision repair facilities overlook on their improvements list is their technology.
VeriFacts Automotive, which provides the highest level of collision repair business coaching, evaluation and verification services to collision repair shops across North America, notes that the advanced technology needed to run the shops isn’t keeping up with the advanced technology in the cars they are repairing.
“Today, with the new ‘no-touch’ service, new data-enabled equipment and smart tools, shops need a powerful, integrated technology platform to maximize the benefits of their resources,” says Fred Iantorno, vice president of IoT for VeriFacts Automotive. “Many shops still have the same server and data capacity that powered their front office. This means they can’t meet the connectivity needs of handling virtual estimates, customers’ wireless service, technicians’ data download demands and overall information management required for every vehicle repair.”
Iantorno points to five key areas where collision repair facilities need to evaluate and upgrade their technology:
- Connectivity and Bandwidth: The foundation of your technology network is your internet service provider and the bandwidth they can provide. For maximum efficiency, you should determine the availability of adequate signal strength in most all locations within your shop and in outside areas where you will be handling “no-touch” vehicle dropoff and delivery. This can easily be done by downloading any number of apps that you can get from the Apple store or Google Play. You should also consider how many people and devices will be used in your shop to ensure you have enough bandwidth to support everything and everyone.
- High-Tech Tools: Most all new shop equipment (scanners, frame measurement, welders, etc.) have internet connections. This allows the ability to upload vehicle data to shop estimating systems, download repair procedures and standards, even monitor equipment performance and repair needs.
- Inventory of Internet Connected Equipment: While you are checking the “Connectivity and Bandwidth” above, you should record and keep an inventory of your equipment that is or can be connected to the internet. You do not need an elaborate inventory system or method: a simple spreadsheet or Word document works well.
- Data Backup and Recovery: By now everyone knows that they should have a backup mechanism for the data on their PC and on their servers. If you do not, stop right now and get a backup system or software in place. However, this is not enough. You need to periodically (at least once a year, preferably monthly) test the data recovery portion. Make a habit of recovering and restoring and you will find that, if you have a data loss event, you are prepared, confident, and you will recover quicker and with minimal stress.
- Data Pumps: Do you know what these are? You or someone installed these on your servers so that you could transmit and receive data. These pumps are vendor specific. Are you still using that vendor? If not, do you know if the data pump has been removed? Was it removed? If you do not immediately know the answer, then it probably is still working in the background. It is time that you remove any data pumps that you are no longer using. If you have IT personnel, get this on their work schedule to check. If you do not have IT personnel, get some outside If you aren’t managing this closely, your shop data and your customers’ data could be at risk for unauthorized use.
“Now is the ideal time to upgrade your shop’s total technology platform and empower your productivity and efficiency for years to come,” adds Iantorno. “Not only will you be able to maximize the return on your investment in advanced equipment, your team members will be better able to deliver a ‘no-touch’ approach to vehicle repair for your customers.”