With employers having free and easy access to cheap yet skilled foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap talent, is it any wonder that the U.S. jobs market is not recovering as the nation’s business and political leaders want it to? A classic example of this dilemma is when President Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to bring iPhone manufacturing back to the U.S. Jobs’ answer was simple, “They’re not coming back.”
Managers or owners of auto body repair shops may think that this matter doesn’t concern them, and it’s true that the loss of manufacturing jobs doesn’t directly concern them. But the situation above was cited because the loss of manufacturing jobs resulted from average and relatively expensive labor competing with equally skilled (or even better) labor able to do work for much less. In the auto body repair industry where customers can’t really opt for overseas workers, there may be an attitude of traditional skills and work attitudes being good enough for quality repair work.
Auto body repair shop owners who take pride in quality repair work would feel slighted if their work was described as average. When automobile manufacturers are increasing their quality while fighting off competitors, shop owners are practically in the same situation. There are a lot more collision and auto body repair shops these days, with varying degrees of workmanship. Even if one has the most up-to-date equipment, diagnostic tools and software aids, quality repair work comes down to how a repaired vehicle looks and drives when it leaves the shop. This is where the skill and dedication of the shop’s technicians come to the fore. But as a shop owner or manager, do you take efforts to maintain a competitive edge for your business? Do you provide opportunities for your employees to improve their skills? Organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) have training programs that will give your employees the edge they need to compete in the business. And with automakers certifying specific shops to ensure that their products undergo quality repair work, there is a need for shops to step up their game in order to be certified by automobile manufacturers.
Increasingly, this trend is being the route taken even by domestic manufacturers in order to ensure that their vehicles which need auto body repair receive quality repair work. With sophisticated sensors, electronics and new materials and manufacturing techniques a part of today’s cars, collision repair shops that are content with being just average will soon find themselves below average.