Every fleet vehicle has around one damage occurrence a year, and repair handling is an integral part of an operations manager’s daily routine. However, now that new vehicles are more unique and advanced than ever before, repairing car damage has gotten a lot more complicated. A lot of types or even specific makes call for a more specialistic approach, and can no longer be repaired by a body repair shop that doesn’t have the specific certification or equipment required to do so.

Why the traditional allocation methods are lagging

Generally speaking, operations managers have always handled every damaged vehicle similarly, and why not? The one-size-fits-all approach has always gotten the job done, and managers could trust that their vehicles would be repaired according to the required standards.

However, the automotive industry has developed at a rapid pace, and vehicles today are drastically different from the ones that were manufactured only a few years ago. Today, modern cars are built to be unique, contain all kinds of advanced technology and lightweight materials, and are no longer (entirely) reliant on fuel. These developments have led to body repair shops specialising in specific makes and repair methods by investing heavily in training and equipment. Body repair shops can no longer repair every damage or even make by default. And allocating repairs has gotten a lot more complicated, especially for businesses that are larger, more diverse, and not based in one area.

How operations managers can adapt

Traditional repair allocation methods don’t take the individual damage requirements or capabilities of body repair shops into account. When managers start looking at each damage occurrence separately and use the available capabilities in their network of repairers, they will become able to allocate each repair more accurately and reduce cost.

Handling car damage on a more individual level

When operations managers start keeping track of the technical specifications of their vehicles, they can better pre-assess what is needed whenever damage occurs.  For example, if a vehicle is electrically driven, the repairer always needs to take mandatory precautions to repair the damage safely. If the damaged part of the vehicle houses an ADAS sensor, it requires careful calibration after the repair is completed. And if the damaged part is made out of (or contains) lightweight materials, then there is a big chance the repairer has to resort to special tools or repair methods to get the job done.

Operations managers can ask themselves these questions to better determine precise repair requirements, and easily identify which body repair shops in their network are eligible to repair the damage. It is, therefore, important to know of the possibilities available in the repairer network.

Inventorying body repair shops in the network

When managers keep track of the specialisations of the body repair shops they work with, they can match each damage to a suitable body repair shop more accurately.

For example: If a vehicle has a scratch on a bumper that houses an ADAS parking sensor; and the manager knows a body shop in his vicinity that has the equipment to calibrate ADAS sensors; then it could be beneficial to send this specific repair to that body repair shop directly. This way, the repair can be completed more efficiently and less costly than by a repairer who (might even offer a lower hourly rate but) will have to outsource the calibration, raising the total costs and extending expensive vehicle downtime.

Naturally, when there are more repairers in the network that are specialised in ADAS calibration, the manager can benefit from comparing these shops.

How digitalisation leads to lower costs and reduced cycle times

Individual damage assessment and repair allocation does not seem feasible without the help of technology, especially for businesses that are either large, diverse, or active in multiple locations. It has become clear that the car damage repair allocation processes in place are no longer attuned to today’s needs. Managers should get inspired by the innovative automotive industry and look to the digital solutions available in their field.

Individual damage handling

Because every vehicle and damage is unique, operations managers can benefit tremendously from applying an individual handling approach. Managers can have all relevant information about the damaged vehicle readily available by simply indicating the damaged parts.

With the help of detailed photographs, advanced systems, artificial intelligence (AI), and historical data, almost every type of cosmetic damage can be pre-assessed digitally, making physical inspections no longer a necessity by default. This means that in most cases, managers can start focusing on allocating the repair directly.

Fixico’s data shows that 72% of all damage reports submitted to its platform were handled entirely digitally, without the body repair shop requesting a physical inspection to draft a quote.

Next to physical inspections, the repair is sometimes dependent on a cost calculation, usually in the case of more complex damage or when there is possible underlying damage. Repairers use external software to create a cost calculation. Today, these cost calculation systems can be integrated with repair handling software, and managers are able to share all relevant information of the damaged vehicle with the body repair shop automatically, and will no longer be dependent on waiting on (or paying for) external expertise.

Identifying the most suitable repair shop

By identifying the most suitable repair shop using technology, repair costs and cycle times can be reduced. Based on the characteristics and requirements of vehicles, and the capabilities of body repair shops stored in one cohesive and structured system, technology can identify the optimal repairer for each damage in seconds.

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