Different perspectives, similar challenges

The key message to emanate from two of the world’s leading repair organisations, speaking today at IBIS Global Summit 2018, was that despite the geographical differences, the challenges of collision repair remain central.

During the session, ‘Collision repair around the world’, Summit delegates heard from Michael Wilmshurst, chief executive of Nationwide Accident Repair Services Plc, and Frank Liu, CEO of Fix Auto China, on how their respective markets provided both opportunity and challenge in equal measure.

When asked to describe each company’s model of operations, Michael explained that Nationwide places an emphasis on the diversity of the repair solution where different problems need different methods.

‘We have a saying: sometimes you need a nurse, sometimes you need a doctor and sometimes you need a surgeon,’ Michael said. In order to repair correctly, a company must have the right equipment, and technology. Furthermore, Michael stated that it is important to ‘keep within scope’ and make sure you are capable of doing the job before taking it.

But talent is a concern in both markets, with Frank highlighting the lack of technicians within China’s industry. He pointed to efforts Fix Auto has made to implement training. Supported by government funding, Fix Auto China has invested in schools to train technicians. Frank said, ‘The goal was to set the bar for the industry in China, we are the future for the industry.’

Both agreed that, with the industry as specialised as it is, relationship-building is fundamental and that in order to repair cars safely and serve the customer well, companies must work together with an element of transparency. Frank said, ‘You have to build trust by showing transparency.’

They expect the pace of change to accelerate, with Michael saying that there is a drop in frequency from market share gains. ‘Vehicles that used to be written off are being repaired.’ He believed that the value of cars are going up, which means more repairs opposed to disposal.

Frank added that people now care more about the quality of repair than before. ‘The industry standard is being brought up, where more opportunities are being made,’ he said.

To conclude, both representatives were asked about the challenges being faced in the market. Frank claimed that the main hurdle within the Chinese market was the skills gap, where more training is vital. Michael concluded that the challenges for Nationwide was establishing trusting partnerships, more appropriate and cost effective solutions and satisfying every party involved within the market.

IBIS Global Summit 2018 is partnered by 3M, AkzoNobel, Audatex, Axalta, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Fix Auto, and Symach.