For this holiday, we thought we’d give you the present of directing you to the free stuff others in the collision repair industry are dying to give your auto body shop. (But don’t worry, we’re not adding our name to the card. That’s a jerk move.)
Here’s some goodies available free online — and they’re likely just the tip of the iceberg. (Apologies if we left your particular resource off the list; drop us a line and we’ll take a look at adding it.) This might be an expensive industry to join, but it’s also a very generous one.
Estimators — without whom nobody gets paid — are particularly lucky in terms of free resources, but the rest of the shop shouldn’t pass up the chance to use these free tools either. A better informed tech or shop is likely to make more money (a piece-rate tech, for example, can point out certain missing not-included procedures) and do a better job for the customer.
Most of these are fairly self-explanatory, but we’ve added some notes for newcomers unwrapping these for the first time.
The SCRS Guide to Complete Repair Planning: Are you really billing for everything you did on the vehicle? Find out what operations you’re probably doing but forgetting to include on your estimate — which means you’re spending the time but not being paid for that labor.
Database Enhancement Gateway: A great place for adjusters and repairers to “settle a bet” by asking the three information providers questions of how to interpret P-pages. Also, offer suggestions for how to make them more accurate or user-friendly.
ASA guides to not-included procedures on new and LKQ parts: Other items you might be forgetting. Also useful when making the business case to a customer or insurer that a new OEM part is actually cheaper overall to buy and install than an alternative because of the additional scut work on the latter.
I-CAR Repairability Technical Support portal: The answer to your technical question is probably found here. If not, there’s links to all of the OEM repair procedures websites and instructions about how to use them to find it. Much content is free, and I-CAR waives subscription fees to basically every responsible shop or tech making an effort to stay educated.
“Ask I-CAR”: I-CAR touts this as a speedy and effective way to get answers from an OEM on a technical question not clear from the repair procedures.
“Who Pays for What?” surveys: The results are free for shops. Prove that your shop isn’t the “only one” charging for a particular operation and that Top 8 carriers in fact do “pay for that.”
OEM1Stop.com: The definitive portal to all OEM repair procedure websites, curated by the automakers themselves. Also a repository of some — but not all — major position statements.
NASTF scan tool resource center: Get links and data to all the factory scan tools.
Collision Advice: Anderson’s website is a treasure trove of links like these to resources for shops.
Collision Hub: A lot of educational videos, as well as any “Repair University Lives” which were sponsored.
Genuine GM Parts: Free collision repair procedures. However, you still need the mechanical instructions and more dynamic collision repair procedures on the paid site to perform an actual repair.
Mopar Repair Connection: Free FCA collision repair procedures. Again, you need the mechanical instructions and more dynamic collision repair procedures to do an actual repair.
Honda Service Express: No free repair procedures, but the Body Repair Manuals are a great way to learn some of the key collision repair concepts Honda expects for its new vehicles.
Toyota Collision Repair & Refinish Training website: Besides all the CRIBS and TSBs, some great educational resources.
CCC “Crash Course”: Annual free overview of the industry, chock full of data you’d normally have to buy off CCC. Plan your business and career based on it. (Hint: Change the year on the URL to see past editions.)
CCC monthly industry trends videos: Bite-sized versions of Crash Course. Lead analyst Susanna Gotsch picks a couple of trends to spotlight.
Mitchell Industry Trends Reports: Mitchell’s version of “Crash Course.” Quarterly data includes Enterprise length of rental information — a good way to benchmark your cycle time — and details about those three months’ repair costs. Good for evaluating your business on a seasonal as well as annual basis. Also, average quarterly labor rates for key states.
Featured images: The collision repair industry has many free resources. (Tom Merton/iStock)