If you weren’t happy with the presents you got for the holidays, why not console yourself with the bounty of free stuff others in the collision industry have bestowed upon your body shop?
Building off similar articles from 2017 and 2018, 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.
Most of these are fairly self-explanatory, but we’ve added some notes for newcomers unwrapping these gifts 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. It also contains links to the three sets of P-pages and delivers free weekly tips.
“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 10 carriers in fact do “pay for that.”
Estimate Scrubber: EstimateScrubber.com lets you scrub your estimates for certain items gratis. It’s aimed at body shops and consumers.
OEM procedures and tools
OEM1Stop.com: A portal to many OEM repair procedure websites, curated by the automakers themselves. Also a repository of some — but not all — major position statements.
NASTF OEM repair procedure portal: Like OEM1Stop, another useful collection of links to official OEM repair procedure sites. Its list of brands is more comprehensive; for example, you can find links for companies like Tesla and Ferrari not present on OEM1Stop.
NASTF scan tool resource center: Get links and data related to factory scan tools or downloading official OEM software into a third-party “J-Box.”
ASA-Auto Alliance OEM Resource Center: Another free portal with links to OEM repair procedures and scan tool information.
I-CAR Repairability Technical Support portal: Articles discussing a variety of technical factors and links to many OEM repair procedure websites. 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.
NASTF Service Info Request: If necessary information is missing from OEM repair procedures — and you legitimately tried to look for it there — you can put in a request for the National Automotive Service Task Force to pursue it with the OEM.
Collision Advice “Learn to Research, Research to Learn” series: Collision Advice CEO Mike Anderson and OEM representatives teach shops how to navigate official automaker repair procedure websites in this 2018 series.
Collision Hub “Repair University: OEM Edition” series: The “Repair University” gang also taught viewers about OEM collision repair websites in a 2018 series. Given the importance of both the estimate and proper repair procedures to your business and your customers, it’s worth watching both sets of films.
Mopar Repair Connection: Free static PDFs of FCA collision repair procedures, useful to get a general overview of a vehicle and its structure. NOTE: You need the paid FCA service instructions for the actual repair.
Honda Service Express: The Body Repair Manuals (click on “Collision Repair Information” at left) are a great way to learn some of the broader collision repair concepts found in new Hondas. However, you still need to buy the official Honda procedures to perform the actual repair, and you can do that on Service Express too.
Toyota Collision Repair and Refinishing Training: Highlights include the free Collision Pros magazine, quick training guides and the “Painters Corner.” As always, you’ll need to buy and use the official Toyota procedures, but the site’s content should help get you more familiar with what you’ll see there.
Ford Crash Parts: Another particularly robust OEM industry-facing site. Make sure to read and subscribe to Ford’s free On Target magazine. While no substitute for the formal Ford repair procedures, the level of technical depth in some of its articles ought to particularly resonate with the team on the shop floor.
Collision Hub “Repair University” videos: The free, lively and educational series is often a must-watch.
SCRS YouTube channel: See a massive amount of free educational content, including footage from SCRS’ headliner OEM Collision Repair Technology Summits and Repairer Roundtables as well as the “TED”-like IDEAS Collide summit. Also, a lot of useful technical videos, including a recent series on test welds and welder maintenance, and films from the annual “Kool Tools” presentations.
Elite Body Shop Solutions’ free webinars. The company runs a series of free monthly webinars on various body shop topics.
VeriFacts Guild 21 webinars: Take the Guild 21 pledge and sign up for free monthly webinars on a variety of topics.
CIECAsts: The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association hosts free webinars periodically. Some involve the nonprofit’s data standards, while others involve broader collision repair subjects. You can see older CIECAsts on CIECA’s YouTube channel or the organization’s website itself. (Here’s the 2019 lineup, for example.)
The Seebachan interview: The Collision Industry Conference made a rare exception and permitted video coverage of one of its 2019 sessions: the powerful interview of John Eagle plaintiffs Matthew and Marcia Seebachan. It’s free on CIC’s YouTube Channel, and it should be required watching for every collision professional, insurance adjuster, industry vendor and vo-tech student.
Vendor technical information
Running your business
CCC “Crash Course”: Annual free overview of the industry, chock full of data to help you plan your business and career. (Hint: Change the year on the URL to see past editions.)
CCC monthly industry trends videos and PDFs: Bite-sized versions of “Crash Course.” Lead analyst and director Susanna Gotsch picks a couple of trends to spotlight.
Mitchell mPower/Industry Trends Reports information: Mitchell’s version of “Crash Course” and trend analyses articles. A running series finds Enterprise presenting length of rental data, which provides a way for repairers to benchmark their own cycle times, but there’s a ton of other valuable data here too.
Collision Advice: Anderson’s website has an incredible treasure trove of links related to the repair process, estimating and running your business.
RDN events calendar: Repairer Driven News offers a free interactive industry events calendar in addition to all of our free news coverage. Anyone in the industry is welcome to use it to share details of their association meetings, trade shows, job fairs, educational sessions, etc. for your peers to see and attend. Why not post an event today? The nearest three events appear on the RDN homepage as well.
Featured image: Tell us you don’t feel like this kid after reading our list of free presents the collision industry has given you. (Robert Kirk/iStock)