Color Compass leads the automotive refinish and specialty market distribution industries by providing sustainable and profitable business solutions.

Can Artificial Intelligence Enhance Your Collision Repair Business?

The technology is available, the choice to embrace it is yours.

Tom Bissonnette, executive director, Saskatchewan Association of Automotive Repairers (SAAR)

For me, business success is not just measured financially. Did I make a positive difference for my employees and my customers? How is my business viewed by our community in general?

I am very much a relationship guy rather than a business simply doing transactions. It drives me crazy when a business treats me like a transaction when their first words are, “How will you be paying for this?” rather than “How is your day going? What can I do to help you?”

Relationship-based businesses prioritize building trust and rapport with customers. In contrast to transactional interactions that focus solely on completing a sale, relationship-based businesses invest time and effort into understanding customer needs, preferences, and pain points. By fostering genuine connections, these businesses create a sense of loyalty and emotional attachment that transcends mere transactions. Customers are more likely to return to businesses where they feel valued and understood, leading to repeat sales and positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Having said all of this, I recognize that in some instances efficient transactional opportunities make sense. I like self-serve gas pumps, instant tellers, and self-checkouts that allow me to breeze through my daily tasks, especially when I am in a hurry. I often wonder what our body shop customers are feeling when our business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and sometimes we are closed over the lunch hour. How do they connect with us if they work the same business hours?

In this day and age of instant gratification from businesses like Amazon and DoorDash, where people can simply go online or use an app to complete a transaction 24/7, I am beginning to think that body shops need to examine how to develop a business that is based on relationships but has a transactional element that can further cement the bond between you and your customers.

Mike Anderson, owner of Collision Advice, recently highlighted his theme for 2024, which is “Success Today, Success Tomorrow.” He comments that the collision repair industry is behind in terms of technology. He went on to say that shops are overwhelmed with administrative expenses, which at one time were roughly 10% of gross sales, and now they cost at least 13.8% of total sales. He speculated that there must be a way for information providers to include OEM repair procedures into their databases to relieve some of the time and stress of reading through volumes of information. Mike suggests that less than 50% of shops actually research procedures due to a lack of time.

To add to this burden, he says that customers today are expecting shops to be available 24/7 with at least a Chat feature or phone number on your website. He suggests that customers should be able to book their own appointments online, similar to how you book for businesses like my chiropractor. On Sunday evening, I booked an appointment online at 9:00 p.m. for a 2:45 p.m. appointment the next day—easy peasy.

Ryan Taylor, the man behind Body Shop Booster, has some solutions to these challenges.

If you’re feeling like you’re drowning in admin work, Ryan’s team has been deep into the world of artificial intelligence (AI), joining forces with AI superpowers across the globe. The big idea? It’s to arm your shop with the tools to slash admin tasks by 35% by bringing AI into the mix for all that repetitive stuff nobody wants to do.

This is how you get to put the focus back on what’s truly vital—delivering outstanding customer service and ensuring repairs are done the right way, the safe way. With BodyShop Booster AI, your customer support goes to the next level—we’re talking about a system that picks up the phone anytime, day or night, and talks to your customers like a human, answering 95% of their questions. From estimates to scheduling, it’s all handled.

But here’s where it gets really cool: your customers can just upload a photo of their car’s damage, and AI, with its computer vision skills, will serve up a preliminary estimate on the spot. Based on what it sees, it will line up repair appointments prioritized by how banged up the vehicle is. And it doesn’t stop there. Booking rental cars and upselling services? Done and done. Keeping tabs on estimates and nudging those undecided customers? It’s all part of the package.

This isn’t just about cutting down phone calls or paperwork. It’s about transforming your shop into a well-oiled, customer-pleasing machine and providing your admin staff with the AI sidekick they need. So, are you ready to level up? Because with AI, you’re not just fixing cars, you’re building a stronger, smarter business.