Pre- and post-repair scans are an SOP at Best Body Shop. Owner Clay Hoberecht added the Mitchell Diagnostics system a little more than a year ago. (Photo By Chris Williams)Technician Cody Gates connects the Mitchell Diagnostics MD-350 scan tool for a post-repair scan. (Photo By Chris Williams)

Best Body Shop taps into scanning

Mitchell Diagnostics system is used for majority of pre- and post-repair scans, quickly shows its ROI

Wichita, Kan.—For Clay Hoberecht, owner of Best Body Shop, scanning has become just as important to restoring a vehicle’s crashworthiness as following OEM procedures.

“We are no longer just repairing bumpers and fenders,” he said. “The electronics that go into your vehicle help protect your life.”

So pre- and post-repair scans are now part of the shop’s standard operating procedures. He had been subletting them when he decided in February of last year to purchase a Mitchell Diagnostics System. But before he pulled the trigger on the new purchase and bringing more of the work in-house, he crunched the numbers on what his return on investment would be.

“At the time, I was looking at three pieces of equipment: a resistance spot welder, a scan tool, and a measuring system. Any good business owner goes through and runs the numbers on what their ROI would be. When I ran the numbers on all three, the scan tool ROI was high enough to pay for both of the other tools faster than anything.”

He thought at first that he’d made a calculation error, but he again looked at the average number of cars they’d been seeing and figured out what the payback would be. He came to the same conclusion.

“So I looked at Barb, my wife, as we were running the numbers, and I’m like, ‘Get that tool here today.’ It was a no-brainer.”

Hoberecht said he is able to scan and diagnose about 90 percent of the vehicles his shop sees, with that number increasing as Mitchell adds more vehicles to the database. He charges an hour of mechanical labor each for pre- and post-repair scans, and he investigated a number of scan tools before settling on the MD-350.

“I’m a firm believer that there is not one scan tool available that can do everything,” he said. “But when Ementi [Coary, his Mitchell representative] introduced it to me, he promised me it would do about 75 to 80 percent of what I do.”

Hoberecht has since found that number to be even higher than that as it continuously updates over the Internet to include more models.

“You can tell on the other side of the company, these guys are working on this consistently and quickly. It isn’t a product that is just sold to me with hopes and dreams.”

Easy integration between the Mitchell Diagnostic System and Mitchell Connect, the function used to receive assignments from and send estimates to insurance companies, was a “huge reason” for selecting the tool, but moreover, “I’m just sold on Mitchell as a company, period,” he said. “Because I believe we speak the same language. Whenever I talk to Mitchell, they consistently talk about repairing cars correctly and having the documentation that you repaired the car correctly.”

The MD-350 connects wirelessly to the OBD-II port so it can be scanning as photos are taken and estimates are written, communicated to the Mitchell Estimating system.

A simple monthly cost structure with an unlimited number of scans was another plus, especially as staff performed practice scans on their own vehicles to become familiar with the tool and its usage. Mitchell training was simple and quick, with an hour or so over the phone as a Mitchell representative remotely connected to the shop’s computer to walk staff through the tool’s operation, which is simple, Hoberecht said.

For certain instances, particularly for German makes or where ADAS or module calibration is required, Hoberecht will turn to Travis Wulf of Mobile Diagnostics and Programming LLC. In the instance of an insurance company balking at the scanning fees, or for niche marques such as Porsche, Hoberecht said he sends the car to the dealership marking it up 25 percent.

The MD-350 has the ability to calibrate new modules, but Hoberecht said the shop hasn’t spent the time to train the technicians to use more of the tool’s capabilities.

“For me, it’s a manpower consideration,” he said. “It scans the car, we can see which controllers are read, which ones are unread, and at that point with my technician, I can make a decision if that was a good enough scan, or if we need to bring an extra tool in.

“For some makes, such as General Motors, we have no problems. But if we run into something where it scans 46 controllers, but it didn’t read six, and one or more of those is for the restraint system, then I’m probably going to bring in an OEM tool in for the post-scan to make sure everything is correct. If the car is in for a front bumper scratch, and the controller it couldn’t read is for a seat warmer, I’m probably not going to sweat over that one.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.