CIC participants discuss data exchange, ‘Class A’ shop definition, training practices
Palm Springs, Calif.—The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) tackled a variety of topics at its biennial planning meeting in January, held in Palm Springs, Calif., with a new chairman and new committee plans.
At his first CIC as chair, Guy Bargnes, of Painters Supply (a Michigan-based paint and equipment jobber), shared what a recent CIC survey found were the issues on which CIC could have the most impact. Those issues, identified by more than 200 survey respondents, included vehicle repair procedures, technician availability and recruiting, insurer-repairer relations, and industry education and training. The Palm Springs meeting allowed CIC committees to share what they intend to do related to those and other issues over the coming year.
But Bargnes also highlighted several comments and suggestions from the survey that stood out to him. One respondent noted that attending the meeting can be expensive for educators, so Bargnes said he worked with the CIC administration to ensure all future meetings are open at no charge to collision repair instructors.
He said he was also struck by a suggestion to change how the CIC chairman is selected because it “inhibits younger people, 45 and under, from being selected.” (Throughout much of CIC’s 33-year history, the chairman has been selected by a committee consisting of the previous CIC chairs.) Without going into detail, Bargnes said he concurs that “the process needs some attention” because “this industry is moving young people along, and they need to have a seat at the table.”
Bargnes also cited another response from the survey that urged CIC’s leadership to “stop making everyone comfortable; an uncomfortable discussion means we’re getting somewhere.” Bargnes said the CIC helps participants become “information winners” by providing insights that CIC attendees from all segments of the industry can use to make better business decisions. But he agreed with the survey respondent that that doesn’t need to happen “at the exclusion of confrontation and healthy debate.”
Some of that sort of confrontation occurred later at the Palm Springs meeting when Frank Terlep, of Summit eMarketing Sherpas, gave an impassioned argument for a CIC taskforce or committee to address a recently announced shift in how shop estimate and customer data can be shared with shop management systems and third-party vendors such as CSI vendors, parts procurement systems, paint companies and rental car companies.
Though Terlep never mentioned CCC Information Systems by name, CCC last fall announced it would be ending in spring of 2018 the ability for the more-than-70-percent of U.S. shops using CCC’s estimating system to share estimate data using the “EMS” data export file. Instead, that data transfer will use the newer “BMS” data standard.
Terlep acknowledged the BMS standard offers a variety of advantages over the “ancient” EMS, which he said “ultimately should be replaced.” But CCC’s announcement should raise a variety of concerns for the industry, Terlep argued.
First, any business currently receiving EMS data “will have to spend real money, tens of millions of dollars, to redesign what they have today, by a false deadline,” Terlep said.
Second, a shop currently can use the EMS file to transfer data directly to any third-party it chooses; CCC’s proposed model requires that all those data transfers go through CCC.
“Every piece of estimate and customer data for 22,000 businesses would go through one company, one faucet,” Terlep said.
Third parties wishing to receive that data would be required to sign an agreement that says their access to that “faucet” can be denied or rejected “at any time, for any reason,” Terlep said. That means CCC would ultimately have control over which companies have access to CCC estimate data.
“What logical business person would build a business around an agreement that says, ‘I can put you out of business at any time for any reason,’” Terlep said.
Lastly, there currently is for the most part no fee for the transfer of data using EMS. CCC has announced that it will charge a 50-cent per estimate fee to those accessing a shop’s estimate BMS data. Whether those fees would be passed along to shops isn’t clear. But Terlep estimated that a shop management system company would pay about $50 more a month than it does today for every $2-million-a-year shop using its management system. That $2-million-a-year shop would pay about $200 more per month if all the fees associated with its BMS data transfers to third parties were passed along to the shop, he said.
Terlep shared a response CCC sent when asked to participate in a panel discussion on the topic at CIC; it said CCC’s counsel “generally advises against participation in such meetings without appropriate antitrust controls applied, which may significantly limit the topics discussed.” CCC’s response said its website about the change (www.cccsecureshare.com) should “provide the necessary information to fully understand the program.”
Terlep concluded his presentation by asking whether CIC participants were in favor of creating a taskforce or committee to “do more due diligence” on the issue, something CIC participants voted overwhelming in favor of.
CIC also will vote this spring on another topic of some debate at the conference in the last 18 months. Over three consecutive quarterly CIC meetings in late 2015 and 2016, CIC’s Definitions Committee faced criticism from some CIC participants as the committee worked to revise CIC’s long-standing “Minimum Recommended Requirements for a ‘Class A’ Collision Repair Facility.” Some CIC participants disagreed with proposed changes to the definition, while others said they felt that changes in the industry, including the growth of OEM shop certification programs, had nullified the need for CIC to continue to attempt to define what equipment, capabilities, training and regulatory compliance practices distinguish superior repair facilities.
The latest draft of the revised definition, now labeled as simply the “CIC Collision Repair Provider Definition,” has been posted to the CIC website (www.CIClink.com). State Farm’s Chris Evans, who chairs the Definitions Committee, said that he learned just prior to the meeting in Palm Springs that the past chairs of CIC had discussed the document and decided to hold an up-or-down vote on the definition at the next CIC meeting, being held April 19-20, in Pittsburgh. Evans encouraged CIC participants to review the draft prior to that meeting.
CIC’s Education and Training Committee reported on the results of its survey into how much training collision repairers are typically getting each year. The survey of more than 100 shops that found that technicians, on average, are getting about 11.7 hours of training per year. Shop owners and managers report getting slightly more training (12.6 hours per year, on average), but estimators (10.6 hours) and administrative staff (7.4 hours) are getting less.
But Jeff Peevy, co-chairman of the committee, said he believes the survey is probably more representative of the “top one-third” of shops than the industry as a whole. If that’s true, he said, the amount of training the industry as a whole is getting is very little.
“I have this strong opinion that [the other] two-thirds are doing almost no training,” Peevy said. “Given that, we then are averaging, for technicians, less than four hours of training a year, as an industry.”