Thrive, don’t just survive
Mulvane, Kan.—Asked what his secret of success was, hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”
Mike Anderson, of Collision Advice, has adopted the Gretzky philosophy as his theme for 2019. “Thriving and not just surviving” in changing business conditions requires looking ahead and adapting, said Anderson, who was the featured speaker at the inaugural Kansas Auto Body Association (KABA) Trade Show, April 26 and 27, at the Kansas Star Casino.
KABA, formed in the spring of 2018, attracted 145 attendees and 25 trade show vendors to the event. President Jeff Oldenettel, manager of Eddy’s Body Shop in Wichita, said he was pleased with the turnout and “proud of the team.”
To thrive or survive?
Depending on their business model (DRP-driven, consumer-driven, or OEM certified program-driven), collision repairers serve as many as three entities, Anderson said.
“Whether you are DRP or non-DRP, you have to serve the consumer,” he said, noting that if a shop’s business decision is to pursue additional DRP business, “I’m fine with that, as long as you’re making safe and proper repairs.”
Consumers want trust, empathy, and direction, while insurers want service, speed, and accuracy, and OEMs want safety, protecting the brand and brand loyalty, and using OEM parts, Anderson said.
ADAS has caused claim severity to rise because of needed calibrations and the replacement of more parts — such as a quarter panel or bumper — that can no longer be repaired because of how they affect blind spot monitor operation. (Anderson predicted that future sales of such parts will be restricted to shops with calibration capabilities.) Insurers can’t appreciably reduce severity, he said, so to remain profitable, they are placing more focus on policyholder retention and on the customer service they receive. Keeping the customer informed, with electronic means preferred, is critical.
“If you have CCC and you use Update Promise, then that’s the best means,” he said.
On-time delivery is also critical, but it’s most affected at the time the customer drops off the car, not from production delays.
“Unless we have done 100 percent disassembly, found out parts availability, and have insurance approval, we really have no idea when the car’s going to be done. We need to change the conversation our front-office staff has with the consumer when they drop the car off.”
He said a typical response to “When will my car be done?” could be: “‘Once we get your vehicle in, we’ll dismantle it, see if there is any additional damage, and then notify the insurance company. Once we do that, we will get approval and find out parts availability. We will call within the next 24-48 hours to let you know when your car will be done.’ See? I gave the customer a reply without giving them a date. And the date I gave them is when the next step is, not when the car will be done.”
Insurers also look for speed: cycle time and claims process, from the time the assignment was received from the insurance company to the first line written on the estimate.
“The reason this is important is the longer it takes you to get in touch with that customer and write an estimate, the insurance companies see a direct correlation with what they pay out in bodily injury claims,” he said.
And the longer a claim is open, the longer insurance companies must hold that money in reserve to settle the claim.
“So even if the car leaves and you don’t close the paperwork out by uploading the final estimate for three or four days afterward, it affects how long the money is in escrow.”
GM discusses Collision Repair Network
Sarah Booth, program manager of General Motors’ developing Collision Repair Network, gave show goers some preliminary details of what is “a comprehensive program designed to deliver an improved customer experience, post-collision, to improve customer retention and promote and support safe and proper repairs.”
GM is partnering with Mitchell International to manage enrollment, program KPIs, and site audits. To ensure compliance, Booth said inspection of the facility, tools, training, and equipment could be done through in-person audits or digitally via FaceTime or Skype. The usage of OEM repair procedures, quality-control processes, and pre- and post-scans will also be monitored.
“We’re crafting an extensive nationwide network of dealers and independent repair facilities that meet rigorous standards for customer satisfaction and repair quality,” she said adding that a marketing campaign is in development that educates vehicle owners on the benefits of repairing their vehicles through GM repair network facilities.
Next year’s event is penciled in to be in April, as well, though location is yet to be determined.