Mike Causey (10)
With the average motorist filing an insurance claim every seven years, anyone, including shop owners, might benefit from some tips on how to approach insurance claims, especially if distracted in the heat of the moment.
According to the US Department of Transportation, about 255 million passenger vehicles are registered in the United States. Traffic congestion is a fact of life on most of our streets and highways. With all this congestion, combined with impatient, distracted, or reckless drivers, accidents are bound to occur. That keeps us in business, but it may be much more problematic for us as individuals in our own collisions.
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With more passenger vehicles than any other country in the world, the volume of traffic congestion on our streets and highways make it likely that you or someone in your family will be involved in an accident.
In my family, my wife, my mother and my niece were involved in separate traffic accidents recently.
The recent craze among businesses of all stripes is to use terms such as “green” or “organic” when marketing their respective goods or services. The trend has extended to industries such as collision repair, which is testimony to the marketing appeal of the process because automobile repair shops are often viewed as part of what some call a “dirty” industry.
What is the real definition of ‘Going Green?’ According to one online environmental website: “Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.
That’s quite an ambitious definition, but who doesn’t want cleaner air and cleaner water? When it comes to taking steps to help the environment, small steps can make a big difference in each business.
Obviously auto body shops are not organic in the same sense as growing or selling food, and won’t advertise the “organic” label. However, the “going green” term is gaining ground with body shops from coast to coast, and, increasingly, customers appear to be taking notice.
Although many types of businesses now “paint themselves green” in their self-promotions and advertising, body shops going green seem to gain even greater attention from consumers.
In Clemont, New Jersey, Dan’s Auto Body has a truck with a billboard that reads, “Dan’s Auto Body has gone green. Call and see what we mean.” Dan’s Auto Body of New Jersey has been using waterborne paint for some time, as their truck billboard reflects.
In Dallas, Texas, Bodywerks, an 85,000-square-foot body shop that claims to be “the largest body shop in the U.S” (average repairs of 500 vehicles a month) became one of the first dealership body shops in that part of the country to switch from solvent-based paints to waterborne paints. Waterborne paints will likely be required in all U.S. body shops within the next decade since it is more eco-friendly and less toxic than conventional paint systems.
In Oregon, Ohio Community College (Owens CC) upgraded its auto body shop to “prepare students for environmentally friendly careers and teach students how to reduce harmful emissions with eco-friendly paint products,” as reported by WTOL television reporter Chris Vickers.
Owens’ “experimental green auto body shop is the first in the Midwest to feature BASF’s new waterborne basecoat technology which greatly reduces the industrial contribution of ozone,” says Vickers.
A BASF spokesman says waterborne is just as efficient as their solvent-based product while the water reduces the amount of harmful material by nearly 70 percent.
Some reports have suggested that waterborne paints cause fewer health problems such as headaches among workers and substantially reduce the amount of chemicals and fumes in the paint process.
Much of the state of California and some cities in Oregon and Washington require waterborne paints. Ford, GM and Chrysler use the waterborne paints. These waterborne systems are required through out Europe and Canada.
John Harris Body Shops, with several locations in South Carolina, is Going Green.
They have made it their “goal to leave a green footprint in South Carolina and help our environment. Constantly we are looking for ways to recycle our waste without compromising quality. This is one more reason John Harris Body Shop is the right place to have your vehicle repaired.”
John Harris Body Shop promotes that:
▪ 95% of all Cardboard is Recycled
▪ 95% of all plastic bumpers are recycled
▪ 95% of all scrap metal is recycled
▪ JHBS has equipped all office and technical staff with computers so paper files do not have to be generated
▪ All documents are stored electronically (eliminates file cabinets and paper storage)
▪ 100% of Steel and Aluminum wheels are recycled
▪ 85% of Batteries are recycled
▪ 100% of Paint Waste is recycled
▪ 75% Fluids such as antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid is recycled
Consider what you can do to help your shop become more environmentally friendly by taking steps to go green. Maybe you don’t want to get a herd of goats to mow your grass, as Google does at their corporate headquarters, but you can change your light bulbs to the more energy efficient ones and educate your workers about recycling, etc.
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It has been said that one does not realize the value of a good insurance company until one files a claim.
Insurers that have local agents that the policyholder can meet with “face to face” generally fare better than the “internet based” insurance policies, according to numerous autobody association surveys.
When it comes to insurance coverage for physical property damage, cheaper premiums are not always the best way to go. Remember that old adage: You get what you pay for!
As for the claims process for auto body repair, most claimants can use all the help they can get. The truth is that most claimants are simply not familiar with the process and all the pitfalls that many insurers place in their path.
The investment in a motor vehicle is significant for most people. Making sure the value of that investment is not diminished through poor quality visible repairs is important to most vehicle owners.
While not all insurance companies are guilty of “steering” customers to certain “preferred body shops” or demanding body shops cut corners to save a dime, most insurers do just that. The goal is to squeeze every penny they can to pay out as little as possible on each claim.
According to a recent New York Times report on the national health insurance debate titled Many small businesses can no longer afford to cover their workers, employer-sponsored group health insurance plans are foundering because of “soaring premiums.”
During the congressional hearings regarding national health insurance, insurers agreed to make some concessions. But only for individual private health insurance policies or the insurance plans of major corporations. The insurers “balked” at giving similar concessions to small business owners.
The insurers offered key concessions to make it easier for individuals to buy health insurance. Furthermore, the insurers, during the congressional hearings, said they will “sell policies even to people with pre-existing medical conditions, and to stop basing prices on how healthy or sick someone is.”
However, those same insurance companies “appear unwilling to give small employers the same break,” according to the NY Times.
Consumers and body shops alike can take heart in this victory over the oppressors of free enterprise and fair business practices.
The latest class action lawsuit, filed by ABAC charged that The Hartford “engaged in a pattern of unfair [business] practices” that violated Connecticut law. The jury agreed.
I just came across your March article about body shop TTY scams. We are a small body shop operating in Massachusetts and we too have received these calls. The first came in spring, the same story about an Escalade that was in an accident in Arizona that the owner wanted towed to Massachusetts for repair. (Big alarms start sounding! We try hard to send out good work but come on. There has to be 5,000 body shops between here and Arizona, get real!)
The farmer called his sons together and asked them to gather a stack of sticks and bring them to him. Then he tied the sticks into one big bundle, and told the boys, one after another, to take up the bundle of sticks and break it. His sons all tried in vain to break the sticks.
Several states have passed laws in recent legislative sessions to address issues such as steering and labor rates. Steve Regan with the Massachusetts Auto Body Association (MABA) stated, “There has been an enormous amount of success in the last three or four years on the state level with respect to collision repair legislation.”
How many times have you heard complaints from body shop owners about “low” labor rates?A Mississippi body shop owner said recently, “We’re losing our collective asses at the front door because we’ve quietly accepted our current situation as being beyond our control!” The main reason these labor rate complaints abound is rooted in the “arbitrary” rate setting policy of insurers. Body shop owners could clearly benefit from knowing what their labor rates SHOULD BE and posting those labor rates clearly for all to see.
When a body shop owner KNOWS the “cost factor” in his shop, then he knows the labor rate he MUST CHARGE. If the actual cost for body shop labor is sixty-dollars per hour ($60/hr), why not POST AND CHARGE sixty dollars per hour for body shop labor?