When the repair industry (later than most) finally moved into the 21st century and started writing estimates by computer, shops and insurance companies alike likened computerized estimating to the advent of the washing machine. Why a washing machine?

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

Some of you might be old enough to remember the days of washing your clothes by hand. Although I never had the pleasure, I recall my parents talking about the painstaking process of washing clothes in a bucket when they were kids. It was an arduous process that consumed a lot of your time if you did it right.

I did write estimates by hand and I can assure you that it too was a long painful process. What made handwritten estimates worse was having to go back and try to translate what you scribbled while clutching a clipboard.

If you are a member of Generation X or Y (or any other letter of the alphabet), you probably can’t relate to these old-man war stories. That said, I will try to offer a correlation you can appreciate. That’s what we’re supposed to do with the younger generation, right? Entertain them and cater to them and give them a ribbon just for participating even if they finished in last place. So for them: Handwritten estimates is like having to get up and change the channel on the TV because you can’t find the remote control.

Published in Insurance Insider

by Greg Horn, Vice President
Industry Relations Mitchell International

When we created the Mitchell Collision Parts Price Index (or MCPPI) a few years back, it was to serve as a barometer to measure parts inflation both in aggregate and split out by part type and vehicle country of origin. The MCPPI was created with the Consumer Price Index as its model as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is best known to most Americans as the general rate of inflation.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

The CPI is one of the most closely watched economic indicators because it tracks the rate of inflation for a wide sampling of goods we routinely buy. Just in the way the CPI measures a “basket” of goods and services and compares the prices month to month. This basket contains hundreds of different types of goods and services ranging from the inexpensive to very expensive.

In creating the Mitchell Collision Parts Price index, we used a similar approach of taking a collision ‘market basket. We selected the top 20 most replaced collision parts for the following categories: Hood, fenders, headlamps, turn signals and side marker lamps. We pulled data from 2003 through the third quarter of 2011. We then created weighted average prices for these parts in aggregate, setting the base year at 2003 and equal to 100. This allows us to compare inflationary trends by part type. All part types are retail prices, in the case of LKQ/used parts, are calculated with the mark up included in the pricing.”

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS
Thursday, 26 January 2012 20:53

Creating A Readable Advertising Piece

I recently received an advertising booklet in the mail. Most of the ads in the booklet were for local cleaners and various personal and home services. There was also one ad for a collision repair shop, but the shop was located many miles from my mail service where I received the booklet.

To view a PDF of this article please click HERE.

The shop owner had obviously been pressured into buying an ad that was being delivered far out of his effective neighborhood. And even worse than that, it was buried in a booklet that is mostly read by housewives looking for household deals at local businesses. The shop’s ad didn’t even have a coupon that might have gotten at least a couple of people to notice it. The odds of the shop getting a single job out of this ad were probably as remote as the chance of winning the Publisher’s Sweepstakes.

Unfortunately, even if this ad had appeared in a newspaper or other widely read publication, it was still unlikely to get many people reading it. There were several reasons for this. First of all, most of the print was too tiny for mature readers to read without a magnifying glass. In a space three and a half inches wide by one-inch deep, fifty-two words were crammed closely together. The shop owner had probably provided the advertiser with a list of services he wanted included in the ad. Ad sales people just want to sell the ad. They’re practically never professional ad design people, so they’ll cram anything into the ad the buyer says he wants.

There could have been more space for showing the shop’s many services if half the ad hadn’t consisted of a huge photo of a late model new car.

Published in Tom Franklin

Forty automotive professionals were recognized on November 16, 2011, at the Fall board meeting of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) held at the Marriott City Center in Charlotte, NC.

The annual awards banquet spotlights top scorers on the ASE Certification Tests. Thirty different companies from both OEM and Aftermarket segments sponsored the individual technician recognition awards in the Auto, Truck, Collision and Parts categories, along with three instructor awards. In addition to looking for top scores on ASE tests, award sponsors examine on-the-job excellence, community service and other factors when selecting honorees.

This year’s celebration in Charlotte was enhanced by a visit from five former Team ASE drivers, who volunteered their time to sign autographs and meet the award winners in person. NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Jason Leffler and Mike Bliss were joined by Ted Musgrave and Jimmy Spencer to help make the reception a memorable affair. In addition, there were two new award sponsors this year, one being the first ever from the military, representing the US Air Force.

“ASE has been honoring the best of the best in our industry for more than 30 years, and this year we recognized forty outstanding individuals from all across the nation,” said Tim Zilke, ASE President & CEO. “We couldn’t do this without the support of our many award sponsors, whose ranks include some of the best-known names in the industry. Their commitment to excellence is reflected in the talented individuals we recognize each year.”

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 22:19

NY Dealers Add $25B to Economy, Report Says

Dealers’ success this year seems to be spurring economic recovery along, at least in the Empire State. According to the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, franchised dealers in the New York metro area sold 403,000 new and used cars.

And as a result, their businesses injected $24.9 billion into the economy, while also providing nearly 56,000 Americans with jobs. Not a surprising number, when the study also showed that the average dealership employs 79 people.

These very same dealers also generated $1.71 billion in tax revenue to state and local governments last year

Commenting on these numbers, Mark Schienberg, president of GNYADA, said, “Our area’s auto dealers are an enormously important part of the local and state economy because of the revenue they generate and the jobs they produce.

“Directly and indirectly, greater New York’s franchised auto dealers provide nearly 56,000 jobs to area residents and are a key part of the region’s economic growth and development,” he added.

Moreover, the average dealership paid more than $4.1 million in payroll expenses. Besides providing jobs and selling cars, dealerships also pump money into the economy through advertising.

“An average dealer employs 79 people of which more than a third are in high paying jobs in the service department. Dealers also purchase more advertising than any other sector, providing a lifeline to many local broadcast, print and online media companies. Last year, area dealership advertising totaled $385 million,” said Schienberg.

The local economy also received another $253.6 million during the New York International Automobile Show. And nearly $24 million of this pot was formed by city-wide special events and public relations activities by OEMs, the organization noted.

“It {the report} includes a review of direct and indirect employment, personal income, tax collections generated by area automobile dealers and a review of dealership financial statistics and operations,” they continued.

Headquartered in Whitestone, N.Y., the GNYADA represents nearly 600 franchised automobile dealerships in the metro area of New York.


Federated member Hovis Auto & Truck Supply has opened its new Hovis Technical Training Center located at 1000 Champion Drive, Mercer, PA.

The 10,000 square-foot hands-on training facility is equipped with the most advanced tools and equipment and is dedicated to instructing professional service technicians about time-saving and problem-solving techniques. The center offers a fully equipped body shop with mixing rooms, prep deck and oversized paint booth, a 14-foot overhead door for heavy duty truck access as well as four-post and two-post lifts, a wirelessalignment machine, tire changer, balancer and diagnostic labs.

“The Hovis Technical Training Center is committed to educating automotive, paint and heavy duty truck technicians in a state-of-the-art facility, close to home, reducing shop downtime and travel expenses,” says Curt Hovis, vice president of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. “We recognize the critical need to provide technicians with comprehensive instruction, technical materials and educational programs, and we understand they don’t want to travel across the country to get it. That is why we are bringing leaders in the industry to western Pennsylvania.”


The inter-high school automotive repair course for Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley High Schools in Wayne, NJ, won $10,000 in cash and supplies in the Why My High School Auto Shop Needs a Make-Over national contest at the end of January.

Students in the course created, edited and entered a video for the contest. Students from both high schools are enrolled in the course, the only one of its kind in the district where students from one school travel to another to attend class.

The video received 2,483 votes on Facebook, good for second place and only 118 votes more than the third-place winner.

The first-place school received 3,320 votes. More than 100 videos from schools across the country were submitted. Eight were named finalists.

The Universal Technical Institute Foundation (UTI), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to support technical education in the transportation industry, sponsored the contest.

The schools' program will receive $5,000 worth of products from Snap-On, a manufactured of automotive repair tools and equipment, vouches for tires from Bridgestone and Firestone, and cash as their second-place winnings.


Mitchell, a San-Diego-based provider of technology, connectivity and information solutions to the Property & Casualty claims and Collision Repair industries, announced the winner of Mitchell’s Get-a-Life Dream Vacation contest held in 2011.

Mitchell’s RepairCenter™ team presented Gabrielle Kephart of Wicklunds CARSTAR and Glass in Liberty, MO with a check totaling $5,000 in late December 2011, for an all expenses paid trip to Maui, Hawaii. RepairCenter is the industry’s first Shop Workspace™ solution that manages the repair, the customer, and the business, all from a single personalized workspace, helping body shops manage their businesses so well that they have time to “get a life.”

“Congratulations to Wicklunds CARSTAR for winning Mitchell’s Get-a-Life Dream Vacation,” said Jim O’Leary, Mitchell’s Vice President of Repair Solutions. “We are pleased to empower shop employees to ‘get a life’ by simplifying every aspect of complex auto collision repair business environments. Mitchell’s RepairCenter auto shop management software streamlines key repair processes to help body shops be more efficient.”

O’Leary added, “We believe that a trusted partnership―founded on listening, responsiveness and collaboration―is the cornerstone of Mitchell’s and our clients’ success, and we will continue building on the value we deliver to the collision repair industry.”

Published in INDUSTRY NEWS

The CA/NV/AZ Automotive Wholesalers Association (CAWA) announced their response to a letter of opposition to “imitation” or aftermarket crash parts legislation written by the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, CA New Car Dealers Association, California Autobody Association and Consumer Attorneys of CA to CA senators and assembly members on December 5.

The letter sent by these organizations to their senators and assembly members states; “The above-identified organizations and signatories write to inform you of their collective opposition to legislation that promotes non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) crash parts as the functional equivalent of OEM parts. [Nonoriginal Equipment Manufacturer (Non-OEM) crash parts are parts made by a party other than the original car manufacturer without the dimensions, design specifications, tolerances or other information known to the original equipment manufacturer.]

“Existing law requires insurers that compel consumers to accept non-OEM parts when vehicles are repaired to inform consumers that “imitation” parts will be used and to warrant the “imitation” parts are “oflike kind, quality, safety, fit and performance” as OEM parts. For years, the insurance industry and off-shore, aftermarket parts industry have tried to weaken the law so they may compel unsuspecting consumers to accept inferior non-EOM parts.
“We support existing law and oppose efforts to weaken it for the following reasons:
● Existing law promotes disclosure and fair repair practices.
● Too many non-OEM parts are clearly inferior to OEM parts. For example, see the Bureau of Automotive Repair study on this issue. Also, Consumer Reports has debunked the argument that aftermarket “tin” parts are comparable to OEM parts.
● Use of non-OEM parts may impair warranties and reduce the value of used vehicles.
● Vehicles are increasingly complex, designed to dissipate crash energy by collapsing as engineered, and rely on multiple sensors to immediately deploy airbags upon contact. The use of “imitation” parts may impair these highly-integrated functions and endanger passengers.
“If approached to author legislation to unfairly promote the use of “imitation” crash parts, please contact us. We request the opportunity to discuss this important consumer protection issue with you before introduction.”

Published in WESTERN NEWS

The National Auto Body Council (NABC) held their annual golf event fundraiser on  January 11, 2012, at the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort in Palm Springs, California. A total of 133 golfers registered for the scramble format. The event was able to raise $55,000 this year and was held in conjunction with the NABC’s open board meeting, which took place the previous day, January 10, as well as the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), which took place January 11, 12, 13.

The annual fundraising event plays an integral part in providing the resources that support the organization in its mission of improving the image of all dedicated collision industry professionals because it is a major source of funding for the group. Not only does it help NABC implement the programs and activities that define it and give shape to this purpose, it helps reduce the cost of NABC’s programs for participants, making them more affordable.

The fundraising committee comprised of current NABC board members worked together throughout last year in setting higher goals and expectations for this year’s golf fundraiser, success that translated into additional revenue. “Every sponsorship opportunity available was taken advantage of and every golf slot was filled equating to the higher revenue,” stated David Merrell, NABC golf committee chair.

Published in WESTERN NEWS
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