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Stacey Phillips

Stacey Phillips photoStacey Phillips is a freelance writer for the automotive industry based in Southern California. She has 20 years of experience as an editor including writing in a number of businesses and fields.

 

She can be reached at sphillips.autobodynews@gmail.com. 

 
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 17:04

The Best Body Shops’ Tips: How To Train, Prepare for Negotiations

Written by
Keith Manich, director of collision services for the Automotive Training Institute Keith Manich, director of collision services for the Automotive Training Institute

Index

Keith Manich of the Automotive Training Institute (ATI) said collision repairers tell him on a regular basis that they often hear the word “no” when asking to be paid for required procedures associated with the repair plan, and that they “feel intimidated.”

 

As the director of collision services for ATI, Manich said shops might be told, “You can’t charge for that,” “I don’t care what the OEM says!” or “No one else charges for that.”

 

“Threats and intimidation are nothing more than a bully tactic or strategy,” said Manich, who trains companies on the “executive” side of the business, including how to deal with financials, managing operations and negotiations. Over the years, he has found that few shops have really good relationships with insurers. He said the key to achieve this is good negotiation.

 

During the 2017 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Manich explained how to set up a standard operating procedure (SOP) for negotiations during his presentation, “Preparing for and Conducting Negotiations for Collision Repairers,” as part of the SCRS Repairer Driven Education Series.

 

Manich stressed the importance of shops being prepared for negotiations with vendors and insurers in order to be successful.

 

“Negotiation successes result from preparation using consistent and repeatable processes and the discipline to use them effectively,” he explained.

 

Effective communication is also instrumental. His advice is to focus on the goal, use language targeted to the opponent and a positive approach in tone so he or she doesn’t feel belittled, and anticipate questions that may be asked.

 

“Both sides are looking at the same vehicle in two different ways,” he said. “One is looking at it as a profit center while the other one is looking at it as cost containment. It’s conflicting objectives from two sides.”

 

To reduce that tension, Manich said information and supportive documentation are imperative.

 

“The more information you can provide to whomever that party is that you are discussing this with---That is what will win the day for you,” he said. “We have to make sure that we’re providing the documentation that reinforces the fact that you made a decision for a good cause.”

 

According to Manich, doing this consistently, helps build rapport with insurance companies.

 

Manich outlined a long-term disciplined negotiation strategy for shops. The last five steps can be used in the short term and typically lead to a positive result.

 

1) Opportunity

 

First, determine what the negotiation is about.

 

2) Identification


Next, identify the goal the shop wishes to achieve as a result of the negotiation. Manich said developing (SOPs)will help direct the negotiation.

 

3) Frequency


Think through how often your shop will have to deal with the particular vendor/insurer.

 

4) Research


Find all supporting OEM information that could be used during discussions, as well as additional information that will help build a case for negotiation.

 

5) Preparation


Review all documentation in its entirety. Manich said that the opponent in the negotiation will most likely take a financial position. “They will typically be preparing the same way you do, but looking specifically at the cost of repair,” he said. An opponent may also take an irrational position, according to Manich. “Always remember that they have the checkbook, so they may make determinations based on that fact alone, not the repair requirements,” he said. The bottom line is to be prepared to provide as much information as possible to make a rational argument.

 

6) Execution


When countering data mining arguments, Manich said to keep in mind that insurers have the scope and scale to gather significant amounts of DRP data. “This puts the repairer at a disadvantage,” he explained. In order to build the execution plan, Manich said to remember that repairers provide this information through their estimates. “When things are removed from the repair plan for whatever reason, there is an ability to control that data,” he said. “It is then used against the repairer ‘showing’ that the repairer in fact doesn’t need it.”

 

An execution plan should include the following:

 

• Looking at the pros and cons of the position and determining if there is value in its pursuit
• Completing the negotiation planning worksheet
• Getting to know the opponent and finding out what makes him/her tick
• Looking at past experiences with that person or the company
• Asking others within the shop about their experiences
• Identifying supporting documentation
• Prioritizing the information
• Creating a folder containing the relevant documentation and providing it to the opponent
• Making an appointment to complete the negotiation activities
• Keeping the invitation formal because it’s a business activity

 

7) Packing of documents/materials


Manich said the powers of persuasion can improve the chances of convincing an opponent. These include having the facts on hand, as well as being credible, authentic and sincere during negotiations. The goal is to be compensated adequately for the vehicle. “The best interests of the customer are what we are responsible to communicate. Make the best choice for the car and customer, and back it up with documentation,” said Manich. “This will make sure you win the negotiation.”


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