Over the course of the year, I receive comments and correspondence concerning the collision repair industry experience from shop owners and techs across the country. Below are some of the comments that have come across my desk.
Words, by which we live and die and conduct our business, have been sentimentally described as "pegs to hang ideas on," and "the thread on which we string our experiences." But one-time presidential contender Adlai Stevenson summed up the power of words as too often being "the great foes of reality."
Words are often "the great foes of reality." Some within the insurance and collision industries have pieced together words into terms that, defying reality, hide their true intent - or lack thereof. Following are a number of these, in addition to those we looked at in last month's article, that are foes of the reality they are intended to present.
There is the way “it should be” and then there is “the way it is.” Deal with the way it is and forget the way it should be. “It should be” will never benefit you; you will become bitter and cynical and could become distracted from the problems at hand.
I had an experience last week with what I call a “rogue supervisor”—an insurance company supervisor who is ignoring company policy and allowing his emotions to supersede his better judgment. It’s like a military commander having his own private war with no regard to protocol.
You Want How Much?
Do insurers really want to be educated in the proper repair techniques of collision repair, or do they just want it cheaper?
Last week I attended a meeting in San Francisco at the California Department of Insurance. This was a meeting I had looked forward to for quite some time. As the CRA’s president I was privileged to accompany some top shop owners as we made our case before the department heads. It’s too soon to know how successful the DOI will be with the evidence that they will be investigating but we did accomplish what we set out to do, and that is to establish the fact that there is a real problem and we need help.
I recently met with a gentleman who owns a body shop in Northern California. I was showing him around my shop and as we talked about how we processed cars and managed systems, the subject of labor rates came up. He was quite surprised at the labor rate difference between his shop and mine. While he was impressed with our shop, he wasn’t impressed by the fact that we were only getting paid half of what he was.
I write articles about our industry. I give shops my opinion on what I think they can do to turn this industry around because we need “change.” I have become an industry advocate and placed a well-deserved bull’s eye on my back. I will say what most other industry people only think.
Labor rate surveys were established as a starting point for negotiations. They are intended to create a floor to build upon, not a ceiling to keep prices artificially controlled. Today they are not serving any purpose other than keeping the cost down for the insurers. Insurers have even been bold enough to force the consumers to pay the rate difference when negotiations break down. It’s ironic because the code states that the burden of proof lies with the insurer, not the consumer.