If you can imagine Big Bird settling into a cozy yet busily productive henhouse - the aloof behemoth arrogantly fluffing its plumage as it wiggles its super-sized rear into a comfortable nesting spot, destroying everything the residents spent years producing, you can understand why thousands of productive small businesses become alarmed, outraged, even militant when Wal-Mart barges into their market area.
Clout is generated and precedents are put into play when shops work together with repair organizations that really have a heart for the concerns of the collision industry. But even more favorable results are possible when consumers are willing to go to bat for their rights, and for those of shops that encourage them to take a stand.
An independent (non-DRP) shop owner-friend recently told me their local shop association hosted a meeting to discuss the proliferation of Sterling shops in their area. He wrote, "A lot of major DRP shops showed up to voice very strong opposition to insurance company ownership of shops. What's interesting is the number of 'scared DRP shops' who think Sterling's arrival is the 'beginning of the end' for their businesses."
"Looking at your X-rays, your right hip is pretty shot… must be painful." I couldn't help noticing the way Dr. Jack looked at me sideways, sizing me up, a few gold crowns gleaming through a cryptic Rhett Butler sneer that, lacking only a cigar, would have pegged him a dead ringer for a used car salesman, not a surgeon.
The more I read about Wal-Mart - the world's largest retailer with its nearly $250 billion-and-rapidly-growing gross sales last year, and in its third year as #1 on Fortune 500's list - the more like the insurance industry they appear to be. In fact, one might wonder whether Wal-Mart is taking its cues from the insurance industry or vice versa.
Nothing makes me cringe - physically turning my insides to mush - like the squeal of tires in that desperate, futile, out-of-control second before an inevitable collision. Having cleaned up too many blood-splattered cars, I'm in favor of anything that would assure deathless, injury-less accidents. Collision Avoidance Systems, devices currently being developed and fine-tuned to minimize the frequency and severity of auto accidents promise to drastically change the way we drive. These will also greatly change the collision repair landscape.
As a guest speaker at the North Dakota Auto Body Association Annual Convention and Trade Show recently, it was humbling to note that North Dakota, with a fraction of my state's population and one-forth of its collision shops, had better attendance than did the state of Washington. I found these shops refreshingly positive about their future. I spoke about why shops should seriously consider getting off the DRP-train, and how to do it. Here are some of the highlights of that presentation.
My wife Bobbi and I recently returned from visiting the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Our daughter, Shannin, a costume designer who worked for L.A. Opera, and presently freelances on various movies, operas, and the like, had just finished assisting Madrid Opera in costume setup for Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades.
Some time ago I noticed the outside walls of our paint mixing room had never been painted. Interestingly, though we had occupied this building for close to 15 years, in which time I'd walked past this wall many thousands of times, I'd never noticed that when we built this building, being in a mad rush to get it up to production, we'd forgotten to finish a number of the final details.
One notable feature, common to many European landscapes, is castles and similar fortifications on distant hilltops. For many early peoples, these were their only means of resistance - the only thing that stood between them and certain enslavement, death, or much worse at the hands of marauders, warring factions, or conquering nations.
A wise person once said that if you are a collision shop owner who wants to purchase or learn about the new equipment, go to the trade show. But if you want to learn how to make money to pay for that new equipment, attend the CCRE's "Step Up To The Plate" Annual Convention, held at the Las Vegas Imperial Palace on November 4, 5, 6, 2004. This will be CCRE's biggest and best event yet. Check out the following lineup of pertinent seminars and their key speakers.
My parents were communicators - the kind that communicated more by their actions than by mere words. Needed correction was meted out quickly and in accord with the offense, and life was idyllic as long as we stayed within the well-established, well-known family parameters. But as a constant reminder lest one of us urchins challenge their authority, a leather strap hung from a nail on the left side of the doorway to our one and only indoor bathroom.
CCRE Update from NACE
The Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence Annual Convention, held in Las Vegas during NACE, far surpassed any previously held. Following a Thursday morning closed-door session for CCRE members only, attorney David Wattel presented a very convincing case for educating attorneys and consumers in pursuing insurers for proper repair of vehicles, and for collecting at least inherent diminished value.
"There's a sentiment in this business that has surfaced among the body shop owners who've been victimized by the current trends of commerce. While there are quite a few valid complaints with regard to direction of work, interference with the business of independent body shops, and manipulation of pricing and bids - all of which are very valid and in some cases actionable - there's a thread of entitlement that accompanies that state of mind… some shop owners declare that they have a right to a profit, which is fundamentally wrong.