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.
I have a passion for what I do. I love my job because I welcome the challenges that the collision industry creates. I am never bored. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been in a battle all day, either with an employee, an insurer or even the customer, but I never find the day-to-day business activities tedious. Some days I could easily erase from my memory, but overall I like the challenges that must be overcome to survive this crazy industry.
The collision repair industry has reached a point where enough is enough. Shops have been watching their bottom lines drop to a point that is becoming dangerous. The insurers are so accustomed to getting something for free that when there is a legitimate charge, they make us feel as if we are the ones that are being unreasonable by asking them to pay it.
When I first began writing articles I was a body shop owner blowing off some steam. I sent it off hoping someone else out there felt the same way. As things turned out I was not alone, I’m now a columnist for Autobody News, and in a position of “Industry advocate.” [Photo: Lee and Sheri Amaradio outside the California State Capitol]
The insurers have a dilemma; they can’t raise their policy prices in California but must keep their profits up to keep their stockholders happy. They need to run a tight ship and find savings where ever possible. As owners, we also have a big dilemma – raising our prices to keep our profits up. So while insurers still think that cutting the cost on our end is a way to maintain their profits, we are continuing our downward spiral.
Truth: Conformity to fact or actuality, A fact that has been verified.
Honesty: Freedom from deceit or fraud.
Integrity: Soundness of moral character, honesty.
I’ve always taken pride in my business. Being a business owner and being my own boss is something I not only appreciate, I cherish. Making my own decisions became important to me early on in my life, but I knew that to have the freedom I wanted in my future, I would have to earn it. Owning a business has its rewards, but there is a price to pay.
Today’s “industry standard” is rapidly becoming the industry substandard. This new substandard is becoming the norm and the so-called “measuring stick” that all other repairs are judged by.
People often contact me asking what they can do to help fix our industry. More often, though, people contact me just to complain and tell me what needs to happen. They are more than willing to root for me, but don’t want to get their hands dirty. I can’t fix your problems alone. You need to step in and step up.
When I was a kid I used to love to get ice cream at 31 Flavors—the best, most expensive ice cream around. Normally our family would go to Thrifty Drug Store to get double dips for ten cents each. 31 Flavors was a real treat with more choices Plus, their ice cream was so expensive, we rarely went there.