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Wednesday, 31 December 2008 05:44

Esperson --- Accurate Information from One Source

Written by Dan Esperson

With a large amount of questionable information circulating within the collision industry, it is surprising that damaged vehicles can be repaired to a consistent standard. Accurate information is the key to providing excellence in service to our customers.

    The dictionary defines a “standard” as: “A means of determining what a thing should be. Standard applies to any definite rule, principle, or measure established by authority.” Based on this definition, I ask myself:

    How should things be?
    What are the rules or principles?
    What are the measures?
    Who is the Authority?
    Where would I turn to answer these questions?

    Vehicle manufacturers are the highest authority for correct repair information, procedures and practices. They design it, develop it, test it and deliver it.
    Most current information gathering techniques are chaotic, time consuming, costly and confusing. This does not have to be the case. Each time you are faced with a technical problem, ask yourself what it would be like to have access to all of the manufacturers’ published material at a moment’s notice.

    Access to accurate and affordable information is a dilemma for insurers, as well as collision repair facilities. Many collision shops are turning to insurance direct repair programs to enhance revenue and grow business. But as more people become directly involved with repair decisions, the issue of accuracy is even more critical. Now there is more than one opinion to consider.

Take Guesswork Out of the Picture

The manufacturers’ repair information in ALLDATA Collision can lead to a positive outcome and ultimately benefit the repair facility, the insurer and the vehicle owner.

From an ESTIMATE standpoint:
1) With factory information available, proper repair methodology will be reflected on the estimate.
2) Correct parts will be ordered and replaced due to published manufacturers’ recommendations.
3) Proper replacement procedures will be followed, including: full or partial outer/inner panel replacements; full or partial frame components; applicable adhesives, sealants and coatings; and more.
4) Accurate factory-correct documentation will eliminate or decrease unnecessary, time-consuming communication.
5) Correct documentation will now be available to the insurer to validate the repair plan.
6) Supplements may be decreased when correct repair procedures are incorporated into the estimate upfront, prior to the start of repairs.
7) Unrelated prior conditions may be revealed through manufacturers’ Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) or Recalls when the vehicle first comes in.
    The estimate will reflect factory-correct mechanical operations and labor times. This information may not be available to shops and insurers with current estimating systems.

From a PRODUCTION standpoint:
1) Correct factory repair documentation will be available to technicians prior to repair processes. ALLDATA Collision eliminates the guesswork.
2) Factory repair data will be accessible at the time of teardown, ensuring the correct procedures will be estimated, documented and filed.
3) Technicians can access correct, up-to-date, procedures, making repairs to current standards with fewer mistakes.
4) Access to manufacturers’ repair procedures means fewer damaged or broken parts. Technicians can successfully disassemble parts that may be unfamiliar.
5) Constructive negotiations, based on correct repair processes, can now take place between insurer and technician/production manager.
6) The production team can access and verify that estimated repair practices are correct.
7) TSBs can be accessed to reveal known issues on the vehicle.
8) Manufacturers’ procedures can help reduce training for specific repair operations.
9) Correct identification and repair methods for advanced steels and other materials can be substantiated.

From a business standpoint: KPIs will ultimately be enhanced, including:

1. Cycle Time

● With factory-correct repair information available, correct parts are ordered upfront, which means fewer parts returned, less sourcing and minimal downtime.
● Vehicles will not stop in production due to broken parts, subletting, authorizations, additional and unnecessary supplements and improper repairs.
● Questions can now be answered that will affect accurate production criteria:
► Does this vehicle need frame replacement or sectioning?
► Is the damaged area within factory tolerances/dimensions and can it be straightened?
► Should we sublet this repair or will manufacturers’ information allow us to save time by repairing it in the shop?
► Do we have the correct tools and equipment to repair the vehicle properly?

2. Efficiencies/Productivity

● Documentation and availability of factory repair procedures prior to production will allow technicians to streamline hands-on repair practices and minimize errors.
● The technician can spend more time working on the vehicle instead wasting time gathering repair information that may be questionable.
● Shops can perform repairs once out-sourced:
    ► Suspension and steering operations
    ► Electrical systems
    ► Hybrid systems
    ► Air bags systems
    ► Collision avoidance systems

3. Overall Average Severity or Cost of Repair

Balance scale
I call this category the “balance scale.” On one side we have the insurer, whose objective is to keep claim severity under control. That, in turn, allows them to pass on the savings to the consumer. On the other side is the collision repairer, whose main goal is to capitalize on gross margins and profitability by cultivating as many sales as possible.
    The middle or balanced area would be one where both the insurer and collision facility negotiate a cost-effective, accurate and safe agreement that benefits both parties, as well as the customer.
    Here’s how the manufacturers’ repair procedures in ALLDATA Collision can help:

1) Reduce timely and costly sublet operations by keeping the vehicle in the repair facility.(I have the instructions to repair this system now.)

2. Reduce rental costs by reducing cycle times. (I don’t have to stop this vehicle in production and extend rental days, because I now have the proper repair plan to keep the repairs moving.)

3. Allow for correct billable repairs (I can now show proper factory-published repair steps, charges and documentation that are not available in other systems.)

4. Increased efficiencies and overall productivity (My hands are now kept on the vehicle more because I have the proper procedures at the start of repair, rather than during it.)

Customer satisfaction or CSI
Accurate, factory-correct information from ALLDATA Collision enhances customer satisfaction

● “I can explain to my valued customer that we are repairing their vehicle to OEM repair guidelines.”

● “I can show my customer OEM repair documentation, technical service bulletins and recall information that may help them with other areas of concern on their vehicles.”

● “I can deliver the vehicle to my customer as promised because I have reduced time-wasting mistakes thanks to manufacturers’ repair instructions.”

● “I have established or enhanced professional credibility with the insurer by providing factory-recommended guidelines and repair techniques.”

● “We have conformed to OEM repair guidelines, allowing me to manage liabilities and accurately document the repair.”

Maximum productivity benefits all
Make a positive impact on every aspect of your business by incorporating manufacturers’ collision repair information into your processes. For more information, please visit www.alldata.com/abn/001.

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