Q: Congratulations on the recent launch of Program Freedom. What are some of the benefits you can share about this initiative?
Rozint: I’m really excited about Program Freedom. The complexity in our industry continues to grow almost exponentially. As a result, carriers are attempting to process claims more efficiently, because the insurance industry is competitive like never before. They are constantly looking at ways they can improve their policy holders’ service more cost effectively, and that leads to pressure on the collision industry to deliver more efficiently. Now we’re trying to deliver better service and repairs in an environment where the vehicle complexity is going through the roof. Each year’s models bring new challenges with repairability, whether it is recalibrating computers, bonding techniques, riveting, substrates, etc. It’s getting more complicated to repair vehicles today, which is requiring more training, equipment and tools.
Program Freedom is based on Mitchell’s cloud-based estimating and communications platform. Repair facilities can choose to share data via EMS or BMS and decide which data fields are shared with each partner. We think this is fundamentally critical to the industry.
In the past, shops have had the ability to share data with whomever they wanted. I believe the industry has benefited tremendously from being able to do that. At Mitchell, we think it should remain that way because it has worked well for the past 20 years, spawning innovation along the way.
That’s what Program Freedom is about at its core---it’s an alternative where you can continue to share data with program administrators and service providers on your terms, without the limitation of proprietary protocols and closed data networks. We’ve also made a commitment to the industry that we are not going to charge transaction fees for running your business using our data.
We believe Program Freedom offers collision repairers a higher level of control over their business data. When one dominant provider has the ability to control business transactions and data, it creates an environment that stifles competition, pricing goes up, and service goes down. We at Mitchell wanted to provide an alternative to that.
Q: Can you tell us about the new Mitchell Technical Research Center?
Rozint: We’ve had a technical research center for years in San Diego, only a mile and half from our main office. We recently moved it to a larger space. We manage all of our data in-house. We build our own database for parts and labor and conduct time studies and research into repair methods and techniques. When new vehicles are introduced to the market, we take them to our tech center and use a very sophisticated 3D laser system to measure them. The car is put up on a hoist and scanned in detail, so we can generate super precise measurements.
We also have a training room at the 2,940-square-foot tech center where association meetings are held, such as the ones hosted by the California Autobody Association.
Q: What can collision shops expect from Mitchell moving forward?
Rozint: In the industry right now, it’s simultaneously challenging and exciting because there is so much change. I’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years, and the pace of change is greater than anything I’ve ever seen.
It’s daunting at times for many people, and I understand that completely because repairs are getting more complicated. I also find it exciting because there is a lot of change. This gives us the opportunity to do things more efficiently.
We have a new management team in Mitchell’s Auto Physical Damage Solutions division, led by Debbie Day, plus some veterans who have been with the company for 20-plus years. We have a nice mix of people who have been at Mitchell a long time with a serious injection of new energy. There are some exciting things on the horizon.
We’ve been able to accomplish a lot this past year and have a lot more coming in terms of the latest generation of technology. Everything we do is to support collision shops in making proper and safe repairs.