AkzoNobel Automotive & Aerospace Coatings Americas (A & AC) hosted industry leaders on July 19th at the elegant Grand America Hotel (the only 5 star hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah) for the presentation of awards to the 2011 Most Influential Women in the Collision Repair Industry (MIW).  Five distinguished honourees were recognized.  The five comprise a cross section of service areas within the collision repair, from both the United States and Canada, including publishing, industry association, independent shops and multi-shop operations. 

The MIW program was established in 1999 by AkzoNobel as an industry honorarium. The goal of the program is to promote the contributions of key leaders as well as grow the future involvement of females within collision repair and raise awareness of their contributions as a valuable resource pool.

(l to r) Barbara Davies, General Manager & Co-Owner, Autobody News - Carlsbad, California; Sharon Mazanec, Collision Industry Business Consultant – Junction, Texas; Jennifer Justice-Hayley, Operations Mgr., Valley Paint & Body Inc. - Amelia, Ohio; Susanna Gotsch, Director, Industry Analyst, CCC Information Services Inc, - Chicago, Illinois; Michelle Rolls, Owner, Queensway Fix Auto Collision - Prince George, BC

AkzoNobel, through the MIW program, collaborates with the I-CAR Education Foundation to provide scholarships to deserving women seeking to advance their education and pursue career opportunities within the collision repair industry.  The annual $25,000 MIW scholarship has to date provided scores of students the ability to advance their careers.

The Q2 2011 Mitchell Industry Trends Report (ITR) contained a feature I wrote about how repairable estimates can best be executed, “Are You Measuring Your Auto Insurance Claims Metrics Properly?” I argued (persuasively, I hope) that defined metrics and a clear plan can help make your business great, achieving measurably better auto insurance claims processing outcomes in the process.

To view the full text of this article with photos please click HERE.

The key is to understand who your competitors are and if you can replicate their performance. Only then can you have an achievable performance improvement goal that allows you to focus on the person, part and process that can be improved.

Determining what is great estimating performance, and whether this great performance can be replicated, requires a large sample size to allow for a statistically significant evaluation. In addition, the ability to drill down and segregate vehicles by type, age and country of origin as well as factoring in the geography of the repair estimates are all necessary in order to truly have an accurate comparison.

Comparing your performance against the industry average by identifying the best performers isn’t a simple, mindless process, and nor is analyzing the data and setting performance benchmarks. Adding to the complexity is the constantly changing mix of vehicles coming through the repair process.

As an example of how specific metrics need to be in order to be meaningful, consider this—there can be more than an hour difference in labor time in Removing and Replacing a used bumper assembly vs. overhauling an existing damaged bumper system. That hour difference can be important in an area with extremely high labor rates.

John Yoswick has reported that Doug Craig, collision repair manager for Chrysler, said last week at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) that Chrysler, Ford and some other automakers are working to "commonize where we can" some of their "approaches to different repairs."

He said Chrysler also will be moving away from "recommendations" to instead offer much more specific "requirements on what process, procedure and/or components...should be used in a repair."

For example, Craig said Chrysler will often say a certain Mopar part number for an adhesive -- "or equivalent" -- should be used. "What is equivalent? That could take a chemical engineer to tell you," Craig said. "I'm sometimes amazed when I take things to our materials engineering folks and ask, 'Is this the same thing?' It turns out some of the snake oil isn't even close to being the same, even if the label or the product rep says it is. We're not trying to drive any costs in the repair. We're not trying to over-simplify repairs. We just want to take some of the judgment calls out of it, so the customer ends up getting an equivalent vehicle back."

NSF International has launched a new program to certify distributors who sell automotive aftermarket collision parts at the Collision Industry Conference annual meeting this July. The new NSF Automotive Aftermarket Collision Parts Distributor Certification Program is designed to close the gap in the supply chain between part manufacturers and body shops.

The Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) sponsored and worked closely with NSF to develop the new program to meet critical supply chain requirements, including parts traceability. The program meets the needs of collision repair shops, insurers and ultimately consumers, as it requires distributors to have quality management systems in place that address traceability, service and quality issues with regard to both certified and non-certified parts.

NSF certified distributors will be required to have records systems and inventory tracking systems in place that can track customer defective part complaints, trace a part to a body shop and trace a part sale. This gives the industry the ability to track all defective part complaints and trace parts from the manufacturer through the distribution channel to the body shop.

“For many years the collision industry has asked for an effective system to track and recall, if necessary, any defective safety parts. The new NSF Distributor Certification Program accomplishes that goal. The NSF program provides collision repairers and their customers’ peace of mind that certified distributors are focused on delivering quality parts and service,” said ABPA Board Chairman Dan Morrissey.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released the first comprehensive overview summarizing distracted driving research for state officials. The report considered research from more than 350 scientific papers published between 2000 and 2011.

GHSA produced the new report—Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do—with a grant from State Farm®. The report summarizes: what distracted driving is, how often drivers are distracted, how distraction impacts driver performance and crash risk, what countermeasures may be most effective and what states can do to reduce distracted driving.

“Despite all that has been written about driver distraction, there is still a lot that we do not know,” said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the report’s development. “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.”

The report outlines the following certainties:
• Distractions affect driving performance.
• Drivers frequently are distracted, perhaps as much as half the time.
• Drivers adapt to some extent: they pay more attention to driving and reduce their distracting activities in more risky driving situations.
• Distractions are estimated to be associated with 15 to 25 percent of crashes at all levels from minor property damage to fatal injury.
• Texting likely increases crash risk more than cell phone use.
• Cell phone use increases crash risk.

Hyundai Motor Co. raised its 2011 U.S. sales forecast to 624,000 units, representing a 16 percent gain from last year, the Korean automaker said June 30. Last year, the Hyundai brand's U.S. sales rose 24 percent to a record 538,228. Sales through May are up 29 percent to 263,588 vehicles.