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Thursday, 27 May 2010 18:58

PBE Jobber: Friend or Ally?

This month we begin a new column in Autobody News which we’re calling Jobber Journal. Our first columnist/contributor is Richard Arnold. In future months we’ll bring you additional opinions and invite contributions from readers.

In my many years of working with a major PBE Jobber in the Southeast, I have observed that many of their shop customers undervalue them. Granted, a small minority of their customers totally understood the value jobbers brought to their shop. Over time I watched how this small minority of shops communicated with the Jobber sales reps and tech reps and used their knowledge and experience to grow their businesses. All the while the large majority of customers just kept on doing the same bad things over and over and getting the same poor results. Albert Einstein called insanity the act of “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I’m no Einstein, but I have to agree on his definition.

I believe a good PBE Jobber is a friend and ally. A PBE Jobber can be a shop’s best friend or vendor partner. I don’t mean “friend” because they give you the biggest discount on paint and materials. I mean “friend” in the true sense of the word. A true friend wants to see you succeed, prosper and be happy. The best PBE Jobbers want to see all of their customers succeed, prosper and be happy. When their shop customers do well, they do well. Make your Jobber your ally and partner.

The collision repair industry is changing at a faster pace now than ever before. New metals, waterborne coatings, lean production process, and multi-media marketing, just to name a few changes. A good relationship with your Jobber can pay big dividends. Consider them a member of your board of business advisors. Ask them for their thoughts and advice. Their answers may surprise and benefit you.

The U.S. Senate passed the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010” May 20. S. 3217, authored by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, aims to promote financial stability by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end “too big to fail,” to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, and to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices.

S. 3217, which has been amended since originally passing the Senate Banking Committee, establishes an Office of National Insurance within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The office will be headed by a director who is to be appointed by the secretary of the treasury. The office’s main functions will be:

• to monitor all aspects of the insurance industry, including identifying issues or gaps in the regulation of insurers that could contribute to a systemic crisis in the insurance industry or the U.S. financial system;

• to recommend to the Financial Stability Oversight Council that it designate an insurer, including the affiliates of such insurer, as an entity subject to regulation as a nonbank financial company supervised by the Board of Governors pursuant to Title I of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010;

• to assist the secretary in administering the Terrorism Insurance Program established in the Department of the Treasury under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002

Ford Motor Company is promoting that its vehicles cost less to repair, after a collision on average, than all other vehicles in their segments, according to a new U.S. government report based on insurance claims database. Auto insurance companies often factor in model-specific claims data in setting premium costs. Approximately 78 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models rated at or better than the industry average, nearly double Toyota's 40 percent (including Scion and Lexus), says Ford.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2010 Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information Booklet shows more Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles lead their segments for the lowest collision insurance cost than any other automaker.  The report will be available in all dealerships this spring to help consumers anticipate repair costs that insurers rely on for setting insurance rates.

Ford has 10 segments leaders, including Taurus, Focus and F-Series trucks, from the 2007-2009 model years, more than three times as many as Toyota and Honda combined.  The NHTSA ratings based on claim costs data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The following is a joint statement by the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA). The organizations are national and statewide membership organizations, respectively, of aftermarket service repair facilities and represent thousands of small business owners.

Recent public relations initiatives by AutoMD, a division of US Auto Parts Network, warrant a strong and clear response from the automotive repair and service industry. The company's recent activities include a press release ranking U.S. cities according to the "honesty" of auto repair facilities in each city, as well as a television segment on the CBS Early Show. In both of these PR efforts the company makes several claims and promotes a set of conclusions that are inaccurate and based on flawed logic and biased methods.

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) Parts Safety Task Force met with senior officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) April 28 to discuss automotive safety defects, ways to raise awareness of safety defects and aftermarket crash parts regulation.

Members of ASA's Parts Safety Task Force are Ron Nagy, AAM, ASA chairman-elect, Nagy's Collision Center, Wooster, OH; April Hernandez Miller, AAM, Hernandez Collision Center, Savannah, GA; Bill Moss, AAM, ASA Mechanical Division director, Ferris Automotive Inc., Warrenton, VA; Eddie Ehlert, Mazdonly Ltd., Chamblee, GA; and Bob Redding, ASA's Washington, D.C., representative.

Of interest for both parties is the increased accessibility of NHTSA's automotive safety-based website, www.SaferCar.gov. Among this website's many features is a tool for consumer complaints on automotive safety defects. The Vehicle Owner's Questionnaire (VOQ) form is used to measure frequency and severity of defects to determine if a recall is necessary. A common goal is to make the VOQ more consumer-friendly and well-known to encourage drivers to report problems. Further, NHTSA and ASA hope to create a compatible form for repair shops.

ASA sent a letter to NHTSA's administrator earlier in the year with regard to the regulation of aftermarket crash parts, stating: "As the new NHTSA administrator, ASA asks that you review why NHTSA does not regulate aftermarket crash parts. Voluntary certification of aftermarket crash parts has not succeeded in the collision repair industry. Congress has given NHTSA the authority to regulate these parts. We ask that NHTSA review its authority and begin an aftermarket crash parts regulatory program as soon as feasible."

ASA's task force also had meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss upcoming safety legislation being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently reiterated his praise for the success of last year's Cash for Clunkers program. This time, LaHood's comments came as a reaction to positive reports from the DOT Office of Inspector General and the General Accounting Office.

Federal officials believe Cash for Clunkers successfully completed its top objectives set out by Congress: stimulating the economy and aiding the environment through increased vehicle sales and reduction of older, less fuel-efficient vehicles on the roads. In fact, they contend the program resulted in a 60-percent improvement in fuel economy between the trade-in and new vehicles purchased.

According to the report, more than 18,908 dealers participated in the CARS program. As a result, 690,114 voucher applications were filed and reviewed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which administered the program.

NHTSA officials stressed that they worked with dealers to correct and complete all applications that were received, ultimately approving 677,842 transactions and denying 12,272 applications.