Wednesday, 19 June 2013 20:42

Dan Risley Talks to Autobody News about ASA

Only a month after beginning work with the Automotive Service Association (ASA) as their Executive Vice President, collision industry veteran Dan Risley was offered the position of ASA Interim Executive Director.

With 26 years of industry experience under his belt, Risley intends to offer his expertise to benefit ASA and the auto repair industry as a whole. He took time out to share his goals for ASA and his stance on several industry concerns with Autobody News readers.

Though Risley has served the auto body industry in many roles throughout the past three decades, he most recently worked as a market claims manager for Allstate Insurance Company. His previous experience includes work with CCC Information Services, BASF, and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).

After six years working in the insurance industry, Risley looks forward to reintegrating himself into the repair industry. His most recent position with Allstate involved overseeing part of the insurer’s DRP network.

“I was the market claim manager for the Good Hands Repair network. I had oversight of the program in half of the country and the staff that oversees them. It was a very unique perspective that I was able to attain, because I got to see firsthand what was really important to insurance companies,” he said.

While visiting New Orleans to attend ASRW near the end of 2012, Risley expressed interest in pursuing new opportunities to Darrell Amberson, ASA chairman-elect at the time, and before long a new opportunity presented itself. ASA offered to add Risley to their board.

ASA named Dan Risley to the position of Executive Vice President of their organization effective March 18, 2013, and soon after, Risley was offered the position of Interim Executive Director.

While there are many issues impacting the auto body industry in particular, Risley believes “The biggest concern for the industry is profitability and [sufficient] compensation to complete a safe and proper repair. The complexities of today’s vehicle and those in the future require significant capital investments in tooling, equipment and training. In addition, insurance company requirements or mandates will continue to negatively impact a collision repairers’ ability to maintain a profit which could inhibit their ability to reinvest  in the business and staff.”

Risley’s primary focus in resolving the concerns facing the industry today begins by listening to ASA members to ensure that the association is representing their best interests in the matters most important to them. Long-term, he hopes “to strengthen the association and extend our influence in the industry from both a legislative and interindustry perspective.”

Moving on to some of the specific issues plaguing body shop owners in particular, Risley addressed PartsTrader. He has said in the past that “ASA does not support PartsTrader and, by the way, nor should we. As an association it’s not our role to support or endorse a given product. ASA does not support State Farm [either] and nor should we.”

He continues, “Any insurance company’s attempts to mandate a specific product or service since repairers should be free to choose the product that best fits the needs of the individual repairer. As such, ASA will continue to educate members and provide feedback to State Farm and PartsTrader in hopes of improving their product/program.”

Risley recognizes that these types of programs will not go away. “If State Farm was to eliminate PartsTrader, it would not be long before another, similar program, took its place.” It is because PartsTrader is not illegal that it appears to be inevitable, at least for State Farm. Risley believes that industry professionals should focus on educating themselves so they are equipped to provide useful feedback, in hopes of influencing the direction in which the insurers are headed.

One issue that Risley believes has not received enough attention from repairers is most favored nation (MFN) clauses in DRP contracts which... “not only affects your State Farm business, but it has the possibility of impacting every job that comes through your shop. So for us this is a much larger issue,” he said.

MFN is a concept borrowed from international trade agreements (hence the reference to nation) but in this case it should be termed the most favored customer clause. It is a contract provision in which a seller (shop) agrees to give the buyer (insurer) the best terms it makes available to any other buyer (or insurer). In this way the DRP ensures that it is getting the best deal available to any insurer.

A law was recently passed in Michigan to ban insurers’ use of MFN clauses, but it did not include property casualty insurers, something Risley says ASA is working with Michigan legislators to change.

Risley explains, “MFN’s do not benefit any of the stakeholders in the industry except the company enforcing the MFN Clause. These types of clauses have a negative impact on collision repairers (including those that are not on State Farm’s Select Service program), consumers and other insurance companies. These types of clauses have a dramatic impact on the marketplace. High performing collision repairers may elect not to be on the Select Service program because of their relationships with other carriers and the impact it will have on the profitability on the State Farm business. Conversely, some high performing shops may elect not to participate on any other carriers direct repair program because of the negative impact it would have on their State Farm business. In both cases, the consumer has less choice. An argument could be made that, in some instances, the consumers’ choice may not include the best in class shops in their area.”

ASA also opposes Right to Repair, and Risley sees no compelling reason to change their stance on this issue. “Information is readily available. In those few instances where there was an issue, it was quickly resolved because of the collaboration with the car manufacturers and NASTF. Why involve the government to legislate and regulate something that appears to be already functioning and effective?” he asks.

Similarly the organization opposes the PARTS Act and its stated goal of reducing OEMs’ parts patent protection to 30 months.

Risley is also taking careful note of ASA’s operation of its industry repair week (Automotive Service & Repair Week, ASRW, in Las Vegas this year.)

“We need to make changes. We know that,” he has acknowledged. “It’s a good time for us to take a hard look at NACE and make wholesale changes where necessary.

“We’re going to be making some fundamental changes to the 2013 program, and significant changes to the 2014 program.”

As Risley becomes more involved with ASA, he is aware that priorities will change constantly, but he insists that ASA’s primary focus will always be their dedication to members.

“As the industry changes, the issues and priorities change. An overarching priority that doesn’t change is ensuring that we are representing our membership in every board room, meeting and conference that is changing or setting the future direction of the collision and service repair industries. We accomplish that through several means. We have a dedicated lobbyist in Washington DC, dedicated ASA board seats with groups such as I-CAR and CIECA and board members and affiliate members that are on various boards and committees throughout the industry. If you want to play a role in facilitating positive change, you need to be there when the change is happening and create the future you envision.”

For more information see:
Automotive Service Association
8190 Precinct Line Road, Suite 100
Colleyville, TX 76034
(ASA’s legislative website)

Executive Director Dan Risley
817-514-2900 ext. 112

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