Wednesday, 31 August 2005 17:00

CIC speaks up for changes in estimating companies procedures

Attendees at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) survived the blistering Arizona heat in Scottsdale, Arizona, to see progress being made on many crucial issues. The Estimating Task Force, formed by AASP, ASA and SCRS at NACE in 2004, had plenty to report about getting results from the database providers. 

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Task force members sought answers from Mitchell after April's announcement allowing users to select manufacturer unapproved panel bonding procedures in the database. Tom Fleming, Mitchell vice president of Database Development, speaking on behalf of Mitchell CEO Jim Lindner, explained: "Adhesive bonding is a fairly new procedure in the industry. While it is not universally accepted, we chose to include it in our database because of its widespread use. With this, as with similar items such as alternate parts, we defer to the professional judgment of those directly involved with a specific vehicle or claim to determine the most appropriate repair procedure. But it is important for us to clearly distinguish where bonding is and is not approved by the OEMs."

The announcement that the August CD release will offer only OEM approved panel bonding procedures was greeted with enthusiastic industry applause. "Mitchell has always been receptive to feedback from the industry, and this time is no different,"said Task Force Chairman Lou DiLisio. "We raised concerns to Mitchell about sending a mixed message on (adhesives/panel bonding) and they listened, u

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The ASA contingent showed up in full force at the Scottsdale Collision Industry Conference: ASA Executive Vice-President John Scully (l), Bedford, Texas; Ron Pyle, ASA president, Bedford, Texas; and Jerry Burns, Automotive Impressions, Albuquerque, New Mexico, ASA Collision Division Board Member.
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Three new attendees at the Scottsdale Collision Industry Conference: David Ball (l), BASF Sales Representative; Charles Guido, BASF Business Development Manager; and Jay Johnston, BASF Manager of Training and Development

rstood, and then made the necessary changes to keep everyone on the same page."

Re-keying revisited

Cindy Granse, chairman of CIC's Electronic Communication Committee of-fered an in-depth look at the problem of re-keying estimates - a problem that is costing the collision industry an estimated $17.5 million a year. This is not a random figure. In a 2004 survey, shops reported rekeying 28% of estimates written. With approximately 9 million auto claims, 28%, or 2.52 million estimates re-keyed, taking 21 minutes at $20.00 per hour, it is a lot of money - on both sides of the industry.

The task force in-depth study of this conundrum has suggested several solutions. An insurer estimate could be given to the shop on a disk, or a thumbdrive, or the insurer could have a password on the estimate allowing the shop access to that estimate from the insurer's server. The database providers reported that they are working on this technology, although at this time progress is being made only on estimates into the same brand of estimating system. The more challenging issues related to re-keying estimates into a different estimating application.

Mitchell said they already have a working system in place with Progressive Insurance's DRP shops and is looking to expand the program. CCC reports that Pathways 4.3, which is not yet available, allows a face-to-face transfer of an estimate. ADP is reported to be developing a system to allow downloading of their estimates through a secure central server. No insurers reported at this CIC meeting on their stance regarding acceptance of this system.

Electronic parts ordering

The Parts Committee panel discussion,"Parts Distribution Process," brought lively discussion from all segments of the process. The issue of electronic parts ordering opened up debate from the supply and demand side. Database providers are looking to go deeper into the supply chain integration with direct access to parts availability. Vendors spoke to the loss of personal relationships with their customer, while the shop side addressed accountability to the customer and the desire to pick the vendors of their choice. Also noted was the fact that through electronic parts ordering, shops are forced to use the lowest price available, regardless of service and condition of the part.

Welding demonstration

Technical Presentation chairman Toby Chess brought four welders into the room to demonstrate the radical change in new material, and the equipment and expertise it is going to take to repair today's damaged vehicles. Chess showed several samples of the welding "destructive" test to determine the success of the welds. At the end of the day, Chess had welders outside the conference room for an interactive, hands-on welding demonstration. Robert Hornedo, Pacific Collision Equipment, provided his Pro-spot welders and expertise to this presentation. Hornedo moved into these repairs talking about fusing invertor technology with computerization to perfect welds on the new materials.

Education moves to the forefront

Special Presentations Committee presented the panel discussion: "If You Build It, Will They Come?" Panelists from the collision repair education segment noted that classroom enrollment is up. One speculation is that the enrollment increase is related to the popularity of new automotive television shows - such as Monster Garage and Cut, Chop, Rebuild which have a huge influence on young people. However, the vocational education programs still need help from the industry for educating students, parents, teachers and counselors.

Schools are working with I-CAR and developing curricula that match industry needs. Chuck Sulkala, Acme Body and Paint, Boston. Massachusetts, recommended that the industry work through state associations and contact state directors of education for input.

"If we don't get together, it will be a moot point," declared Sulkala. The Massachusetts Auto Body Association has a program to collect tools from their members and donate them to students in the vo-tech schools. This is a program that can be adopted by any community without a great deal of effort.



CIECA's Repairer Advisory Panel sets agenda for electronic issues

In a gathering of about 11 attendees in Scottsdale, Arizona, the first Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) Repairer Advisory Panel (RAP) met to discuss a variety of electronic commerce topics affecting them and the collision repair industry. Among the topics discussed were Society of Collision Repair Specialists' (SCRS) two-way communications project, the CIECA Resource Center, incorrect expectations in the marketplace regarding what CIECA can do for repairers, and the proliferation of different Status Message systems (to report the repair status of the vehicle).

Jerry Burns, Automotive Impressions, said that "CIECA needs to communicate in (what he called) 'Shop-eze' and less in technical language." CIECA Board Chairman Paul Krauss of Craftsman Auto Body said that he hoped that this panel would "go a long way toward bridging the language gap between repairers and the standards developers." Work on developing an effective method of communication with the repairers will be the topic of future RAP meetings.

Status messages and systems

In a unanimous vote, the RAP recognized the importance of addressing the proliferation of Status Messages and systems. Barry Dorn, Dorn's Body and Paint, said that "a standardized method of reporting vehicle repair status is needed."

"Without a defined standard, the industry potentially will have a similar situation that we had before the EMS was developed by CIECA," Fred Iantorno, CIECA's executive director, added.

Repair questions answered

Iantorno reported that CIECA's Resource and Knowledge Center has been receiving many questions regarding the actual repair of vehicles. These types of questions were originally outside the scope of the Center. Burns announced that the Automotive Service Association (ASA) would provide CIECA with the answers to those questions.

Dan Risley, SCRS Executive Director, added that SCRS would also provide answers. The RAP decided to accept these offers and outlined a procedure where these repair questions would be forwarded to both ASA and SCRS with the answers posted on the Collision Industry Resource Center provided by CIECA: www.crclink.org.

"The concept of the Repairer Advisory Panel for CIECA is BIG! The open dialogue between all participants will prove to be a valuable tool as CIECA pushes toward a cleaner more concise manner for all parties to communicate and conduct business electronically. Our industry revolves around the exchange of information. I am excited to be a part of identifying "Repairer Friendly" initiatives and results," said Gary Wano, Jr., GW & Sons Auto Body, Oklahoma.

After the meeting, Wano accepted the on-going chairmanship of the RAP. The next meeting will be held on September 14 in San Francisco. Those repairers that would like to participate please contact Fred Iantorno at CIECA or any Panel member.

More information about CIECA and the Repairer Advisory Panel can be viewed at www.cieca.com.


Hiring practices

Corey King, chair of the CIC Human Resources Committee emparted valuable insight into hiring practices. King encourages business owners to take the time to extensively interview new job applicants. "Don't just accept a pre-written resume. Make sure prospective employees completely fill out your job application," he states. As business owner, ask yourself if the applicant has the qualifications that meet your specific needs. King says never, never, hire an employee "on the spot." Take time to check references.

Gap between repair and refinish

Chad Sulkala, ACME Body and Paint, Boston, facilitated a spirited panel discussion for the Estimating Procedures Com-mittee. "The Gap Between Repair and Refinish" addressed a process that has been a subject of interpretation for many years. Herb Lieberman, LKQ Corporation, furnished five fenders in various stages of repair. A review of the repair steps clearly demonstrated the gap that exists between the 150 grit surface sanding where the estimating databases say body repair ends and the "new and undamaged panel" surface where they indicate that refinishing times begin.

The repair process that fills the gap is commonly called feather, fill and block - where considerable technician time and refinishing materials are consumed. No formula has ever been established to calculate an appropriate time allotment for this inescapable process. The two insurers on the panel, Roger Cada, State Farm Insurance, and Michael Lloyd, California Casualty, were asked by Gary Wano, G.W. & Sons, Oklahoma, "If in fact the industry was able to come up with a standard for the gap, would they accept it as a usual and common practice?" Both insurers agreed to look at that process.

Industry participation increases

The Collision Industry Conference Mar-keting Committee, chaired by Lisa Siem-bab, CARSTAR, Connecticut, reported 35 new participants at this conference, demonstrating that more and more collision industry participants want to stand up and take part in determining the industry's destiny.


Janet Chaney has served in many facets of the collision repair industry. She is now looking after the best interests of her clients from Cave Creek, Arizona. E-mail her at janet_chaney@earthlink.net.


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