by Florencia R. Albert, Attorney at Law
In an industry dominated by insurance companies that reward adjusters for saving the companies money and pointing out their colleagues’ mistakes, it is important to a small auto body shop’s success to follow a few simple rules and, when necessary, to fight back when treated unfairly by an insurance company. One of the most important business decisions a small auto body repair business can make for its business to succeed is to decide not to become a victim to insurance companies. Just because the typical auto body shop is a small business does not mean it cannot fight big insurance companies, and win.
The experience of Axel’s Body Shop [name changed for confidentiality] is a good example of how a small business in southern California chose to stop being victimized by an insurance company.
When Axel’s Body Shop owner Steve Axel saw his customer’s new 2009 Honda Fit towed into his shop because of an accident, he never imagined he would find himself suing his customer’s insurance company because of a bully adjuster’s temper tantrum and vengeful action.
|NASCAR Tech students building a race car from the frame up in their chassis class at UTI’s NASCAR Tech campus in Mooresville, N.C.|
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) has been monitoring the actions of a number of insurance companies and how their processes and procedures have affected collision repairers, and ultimately their customers. SCRS recently commissioned a survey of its membership, and during this survey process, a considerable amount of input was received from member and non-member repairers from all over the country. This information is the basis for the following position.
Discussion at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Philadelphia in mid-April indicates there is little consensus in how used or recycled parts should be priced.
The problem as an industry trying to create best practices is we have two different pricing mechanisms out there, and we’re trying to create some sort of standard that’s accepted by all,” said Ken Weiss, chairman of the CIC Parts Committee.
Auto recyclers participating in the discussion estimated that about 20 percent of recyclers, include Greg Freeman of Freeman’s Auto Salvage Center in Joplin, Missouri, have moved to pricing parts as undamaged while 80 percent still quote an “actual part price” to which allowance for any damage must be added.
“From the interacting I’ve been doing with our customers, the collision shops were asking for an undamaged part price, and we’re trying to get (other) recyclers to get to that level,” Freeman said.
But Weiss pointed out that based on discussions he heard at the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) convention last fall, only a small minority of recyclers have made that change.
Two collision industry events in April gave attendees an opportunity to get the latest on insurance and economic trends impacting the industry; learn about the “lean processing” trend among repairers; and discuss what help, if any, state insurance departments offer in addressing shops’ concerns.
By accident of course! I actually got involved with the collision industry without ever intending to. I became a partner in a fledgling computer management company back in 1984. We created a state-of-the-art computer management system that became the leading product of its time. When I joined the company and took over managing the operations they were essentially bankrupt, but didn’t know it. We got that company turned around and eventually a paint company bought it. I got a crash course in collision repair dealing with many of the premier body shops across the US as our customers.
The societal cost of crashes is a staggering $164.2 billion annually, nearly two and a half times greater than the $67.6 billion price tag for congestion, according to a new report released today by AAA. The report, "Crashes vs. Congestion: What's the Cost to Society?," demonstrates that traffic safety issues warrant increased attention from the public and policymakers, particularly as Congress prepares to reauthorize federal transportation programs in 2009.
The redesigned Cadillac CTS, Audi A6 and Volvo S80 earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award for 2008 in the luxury car category. Among SUVs the new luxury Infiniti EX35 earned the Top Safety Pick.
None of 6 minivans, all 2008 models, is designed to resist vehicle damage in many low-speed collisions. The front and rear bumper systems on these minivans allowed $5,000 or more damage in a series of 4 crash tests conducted at 3 and 6 mph.
Before we went to the first grade, most of us knew all the colors in the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. We had crayons and we colored the sky blue, oranges were orange and apples were the same color as little red wagons loaded with green watermelons. You couldn’t color the snowman because it was already white, but you could make a carrot colored nose, do little black dots for his eyes and a scarf in red, green or blue.
Previous surveys conducted every three years conﬁrmed the need for a continual supply of qualiﬁed entry-level technicians, while also showing changes concerning business operations and the collision repair technician workforce.
The Community College of Southern Nevada’s Collision Repair Program officially opened recently at a new, state-of-the-art, $11 million plus facility at the Cheyenne campus.
Provider of technical education training, Universal Technical Institute Inc. (NYSE: UTI), is reducing its workforce by approximately 225 employees nationwide and restructuring its sales management.
How important is color when it comes to buying a vehicle? According to Ford Motor Company research, 39 percent of consumers say they will walk out of a dealership if it doesn’t have a vehicle they want in their color of choice.
Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. (NasdaqNM: KEYS) is donating $2,000 to SkillsUSA to help raise funds for the collision repair and refinish competitors entering this year’s World Skills Competition.
For the second installment of its “Leave Something Behind” campaign in 2007, the National Auto Body Council (NABC) is teaming up with the United States Marine Corps Reserves in support of its Toys for Tots program.
If you’re not paying enough attention to what’s going on around you, you can quickly become obsolete. For an example of just how a market can dramatically change, Matt Ohrnstein thinks collision repairers can think of themselves as a dairy farmer some years ago.
When Gil Grieve wanted to put two new paint booths into his shop a couple of years ago, he knew he would purchase them outright.
Bumpers, even those on expensive cars, don’t resist damage in low-speed impacts. The Infiniti G35, the worst performer, sustained almost $14,000 damage in a series of four tests conducted at 3 and 6 mph by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Saab 9-3 was the best, sustaining $5,243 damage. Only three cars sustained less than $6,000 damage, while four would cost more than $10,000 to fix.
Three of six large car models earn the top rating of good, but one is marginal in side impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Results show a range of performance in how well large cars are designed to protect people in serious side crashes.
The National Auto Body Council (NABC) has implemented a new program to assure that the holidays come early for transportation-challenged families across the country.
PPG selected two outstanding vehicles to receive the “PPG Dream Car” awards at the 10th annual Goodguys PPG Nationals at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus in July. The two vehicles were a ’48 Ford Nash Coupe owned by Mitch and Karen Rhodes of Helena, Ohio, and a 1950 Chevy Hardtop owned by Larry Johnston of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
The 2007 Kia Amanti received a “Good” – the highest possible rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in a side impact crash test for large luxury cars. The results show a range of performance in how well large cars are designed to protect people in serious side impact crashes.
The 2008 Ford Taurus X, a mid-size SUV, meets the criteria to win the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award. Winners of this designation afford superior overall crash protection among the vehicles in their class. To qualify for Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn the highest rating of good in all three Institute tests – front, side, and rear – and be equipped with electronic stability control.
“Little Deuce Coupe,” “409,” “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena,” “GTO,” “Hey Little Cobra.” You know the songs and you can almost smell the burnt rubber. Such songs from The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, The Rip Cords, and others evoke memories in every one of us from days long past. This was an era of camaraderie, creativity, hard work ethics, originality and bonding friendships.
Ronny and Jessica Flores put thier body shop skills to good use in the community on a recent visit to a women's shelter. The shop owners nearly overlooked thier potential for giving back, until they caught wind of a great opportunity to connect.
Maria Martinez won't be walking to work anymore, thanks to the generous spirit of Bates Custom & Collision in Baytown, Texas. The single mother of three teenage children regularly took a bus from her Houston home and then walked several miles to her $8.50/hour job as a security guard, while her teenagers walked three miles to school.
While many auto manufacturers have cut back on technical training offered to body shops, relying instead on paint makers and collision equipment manufacturers to deliver their "approved collision training," University of Toyota is serving more students than ever in its repair and refinish programs.
There are dozens of marketing strategies you can use to generate business for your shop, but none more important than referrals. Referrals are the lifeblood of most collision repair facilities. I'm going to take you through the seven steps to double your referrals. We're going to talk about referrals and referral stimulation strategies that you can start to use right away in your shop that will increase your sales and won't cost you a fortune. I will also ask you a lot of questions to get you thinking, and give you some ideas to use right now to start to increase your referrals.
Today the phrase, “Working Together Is The Most Important Work We Do” is recognized as a hallmark of SCRS. In honor of the society’s 25th anniversary celebration, a historical timeline has been compiled through the stories of past members and key players.
For the fourth consecutive year, Bates Custom & Collision of Baytown, Texas gave a deserving Baytown family one heck of a Christmas present - a 1995 Chevrolet Corsica that had been totally rebuilt by the Baytown staff. The annual gift is part of the Akzo Nobel Acoat Selected Benevolence Program through which body shops across the country donate their time and money to help out a needy and deserving family in their communities.
Mike's (Mike Rose) Auto Body in the East Bay area of San Francisco rebuilt and donated two automobiles to needy, deserving families at Christmas as part of the national Akzo Nobel Acoat Select Benevolence Program.
It was 5:05 p.m. on May 8 when Mike Myers and his staff gathered around the TV to check up on the weather. At 5:15 p.m. they were all huddled together in the pit of the downdraft booth, listening to the devastation taking place above them.
There I was with my clipboard, dressed in jeans and my Bobby Labonte t-shirt - a former school teacher, freelance writer and self-confessed gearhead heading off to learn about the world of auto body repair.
Hitting land about five hours earlier than expected, hurricane Claudette caused massive damage when she slammed into the Texas Matagorda Peninsula on Tuesday, July 15 right about mid-day. Although 15 counties were affected, the hardest hit cities were Port O'Connor, Victoria, and Port Lavaca, along with the west coast of island city Galveston.
There is a school of thought that Yellow Page directories are all washed up. With Internet sites like 411.com, Switchboard.com and others, who wants to lug out a fat, heavy book and thumb through a thousand or more pages? Actually, your potential customers do. Internet sites (at least right now), just offer plain vanilla listings perhaps with a link to a map. How can a consumer make an informed choice with nothing but a name, address and phone number displayed?
"Each year the collision repair industry as a whole comes across cars that are 'written off' by either the owner or the insurance company. Often these are older vehicles that just need some mechanical and body work to get them back on the road and perfectly safe to drive. Because we believed these cars were going to waste when there were people who really need them, we decided to do something about it," stated Sal Contreras, sales/marketing manager for Mike Rose's Auto Body, Inc. with shops located in Concord, Walnut Creek and Pleasanton, California.
Miniature big rigs and all kinds of toys were everywhere as the East Bay Chapter of the California Autobody Association (CAA) hosted its 6th Annual Toys for Tots Truck Competition at the Hilton in Concord, California, on November 18.
When Kelly McCarty Swenson is sworn in as president of the California Autobody Association (CAA) in February 2004, she will become the third woman to steer the organization - following in the footsteps of Maureen Holmes and Yumi Vaught.
So what does a body man do to recuperate from the day-to-day stress of operating a collision repair business? In the case of Rich Evans, owner of Huntington Beach Bodyworks, his idea of rest and relaxation is to hang out in a junkyard, pull down his welding mask, and build machines out of junk.
Three Texas body shops including Bates Custom & Collision of Baytown, ProCare Collision of San Antonio, and Ellis and Salazar of Austin, presented needy, deserving families in their community with rebuilt vehicles as part of the Akzo Nobel Benevolence Program.
Mike's Auto Body of Concord, California made Christmas merrier for the needy and deserving in their Bay Area community this year through the Akzo Nobel Benevolence Program. Keilah Johnson, Jose Luna Jr. and Youth Homes, Inc., each went home with a new "used" vehicle. Joined by 18 Bay Area collision industry vendors, Mike's Auto Body repaired three vehicles that had been "written off" and gave them to groups and individuals who will use them to improve their own lives and the lives of others.
I-CAR Los Angeles has been conducting food or toy drives for the last seven years during the holiday season. This year was the most successful yet, with over 2,000 new toys donated, and the success may be due in part to a new twist that was added to this year's event.
When you're in Las Vegas for NACE this coming November, look out your hotel window at the Mandalay Bay and across the freeway you'll see a big red sign: "Body Shop." That would be Falconi's, the most visible leg of the Vegas auto body triumvirate known as the Auto Body Group (ABG). Formed in 1991, ABG consists of Green Valley Collision Center, Speed-way Truck and Paint, and Falconi's.
From coastal cities Ventura and San Luis Obispo to as far east as Bakersfield, over 75 collision repair industry professionals traveled to the rolling hills of Santa Maria to participate in a High Impact Negotiation workshop presented by Mel Hunke.
The details of the sixth-annual Motor Trend/CIAS International Design Contest have been announced by Motor Trend magazine and the California International Auto Show (CIAS). Open to amateur, student and professional designers from around the world, the theme of this year's competition is "Brand It Your Way," challenging contestants to conceptualize a vehicle design that embodies the characteristics and traits of a specific, non-automotive brand.
President and CEO of Mentors at Work Mark Claypool served as a featured panelist addressing the topic Human Empowerment: The Role of Mentoring during an international Internet conference in May. Mentors at Work partners with automotive and collision repair facilities to build and maintain effective, in-house apprenticeship programs. Joining Claypool was Mentors at Work's Personal Trainer Kathy Moore, a specialist in interpersonal relations.
Over the past several months, blend panels have been the center of controversy for collision repairers all across the country. This issue has been brought to the Society of Collision Repair Specialists' (SCRS) attention, not only by several of our members but also at a recent Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting.
Racing against the clock and against 49 other student teams from around the country, aspiring auto technicians Garrett Johnson and Jacob Tilley of Cy Fair High School in Cypress, Texas, needed only 39 minutes and 37 seconds to repair their vehicle - a 2005 Ford Escape - to win the 2004 FORD/AAA Student Auto Skills national finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, the first time the event has been held in the city of Dearborn.
Too much traffic? Hard day at the body shop? Think industry meetings are repetitive and boring? If some excuse kept you from joining over 500 individuals and 84 vendors at the L.A. trade show and dinner fundraiser for the I-CAR Education Fund, you missed a worthwhile networking opportunity - and a free dinner.
As I pulled up to EZ Autobody CARSTAR in Gilbert, Arizona, it looked like a full-fledged disaster site. There were six fire trucks - three with booms extended - and about 100 firefighters and emergency technicians. But something looked different. Instead of their life-saving gear, they were dressed in shorts and blue department t-shirts, drinking coffee and eating donuts as they awaited the start of the First Response training seminar. "First responders" from Sedona to Phoenix were talking shop and admiring the highly-polished fire engines - all dressed up for this event.
Ex-FBI agent Richard "Dick" Ross, 62, of El Dorado Hills, was sworn in as the new chief of the California Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR). Prior to this appointment, he served the state of California as an assistant team leader at the California Performance Review and as deputy commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Branch at the California Department of Insur-ance (DOI). He retired from a 30-year career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1997.