Monday, 02 June 2008 10:45

Have the Insurance Companies Pushed Collision RepairersToo Far?

Written by Lee Amaradio

The collision repair industry has reached a point where enough is enough. Shops have been watching their bottom lines drop to a point that is becoming dangerous. The insurers are so accustomed to getting something for free that when there is a legitimate charge, they make us feel as if we are the ones that are being unreasonable by asking them to pay it. 

Monday, 05 May 2008 17:00

Getting involved: How to Help the Collision Repair Industry

Written by Lee Amaradio

When I first began writing articles I was a body shop owner blowing off some steam. I sent it off hoping someone else out there felt the same way. As things turned out I was not alone, I’m now a columnist for Autobody News, and in a position of “Industry advocate.” [Photo: Lee and Sheri Amaradio outside the California State Capitol]

Wednesday, 02 April 2008 10:29

Comparing Apples to Apples, Insurers Win, Collision Repairers Lose

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

The insurers have a dilemma; they can’t raise their policy prices in California but must keep their profits up to keep their stockholders happy. They need to run a tight ship and find savings where ever possible. As owners, we also have a big dilemma – raising our prices to keep our profits up. So while insurers still think that cutting the cost on our end is a way to maintain their profits, we are continuing our downward spiral. 

Friday, 29 February 2008 17:00

Shop Owners With Ethics Must Stand Up For Customers

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Truth: Conformity to fact or actuality, A fact that has been verified.
Honesty: Freedom from deceit or fraud.
Integrity: Soundness of moral character, honesty.


Thursday, 31 January 2008 17:00

Owners Should Aspire to Operate Shops That Make Money

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

I’ve always taken pride in my business. Being a business owner and being my own boss is something I not only appreciate, I cherish. Making my own decisions became important to me early on in my life, but I knew that to have the freedom I wanted in my future, I would have to earn it. Owning a business has its rewards, but there is a price to pay.


Monday, 31 December 2007 17:00

Jobs Need to be Calculated in Dollars Not Hours

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Over the years, I’ve come to know myself well. For instance, I am a poor gambler. For that reason, I don’t gamble.


Thursday, 05 March 2009 11:09

Amaradio---Keeping Quiet From Now On

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

I want to start out by saying “I’m Sorry” to all of those questionable insurance companies that I have offended by my articles.

Friday, 30 November 2007 17:00

Insurers should not set standards when they assume no liability

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Today’s “industry standard” is rapidly becoming the industry substandard. This new substandard is becoming the norm and the so-called “measuring stick” that all other repairs are judged by.


Wednesday, 31 October 2007 17:00

No Such Thing As A Free Estimate

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.
Free estimates have been a staple of the auto body repair process for years now. Who would have imagined that from an inexpensive giveaway, estimates would become one of the most costly and cumbersome elements of the business?
Friday, 31 August 2007 17:00

Are You One of the Few Good Men?

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

People often contact me asking what they can do to help fix our industry. More often, though, people contact me just to complain and tell me what needs to happen. They are more than willing to root for me, but don’t want to get their hands dirty. I can’t fix your problems alone. You need to step in and step up.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008 17:00

Amaradio--Fix Your Bottom Line

Written by Lee Amarado, Jr.

When I was a kid I used to love to get ice cream at 31 Flavors—the best, most expensive ice cream around. Normally our family would go to Thrifty Drug Store to get double dips for ten cents each. 31 Flavors was a real treat with more choices Plus, their ice cream was so expensive, we rarely went there.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:00

DRPs in the collision repair industry: good or bad?

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.
In the beginning it was good. We all wanted them and we were lucky to get them. They helped us build mega-shops and attain success as shop owners that was never before possible. We gloated in our success and became the professionals we always wanted to be. We had more work than we knew what to do with and all was good.
Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:00

A proposed DRP profile that is fair to all

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

1.     DRP rates should be discounted no more than 10% of our door rates across the board (SB 1492 by former Senator Jackie Speier suggested this). Every time we raise our door rate we automatically raise our DRP rates.

Monday, 02 July 2007 14:52

Proactive decision-making defines the difference between success and failure

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.
    As businessman we are forced  to make decisions everyday. Some we like. Some we don’t. Nevertheless, we must make them. I like to purchase new equipment but I hate to let an employee go.
Monday, 04 June 2007 16:17

Our concierge service

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.
    I recently went on a cruise with my wife and we stayed on the concierge deck. We were treated to better service because we paid more for this. The special treatment was well worth the cost. It made me think of the new program offered by a certain insurer that is considered their concierge program. I wondered what they were doing that I was not. I saw their ads and discovered that there was nothing they offered that I did not already offer. They were just smart enough to market this service in the first place.
Friday, 04 May 2007 12:41

Poor treatment of insurance company employees may explain adjuster behavior

Written by Lee Amaradio Jr.
    I recently received an email about an article of mine from a gentleman in the collision industry for more than 50 years. I loved what he had to say. and his interesting comments really made me think a bit differently.
Thursday, 05 April 2007 14:11

Outstanding receivables serve as interest free loans

Written by Lee Amaradio
 I recently applied for a home loan and was amazed at the amount of paperwork required in the application process. My credit score had nothing to do with the amount of paperwork involved; the loan companies have certain procedures they follow to qualify every applicant before loaning money.
Monday, 05 March 2007 16:15

Is this any way to run a business?

Written by Lee Amaradio Jr.

We are involved in a game with the insurance companies and we are on the losing team. I call it a game because the collision industry operates like no other business model I know of. Insurance companies wouldn’t play this game from our point of view. Let’s switch sides and put the shoe on the other foot.

Monday, 31 May 2004 17:00

The check is in the mail... or is it?

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.
I am waiting for the day that my credit is so good that I can walk into a fancy restaurant, order a five-course meal, and let the owner know that I will pay him in thirty days. Or go to a grocery store to purchase food and supplies for my family of five and tell the manager that I will pay him after my dad looks the bill over and gives the okay to pay.
Monday, 05 February 2007 16:15

Training the insurance company

Written by Lee Amaradio
I was looking over my accounts receivables last week and noticed a stack of approximately 20 files with very small amounts due. The highest one was $74, with the lowest one being a mere $12. I called my office manager Kim over, and asked her about this particular stack of files. One of my main questions to her was, how much is it costing us to collect on these small amounts? My point was clear. It couldn’t be cost-effective to spend $100 in labor trying to collect $12.
Tuesday, 31 January 2006 17:00

The experiment: negotiating with insurance carriers

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

As president of "Faith" Quality Auto Body, Inc., a large auto body shop with several direct repair programs, I annually renew several company insurance policies with carriers. This year, I decided to conduct an experiment by approaching the insurance companies the same way they approach me. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2006 17:00

An allegory on pleasing direct repair partners

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

After attending a recent meeting with one of my largest direct repair accounts, I found myself totally stressed out. We discussed LKQ and aftermarket parts usage, as well as cycle time. Procedures now called for three alternate part searches for every part on the estimate - each of which had to be documented. Furthermore, going over their allotted four hour per day formula would force us to pay rental car ex-penses. 

Friday, 31 March 2006 17:00

Value of quality in collision repair procedures diminished

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Currently I am struggling to get my shop's recently raised labor rates accepted by the insurance companies we deal with. Raising rates is one thing; getting paid the new rates is another 

Friday, 31 March 2006 17:00

Another perspective on State Farm Select Service program

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

It amazes me how quickly some of us are ready to throw State Farm under the bus. Have we forgotten how much we loved doing business with State Farm up to this point? Perhaps the problem is not State Farm, but with the collision industry itself.

Sunday, 30 April 2006 17:00

Fear of saying NO has collision repairers locked in bad deals

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Our industry is afraid of the "N" word. We are so used to giving in to ridiculous concessions and demands that we say "yes" to almost everything. Who defined cycle time anyway? To me, it's the time elapsed from when a repair is completed to when I get paid. How's that for cycle time. Why hasn't anyone figured out that it takes more time for us to receive the payment than the time it took us to repair the vehicle? Why aren't we demanding twenty dollars a day interest according to our own version of cycle time? 

Wednesday, 31 May 2006 17:00

Industry pros must strive for more equitable working relationship

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

I started my auto collision business in 1979, because I wanted to be my own boss, and I've been fortunate enough to survive for over twenty-seven years. I can even remember when I still knew how to repair cars. Now twenty-seven years later, you would think I knew little or nothing about repairing cars or running a business. 

Friday, 30 June 2006 17:00

DRPs need industry standards to ensure profitability

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

Twenty-seven years after opening my business in 1979, I'm trying to figure out how our industry went so wrong. Although I have learned many things in those years, I haven't learned how to produce a profit consistently. 

Monday, 31 July 2006 17:00

Benefit from more professional channels of communication

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

"What we have here is a failure to communicate!"

    - Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke 

Thursday, 31 August 2006 17:00

Improving relations between shop owners, insurers

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

I've been writing articles trying to give my perspective on what I think would be good changes for our industry. This collision industry is a major part of my life. It provides a living, I enjoy doing what I do, and I love to repair collisions. But there are many things in my life that I value more. I'm also "Lee" the person; I have a life apart from this industry. If we ask about the most meaningful things in our lives, the answer is never going to be the collision industry. While it consumes most of our time, it is far from the most important aspect of our lives.

Saturday, 30 September 2006 17:00

Non-charged processes should be credited to cycle time

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

The tactics used by the insurance companies to outsmart us never cease to amaze me. They have us processing their claims for free. They've figured out how to control our labor rates and dictate the way we repair vehicles. Now we are being asked to pay rental bills.

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 17:00

Write complete estimates the first time around

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

The subject of supplements was brought up at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in San Jose last July - and it is an issue that is clearly in need of attention. One participant pointed out that each supplement costs an average of $250. While this number struck me as high, it began to make sense when I focused on the fact that supplements are time consuming - and estimators don't work for free.

Thursday, 30 November 2006 17:00

Upgrade training to stay competitive and compliant

Written by Lee Amaradio, Jr.

After a lifetime in the auto collision industry you might think I would know it all, yet I'm amazed at how much I still don't know. Attending this year's NACE demonstrated that I still have much to learn to repair some of today's vehicles properly. If we are going to stay up with these new technologically-advanced automobiles, a substantial investment in equipment and training will need to be made.

Recently I had the opportunity to give a presentation to a group of shop owners and managers. The presentation highlighted several areas of change in vehicle technology: advanced high-strength steels, laser welding, MIG brazing, hybrid disabling procedures, structural sectioning, and panel attachment methods, such as bonding and riveting. During the presentation, I spoke not only about the technology, but also how the technology was impacting the collision repair industry in areas such as: technician safety; required tools, equipment and materials; technician efficiency; estimate accuracy and other areas that affect the business.

Over the past several years we have seen changes in vehicle design and construction. Many of these changes provide increased protection for vehicle occupants, increase fuel economy, reduce emissions, or meet the market demands of potential new vehicle buyers.

How many times have you heard over the last several years? “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I know how to create a damage report, repair plan, and perform the repairs.”

The first thing I would like to start this month’s column with is an update on the shops that have started to implement the lean process. 

In a recent article I discussed the lean process and how we can eliminate waste. I recently taught I-CAR’s Cycle time class in Downey and San Jose. Greg Gunter, owner of Greg’s Autobody in Whittier, CA, asked me for help in starting the lean process in his shop. I spent about 4 hours with his staff prior to the 4th of July holiday discussing the lean process and what we were going to accomplish, but before we got started, we did a walk-through of the shop as a group and identified all of the items of waste.

Toby Chess, well-known I-CAR instructor and consultant, was the featured speaker at the California Autobody Association’s (CAA) East Bay chapter meeting, held at Scott’s Seafood restaurant in Walnut Creek, CA, on May 19th.

Hey Toby—I read your articles on lean production and I would like to set up my shop as a lean facility. I know I-CAR has a class on cycle time improvements. I checked with a consultant on helping me but the cost was prohibitive. What do I need to do first?
        —Thanks, Old Time Shop Owner, Los Angeles

Hey Toby—I thought that all high voltage wires on hybrids are orange, but an adjuster told me that there are other colors. Are there more that one color for high voltage wires?
    —Dan from Fresno

With summer only a few months away, I’ve been receiving a number of questions dealing with automobile air conditioning. It’s a good time to answer them. To read this article in PDF format with photos, click here .

 Hey Toby—My repair center recently repaired a vehicle that was involved in a front end collision. The vehicle was not running and towed in. After the repairs were completed, I took the car for a test drive and turned on the air conditioning system to check it out. I was blasted by a foul smell coming from the air conditioning vent. Did we do something wrong?
        —Jose from Scottsdale.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 18:13

Hey Toby 10---Helping out the Firefighters

In October of 2007 I was invited to participate with about 80 fire fighters for extrication training in Medford, Oregon. The 4-day class was developed and presented by Todd Hoffman of Scenes of the Accident. 

Hey Toby – I am a technician in Los Angeles and I need some information on repairing an aluminum hood. Can you help me?

— Miguel from Los Angeles

Sunday, 26 October 2008 17:00

HEY TOBY 8 —Simplify to get Efficient

Hey Toby—I vaguely remember you writing something about lean production and I keep reading in the trade magazines about, but I am really trying to understand it. After reading your article on advanced steels, do you think it would be possible to write a simplified version on lean production that I can understand and I don’t have to translate (I don’t understand Chinese). Thanks —Dave from North Hollywood.

Hey Toby---I recently attended I-CAR’s Advanced Metals class and found the class interesting, but too scientific. I have also read a couple of articles in Autobody News on the same subject, but again, it’s complicated. Could you possibly shed a different light on this subject and make it a little easier to understand?
---Not Albert Einstein from Los Angeles

Hey Toby—Thank you for the resistance spot welding class you conducted at our Chatsworth location the other night. The class was very helpful in several ways:

The in-class technical information portion was helpful in understanding the increasing usage by auto manufacturers of advanced high strength steels and the importance of proper welding techniques needed to retain metal strength.    

The actual hands-on portion of the class was powerful in that we could utilize the latest state-of-the-art equipment you provided for the class and actually test the strength of the welds we performed.  
Overall, the class was beneficial for a better understanding of the importance of proper squeeze type resistance spot welding related to advanced high strength steels. Thank you for conducting the class!
—Frank Schiro

Hey Toby—What is your take on those 3M disposable mix cups that fit on the spray guns?

              —Dave from San Diego

Friday, 06 June 2008 10:31

Toby Chess and I-CAR Instructors Put Insurers through their Paces

Written by Autobody News staff

HEY TOBY  will return in July. 

On May 6, Toby Chess and fellow I-CAR instructors hosted an evening dinner lecture for about 250 insurance adjustors to familiarize them with the ICAR Steel Unitized Structures Technologies and Repair Course (SPS07). On hand to train the estimators and adjusters were Doug Moore, Eric Stretten, Ken Boylen, Steve Morris, Steve Saunders, Mike Mastro, Frank Schiro, Jeff Lawson, Bob Mickey, and of course, Toby Chess.

Hey Toby—I took the aluminum welding qualification test with you about a year and a half ago.  I am trying to remember why you push the puddle instead of pulling it when welding aluminum? 
     —-Joe from Rohnert Park, Ca

Sunday, 02 March 2008 11:46

Hey Toby 3: Radiators, Hybrid Oil

Hey Toby—About 9 months ago, we put in an A/M radiator into an ‘06 Honda Accord with 22,000 miles that sustained front end damage due to an accident. We have a DRP for an insurance company and the price for the part was dictated by the carrier with a large radiator company that they had contracted with. The radiator failed and the customer took her car to an authorized Honda dealer because she was still under factory warranty. My customer was contacted by the dealer and was told that engine blew the head gasket, but she was going to be responsible for the repairs due to the fact that the radiator was not an OEM radiator. She called me immediately and I told her that we would be responsible for the repairs. I contacted the radiator company and they stated that they would replace the radiator and the labor for its installation. I then called the insurance company supervisor and he stated that we needed to call the radiator company, but I explained that they would only cover the cost of radiator replacement and the insurance company recommended the radiator company. His reply was that I was free to purchase the radiator from anyone. I ask him if he would have paid for the difference in price and he said no. I am out $2,300. Do I have any recourse?

        —Mike from Bakersfield

Hey Toby—Where can I get some repair information on a 2004 Chevrolet Corvette frame?
        —Steve from Temecula, CA

Hey Toby—Can you explain what TIG welding is? I recently took an ICAR class about aluminum welding and TIG welding was mentioned as a method of welding aluminum.

—Ole from WLA.

Jeremy and Barbara asked me to respond to an e-mail about a repair process and I said “sure.” After all, I already receive an average of five e-mails or phone calls a week about some sort of question pertaining to the collision repair process. They thought that it would be a great monthly column and, wanting to see my picture in print, I agreed.

Question: Which is cheaper - an airline ticket from Los Angeles to New York with a weekend stay at Five Star hotel including two front row seats to a Broadway Hit play or a gallon of epoxy primer and hardener? If you chose the first scenario you are correct, but if you look at the plane flight alone, it is cheaper than a gallon of epoxy primer.

Have you as a collision shop repairer recently been asked to change the paint time on a panel by an insurance company representative - a time that is different from that listed by the information providers? The answer, I think most of you will agree, is yes.

A shop in my area recently experienced an attack by a competitor. One of the competitor’s reps was trying to get one of the shop’s dealership “authorized collision repair” status. At the same time they tried to hire away one of his best technicians, and some nasty “black P.R.” was employed to hurt his reputation with local insurance agents.

The New Year is well under way and by now most of us have probably forgotten our New Year’s resolutions—that is, if we even bothered to write any.

Monday, 30 November 2009 13:55

Franklin --- Business Beyond NACE

Every year NACE is eclipsed in size by the SEMA and AAPEX Shows during industry week. This year the AAPEX aftermarket show had 132,000 attendees, about six times the number at NACE and CARS this year.