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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.

The collision industry in my area is divided into two camps: The big guys and the smaller independent shops. The big multi-location or consolidator-owned shops have a huge advantage over the smaller shops. In addition to more revenue to hire top-rate repair technicians, they can also afford many more administrative people to enter data into the computer and do follow-up mail, e-mail and phone calls.

I recently spoke to an insurance agent who said that in this tough economy they have had to shift their strategy. He said during normal years they had about a 15 percent attrition of customers, but they were generally able to attract at least 15-to-20 percent new customers to make up the difference. Now, he said, attracting new customers seems all but impossible, but fortunately the attrition rate is way down and by stepping up service they have almost been able to retain all of their existing customers.

I have found two very different viewpoints on the subject of paying for work. In discussing the topic with a wide range of shop owners I’ve found two sides to the issue.

The California Autobody Association Glendale Foothill Chapter meeting, on April 28th, featured speakers from three major providers of Refinish Materials Calculators. Wayne Krause and Brian Bragg from Mitchell presented Mitchell RMC. Bob Klem, president of PaintEx, presented PaintEx. Richard Palmer, President and CEO of Computer Logic, presented PMCLogic. Mr. Palmer traveled the farthest, coming from their headquarters in Macon, Georgia.

Many science fiction films speculate on what it would be like for outer space aliens to make first contact with humans. Some jokingly suggest a humorous encounter with an animal assumed to be our most intelligent species, but the message is clear: That first encounter can set expectations for all that will follow.

I recently checked out the websites of a few current and past body shop clients. In all but a few, there were virtually no changes from the last time I looked nearly a year ago.

Driving around and noticing which shops are still somewhat busy during this economic downturn is very revealing. One common denominator that I’ve noticed is the way these busy shops persist with their marketing programs even when they’ve had to lay off some technicians and make other cuts in expenses.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 18:04

Franklin---The Hard-Sell May Be Needed Now!

I recently spotted a local mechanic going on-site to do some customer repairs. He had his ASE emblem in his truck window and a magnetic sign on the door advertising “Auto repairs at your home or office.” With the recent downturn in the economy, many technicians have been laid off. Most of those who can’t find another job go on unemployment until business improves. But there are a few enterprising guys like the mechanic I saw. He went out and hustled his own business.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008 13:10

Franklin --- Twelve Commandments of Marketing

1.    When Business Is So Slow You Have Time On Your Hands, You Must Go Out And Do More Marketing And Selling To Bring In More Business!

With a tight economy at hand, shops are looking for ways to bring in more business and to increase profits. Many shop owners I’ve spoken to recently told me they still have people coming in for estimates. It’s just that they’re not capturing enough jobs.
Every waiter and waitress in the country is  instructed to ask every diner if they would like pie or a dessert menu at the end of the meal. Although nearly 80% say “no,” the 80/20 rule is working fine. The 20% who say “yes,” add nicely to the restaurant’s bottom line, and the waiters and waitresses enjoy enhanced tips.
King Gillette was so frustrated with continually sharpening his straight razor, he invented the safety razor with a disposable blade and made a fortune in the process. Frederick W. Smith became so frustrated with the slowness of regular mail, that he developed the concept of overnight delivery which eventually became Federal Express.
Saturday, 02 August 2008 10:17

Obtaining and Retaining a Dealership Relationship

Written by Tom Franklin
A while back I was contacted by a local body shop to create a proposal for them to attempt to obtain a contractual relationship with a very desirable dealership nearby. They were pleased with the proposal write-up, but I never heard whether or not they got the deal. Nevertheless, I added this proposal write-up to the collection of files I include with my book, Top 40 Marketing Tactics for Body Shops.
Monday, 07 July 2008 12:05

When a Solution Becomes a Larger Problem

Written by Tom Franklin

Dis-solve: (verb) 1. To pass or cause to pass into solution; 2. To melt; 3. To cause to disappear or dispel; 4. To separate into component parts; disintegrate.

Monday, 02 June 2008 10:29

Cranking Out Estimates to Employ as a Marketing Tool

Written by Tom Franklin

The past few years have been fairly good for most of my body shop clients. In fact, business has been so good it’s been difficult to get some shop owners and managers to get serious about marketing initiatives. They may get interested in an idea for a short time, but as soon as business picks up, that interest disappears. 

Wednesday, 02 April 2008 10:18

Drilling Down for Marketing Results

Written by Tom Franklin

We’ve all had a customer come into the shop with bumper damage. You write the estimate and he stares at the total cost, stunned! “How could a little bumper damage possibly cost this much?” he exclaims. After you show him the cost of the reinforcement bar, impact strip, (etc, etc.) and then explain how the impact also pushed the fender into the quarter panel requiring additional repairs and refinishing, he may look a little less stunned. And you hope he may begin to understand how what seems to be superficial damage may have traveled far deeper than he could have imagined.

Friday, 29 February 2008 17:00

Lack of Time is Poor Excuse For Neglecting Marketing Programs

Written by Tom Franklin

Every professional has a pet peeve. In fact I’m sure that you, as a collision repair professional, have many things that really annoy you. But as a marketing consultant, there is one specific thing that bothers me most of all. People pay me good money for marketing tactics and strategies. Some will put them into practice for a short time, but soon will stop. Others won’t even begin to take the marketing measures I recommend. Why is this? Have I suggested actions that are too complicated? Too expensive? Too difficult to carry out?

Thursday, 31 January 2008 17:00

The Challenge of Enticing Customers to Return to Your Shop Three Times

Written by Tom Franklin

I recently wrote an article berating shop owners who wasted marketing money on ineffective advertising (which is most of it). I pointed out that few people who have recently been in an accident will look to an ad to find a shop for repairs.

 

Monday, 31 December 2007 17:00

Getting Real Help with Marketing

Written by Tom Franklin

Recently one of my readers called to ask how he could find a professional salesperson to go out and sell prospects on sending business to his shop. He had run ads for sales people and interviewed quite a few. He advertised on Monster.com and other online job sites. He may have even tried out a few applicants. But basically he couldn't find any that could effectively go out and represent his shop. I told him he would probably never find anyone who could. Why is that?

 

Friday, 30 November 2007 17:00

Avoid Taking Easy Way Out When Targeting Probable Customers

Written by Tom Franklin

As soon as you open your doors for business, sales pitches and junk mail for every imaginable kind of ad begin to arrive. Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, and Yellow Pages in Spanish, Chinese, or whatever other languages are spoken in your area may arrive first.

 

Wednesday, 31 October 2007 17:00

Clever Strategies for Drawing in New Customers

Written by Tom Franklin
After more than forty years in marketing and sales, I’ve concluded that most ineffective marketing comes down to a failure to do three things:
Sunday, 30 September 2007 17:00

Closest Sources of New Business

Written by Tom Franklin

Quality shop owners would generally prefer to replace a damaged part with an OEM part rather than a used part or an aftermarket part. They know that the part from the original manufacturer will be most likely to fit well and thus save them time and trouble. If they can find a used OEM part in reasonably good condition, this would probably be their second choice. The last choice would be the aftermarket part, possibly manufactured in Taiwan, and often lacking in correct dimensions and useablility.