How Will Results from SCRS ‘Blend’ Study Be Used Moving Forward?

A panel discussion at CIC included representatives of all the paint companies that participated in the SCRS “blend study.”

With the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ release in November of the results of its hands-on study demonstrating that blending of a panel takes an average of 31% more time than a full panel refinish---rather than the 50% less time allocated in the three estimating systems---the association was asked during CIC where the issue goes moving forward.

“Here’s the beauty of CIC: That’s up to you,” Aaron Schulenburg of SCRS said during the conference held during SEMA in Las Vegas. “Our goal was to capture data, and present it in a transparent manner, and to share it with the industry so you can have the dialogue you need to have. I don’t know where that occurs or how that occurs, but I think there’s a big disconnect between what we’ve identified and what exists today.”

The study came about because the three estimating system providers each establish its own refinish labor allowance for any given panel, and while those labor times for the same panel may differ from one estimating system to another, all three companies use 50% as a blend calculation.

“Our members have long challenged that,” Schulenburg said this past summer, before the study was completed.

The association’s 35-page report on the study---which can be downloaded at how it was conducted, with painters employed by each of the five major paint companies following their company’s process guidelines for spraying both a full refinish and a blend panel using the same paint colors on new F-150 panels supplied by Ford.

Across all colors, the average blend time among the five paint lines were between about 128% and about 134% of full refinish time.

“What’s remarkable to me, with all the different [paint] companies and [their] different processes, is how close the [percentage differences] are among all of the companies,” Robb Power, senior manager of refinish solutions for PPG, said at CIC. “I would have never thought it would come in that close. To me, that adds validity to what we see in those results.”

Schulenburg said it’s clearly an issue that needs to be addressed with the information providers, who were invited to attend the SCRS study but who were “not present” over the two days. He said he feels it is an appropriate topic for CIC’s Paint and Materials Committee to address moving forward, but regardless, he said, it “can and should be addressed with the information providers [as] an issue that has been brought to them through our work with different associations…for years.”

“That was the goal from the onset, to capture credible data, to have real conversation, that helps motivate positive change in the industry,” Schulenburg said.

Attracting and Training New Employees

Another panel discussion at CIC in Las Vegas focused on employee recruitment and retention.

Jim Guthrie, president of Car Crafters, which operates five shops in New Mexico, said his company uses a “recruitment card” as part of its effort to attract new employees. Guthrie said all his employees have the cards, which include a QR code that can be scanned to link to the company’s “career page” where someone can fill out and submit an application.

Guthrie said collision repair businesses can develop an internal promotion to encourage employees to hand out the card to potential hires. If a referred potential employee gets hired and stays for six months, the employee who handed out that card may get $500, for example, “and if they stay another six months, they get another $500,” Guthrie said. “Whatever the promotion is that you want to come up with within your own shop. The recruitment card has been a neat little tool for us.”

Guthrie said his company tries to have six to 12 entry-level employees participating in its “earn while you learn” program, which uses a basic curriculum that “starts with the simple EPA/OSHA stuff, and then goes through bumper tools, door panels and bumper repair.” Students learn a skill, then can use it in the shop.

“It takes somebody off the street, teaches them the basics, the theory, and then they go put it into practice,” he said.

Once a student in the program can demonstrate the skill, and has the tools to perform it, they are “signed off for that particular function, whether it’s drilling spot welds or whatever.” Within two or three years, he said, students are “advanced to a point where they’re basically a B-tech. It’s a way they can earn while they learn.”

Reasons Why Insurers Receive a Low Grade

Also at CIC, John Yoswick of CRASH Network shared data from that publication’s annual “Insurer Report Card” survey, showing the reasons shops give some insurance companies’ claims practices a lower grade can be based more on the processes that insurer uses rather than payment-related concerns.

The Insurer Report Card allows collision repair professionals to grade the insurance companies they interact with based on how well each carrier’s policies and practices help ensure quality repairs and customer service. The data shared at CIC, from a prior year’s survey completed by more than 1,100 shops, showed differences exist even among insurance companies receiving a similar grade.

Not surprisingly, some of the reasons commonly cited by shops for giving an insurer a low grade were payment-related issues: an insurer seeks “unreasonable” discounts on parts or labor, or is viewed as “slow to pay.”

However, many of the reasons are primarily process-related rather than payment-related. While only 3% of shops grading one insurer said they gave that insurer a “C-" or lower because they view that company’s claims staff as inexperienced or poorly trained, for example, more than one in four shops cited that as the reason they gave one of the other insurers a similarly low grade. Almost 80% shops said one insurer requires more digital images than other insurers, but only 27% of shops felt that was true about one of the other insurers receiving a similar low grade.

These findings, Yoswick said, offer insurers “something of a roadmap for improving their relationship with shops without thinking that the only thing that would make shops happier is paying them more money.”

Change in CIC Leadership

Also at CIC in Las Vegas, Darrell Amberson was recognized at the end of his two years serving as chairman of the conference.

“We want to thank you for all you’ve done because you’ve certainly raised the bar,” Jeff Hendler, a past CIC chairman who has been CIC administrator, told Amberson.

“Together with our committees and chair people, we work to elevate our industry to higher levels of performance, professionalism, technical expertise and business acumen,” Amberson said of CIC in his closing comments. “I believe we are making a difference.”

Frank Terlep of Auto Techcelerators will begin his term as CIC chairman at the next meeting, being held Jan. 19 in Palm Springs, CA.

John Yoswick

John Yoswick is a freelance writer and Autobody News columnist who has been covering the collision industry since 1988, and the editor of the CRASH Network... Read More

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