Retro News: April 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011

Retro News: April 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011

Mike Anderson in 1966, Incomplete Estimates, Feather Prime & Block, PartsTrader

20 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 1996)

We are our own worst enemy. Every day I try to collect for color sand and buff or other procedures, only to be told that no one else charge for them. You may say I am a fool when I tell you that I believe insurers when they say this, but you are a bigger fool if you do not believe them. This industry is made up of cowards, people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Wise up. Insurance companies are only going to pay for what they are asked for or what the industry demands.
State farm is not necessarily our industry’s worst enemy. Take payment of claims, for example. Does State Farm stretch your receivables out over 30 days? I’m not saying State Farm pays better than all other companies, but let’s give credit where credit is due.

If you want to get angry with someone, get angry with the guy down the street who doesn’t charge for the items you do and should charge for. The guy who tapes up door handles, doesn’t know the P-pages, doesn’t know his cost of doing business, doesn’t charge for colorsand and buff.

We need to clean up our act and look inward for solutions to our problems, not outward where place blame on a third-party.

– From an April editorial in Hammer & Dolly by Mike Anderson, at that time the second-generation owner of a body shop in Virginia and the president of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association. Anderson sold his collision repair business in 2010 and founded Collision Advice, a training and consulting firm. Among his projects: Quarterly “Who Pays for What?” surveys asking shops about how frequently they bill for and are paid for not-included labor operations.

15 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 2001)

A call to define some total loss vehicles as ‘unrepairable’ was among the resolutions passed at the National Industry Issues Forum held recently in Minneapolis, Minn.

The event, sponsored by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, was designed to give collision repairers an opportunity to discuss issues “without outside interference or fear of retribution” from other segments of the industry that participate in most other industry events and discussion.

Shop owners and representatives of SCRS state affiliate associations attending the event voiced support for three “resolutions” created during the meeting.

Attendees unanimously voiced support, for example, for efforts to declare total loss vehicles “unrepairable” and salable only to dismantlers if they are less than 8 years old and have damage exceeding 100 percent of their value.

Auto recycler Herb Lieberman said his industry has introduced such legislation nationally but the bills have never moved out of legislative committees.

“Of the vehicles declared total losses and removed from repair facilities to salvage pools and sold as total loss vehicles, our industry is only purchasing 30 percent of those vehicles, and that has an adverse effect on all of us,” Lieberman said.

He and others at the meeting pointed out that the current situation results in higher prices and lower availability and quality of salvage parts; surgical stripping of vehicles, VIN swapping and other fraud; insurers re-insuring poorly-rebuilt total purchased by unsuspecting consumers; and high salvage values that result in more vehicles being totaled.

National Industry Issues Forum attendees also urged insurers to consider how the accuracy and completeness of initial estimates impact cycle time and overall shop and claims costs.

“We have some insurers that ask us not to write a complete estimate,” said Boyd Dingman, owner of Dingman’s Collision Center in Omaha, NE. “They say, ‘Let’s not put blend time on there,’ or ‘Let’s not put R & I trim on there.’ Then they want cycle time. The car comes in and we don’t have blend time or the R & I time on the sheet. All of a sudden we went from the 15-hour job to a 25-hour job. That certainly slows our cycle time down because we didn’t schedule for 25 hours. They’re hurting our cycle time by asking us to write a short-sighted estimate.”

– As reported in The Golden Eagle. Little has changed in terms of total loss vehicles in the 15 years since the Forum was held, but shops and insurers have for the most part come to realize the value of “blueprinting,” fully documenting all vehicle damage up front to reduce delays and expense created by the supplement process. Dingman continues to operate four shops in Nebraska. Lieberman is an industry liaison for LKQ Corporation.

10 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 2006)

The “gap” has been defined.

One of the long-simmering debates among shops and insurers involves when body work ends and paint work begins. The transitioning processes, which is called different things including “feather, prime and block,” are a frequent source of conflict in terms of whether and how shops should be compensated.

The Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Estimating Committee has spent much of the past year holding panel discussions and working to craft a written statement that “defines the gap” in order to try to bring some clarity to the issue.
At the CIC held in Portland in April, the committee received a nearly unanimous vote in favor of its ninth version of the feather / prime / block explanation.

“The repair process associated with damaged painted body panels typically involves multiple operations: body repair, feather, prime, block, and refinish,” the statement reads. “The body repair process includes metal finishing and/or the use of body fillers to return the body panel to its undamaged contour. The repaired area is finished to 150 grit and free of surface imperfections. Feather, prime and block are not-included refinish operations that complete the process from 150 grit to the condition of a new undamaged panel. The refinish process starts at the condition of a new undamaged panel and is outlined and documented in printed and electronic time guides. The body / paint labor and materials necessary to prepare the repaired area from 150 grit to the condition of a new undamaged part is a valid and required step in the process. The labor and material allowance for these operations requires an on-the-spot evaluation of the specific vehicle and damage.”

– As reported in The Golden Eagle. Despite the adoption of this definition, “feather, prime and block” continues to be a matter of some debate within the industry. A 2015 “Who Pays for What?” survey ( of more than 900 shops nationwide found that two-thirds of them reported receiving body labor, rather than paint labor, for this operation – yet less than 14 percent said this work was performed solely by body technicians. In fact, well over half said the operation is performed solely by the paint department.

5 years ago in the collision repair industry (April 2011)

State Farm says in the coming months it will develop a new electronic parts ordering system for its Select Service shops. In a video message to those shops, State Farm’s Gregg McDonald said the insurer will work with all segments of the industry to develop a system to “reduce the amount of time and effort needed to search for, source and order all part types,” and “to give suppliers a better view of the process, and access to complete parts orders.”

McDonald said that the system will include a review tool to allow shops and vendors to provide feedback on the parts ordering experience.

“Supplier choice and decisions regarding which parts are best suited for the individual repair will remain in your hands,” McDonald tells Select Service shops in the video.

In 2009, State Farm halted an electronic parts ordering test it had rolled out in California and Indiana, saying it had no plans to implement such a program nationally, but that it had found that electronic parts ordering "has value.” The Select Service agreement that participating shops must sign gives the insurer the right to require electronic parts ordering.

– As reported in CRASH Network (, April 11, 2011. The system State Farm was referring to was PartsTrader, which it began requiring Select Service shops to use in 2012, rolling it out nationally by mid-2014.

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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