Retro News: November 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011

Retro News: November 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011

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

Kim Hazelbaker of the Highway Loss Data Institute reported there have been 22 infant deaths in the United States because children were riding in the front seat of a vehicle when passenger-side airbags deployed. He said within several years, “smarter” airbag systems will include seat sensors to prevent these types. of deaths. Until such systems are developed. he said, the vehicle manufacturers and his organization are asking federal regulators to allow them to download the energy in the bags” being installed in today’s news vehicles.

– As reported in Autobody News. Automakers have indeed developed “smarter” airbag systems, although many require new procedures for collision repair shops, including the mandatory resets (via vehicle scan) of the passenger seat weight sensors.

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

Insurers risk losing market share because their field claims staff focuses too much on reducing costs and not enough on customer retention, according to industry consultant Dale Delmege.

In a presentation at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Anchorage, Alaska, Delmege said such claims staff often are “driven powerfully and instinctively by self-preservation, are isolated and entrenched, are insulated from such issues as policyholder defection, are impervious to their own employer’s goals, are institutionally incapable of acknowledging reality, and share none of the common interests” of shops, vehicle-owners and insurer upper management.

Delmege, a past chairman of CIC, emphasized that the views he was sharing were only his own based on some research he conducted for a client interested in what factors would likely result in U.S. insurers gaining or losing market share.

He said you generally have to look six or more management levels above field staff in an insurance company before you find someone with accountability for both expenses (severity and loss adjusting expense) and marketing or customer retention. Staff below that level care primarily for one or the other but not both.

He suggested that because consumers often base their decision on whether or not to switch insurers on the “claims experience,” an insurer could retain and gain market share by transferring accountability for both cost-containment and customer retention closer to those controlling that experience.

“By that I mean a regional executive who sweats both bullets, who makes decisions about the administration of claims as a function of his other responsibility, which is retention of policyholders,” Delmege said.

Delmege and others at the meeting pointed out that insurers could also reduce field staff by shifting more of the responsibility for – and benefit from – both cost-containment and customer retention to shops.

“Never before have insurers had so many opportunities to have claims repaired honestly, to have policyholders treated superbly, to have repairers make a massive contribution to loss adjusting expense,” Delmege said.

– As reported in Hammer & Dolly.

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

Some level of standardization, guaranteed work and other changes to insurer direct repair programs (DRPs) could give repairers the ability and incentive to offer such things as 24/7 customer service and new performance guarantees, a recent study of the industry concludes.

“Look at the investments and the innovation we in collision repair have brought to the relationship so far – and we don’t have one guarantee that a car is going to show up tomorrow,” industry consultant Beryl Carlew of Carlew & Associates said at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Las Vegas in early November, where he presented the results of his firm’s research. “Do you think for a minute if we had the work to the door, we had metrics that we knew we could exceed, and we were rewarded for that performance, that we wouldn’t entertain…the dreaded 7-days-a-week, might even entertain 24-hours-a-day as an industry opportunity.”

Carlew’s presentation at CIC was based on a nationwide gathering of input from shop owners around the country. More than 380 collision repair business owners participated in meetings held in 20 North American markets to gather ideas and opinions on improving DRPs.

Carlew discussed a list of more than two dozen problems shop owners currently see with DRPs. That list included concerns that DRP guidelines and the “weight” given to various key performance indicators (KPIs) change frequently with little or inadequate written notice to shops; and that discounts and other concessions are required without any guarantee of how much work the DRP will bring to the shop.

The 130-page report that resulted from the meetings also offers a series of recommendations to improve DRPs. It suggests, for example, that:

  • all guidelines and the weighting of various KPIs for a particular DRP be posted to a secure website, along with established timelines for when notices of changes will be posted;
  • shops be allowed to use a “blueprinting” rather than “estimating” system, dismantling the vehicle sufficiently to determine all parts and repairs needed prior to beginning repairs; and,
  • if a particular part, regardless of type, is not available within 24 hours, the shop be allowed to instead use a part that meets quality standards and is more quickly available.

With such changes, Carlew said, shops indicated a willingness to accept more detailed performance contracts, such as contacting consumers by Noon of the day following receipt of an assignment, seven days a week. But offering additional services or discounts, he said, should be based on rewards for performance and most importantly, an assurance of work.

“How can a carrier walk into a shop and say we’re looking for DRP partners who can handle 100 cars a month, and at the same time say, ‘We cannot guarantee you volume,’” Carlew said.

– As reported in Parts & People.

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

In response to ongoing efforts fostered over the past five years by the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) to develop a set of formalized repair standards, four national repairer groups have jointly issued a statement recognizing published automaker repair procedures as the “official industry-recognized repair standards for collision repair.”

The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP), the Assured Performance Network, the Automotive Service Association (ASA), and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), last week at CIC read a statement that said where OEM procedures exist, they should “be the basis for the establishment of training, testing, repair practices and documentations.”

The groups said they recognize OEM repair procedures are “incomplete in comparison to the full scope of vehicles and repair operations which exist in the marketplace,” but they serve as a baseline from which further development of procedures are necessary.
Although a CIC Repair Standards Advisory Committee has explored the idea of a new industry organization being formed to finalize and implement industry standards, the four groups issuing the statement last week instead called on ICAR to create an industry council “to identify gaps in existing OEM procedures and develop processes to close gaps, vet industry proposed alternatives, modifications and additions to OEM procedures.”

– As reported in CRASH Network (, November 7, 2011. I-CAR did indeed take on the task of working with the automakers to close the gap in the availability and industry accessibility to OEM collision repair procedures; as part of those efforts, I-CAR developed the “Repairability Technical Support Portal” (, which includes the “Ask ICAR” feature that allows users to email or call ICAR with a technical question for which they haven’t been able to find an answer.

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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