The ‘Anti-Steer’ Educates Consumers About Insurance Company Steering 

The "anti-steer” is a piece of art and an educational tool at Finish Line Collision and Customs in Redding, CA.

Dennis Douglas has a statue of a steer in front of his auto body shop, Finish Line Collision and Customs in Redding, CA. He calls it his “anti-steer.” 

It features a series of messages, all of which say basically the same---steering is wrong. The main one puts it in simple terms: "Is Your Insurance Company Full of Bull? Don’t Let Their Referral Get You a Bum Steer!”  

Douglas, 60, is in the same spot many body shop owners are in currently. He hopes his son Dillan will take over the business within the next few years. He has had a strong business in a small town since 1998, when he bought the shop from his father. 

“When I first started, I was at the bottom, changing booth filters and detailing cars. But I learned as much as I possibly could and eventually took over the operation,” he said. “Dillan will hopefully do the same. He is doing a great job and pretty much running the front office with me at this point.

“I’ve been married to this business for a long time,” he said. “I’m ready to step aside and let my son take over. The industry has changed so much; we work off of photo estimates mostly now. We have to rewrite the estimates in many cases, but that’s how things work now.” 

One thing Douglas will not miss when he eventually retires is steering by the insurance companies. As a non-DRP shop, he has seen it hundreds of times over the years. But, by being in the same location and avoiding the bull, he has been able to do well in a very competitive market. 

“Steering is always going to be around as long as there are DRP relationships,” he said. “I would say half of the shops around here are DRP shops, which means that they are getting a lot of work from the insurance companies. In many cases, it likely involves some form of steering. I wonder how much work I have lost over the years. It has undoubtedly hurt us over the years and when the MSOs get a lot of the work anyway, it makes it even tougher to make a buck.” 

Douglas had his bull custom made, he said. 

“I knew a man who would go to Mexico and bring back horse statues. He is still one of my best customers to this day. I told him I need a steer. We put a paint scheme on it with some flames and then I made a sign to put on its back. I don’t leave it out there and people often ask about it. If I left it out there, it would be full of gunshots! The poor ‘anti-steer’ has faded a little over the years, just like all of us, but the message is the same.” 

The “anti-steer” gets a lot of attention and starts a few conversations from time to time. 

“A lot of people don’t even realize that they’re being steered,” Douglas said. “In the end, the insurance companies still pretty much run the show, but if the 'anti-steer' can help to avoid steering, why not let him help?”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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