For a collision repair facility owner, handling the daily lineup of repairs, staff management, insurance relationships and financial issues is a significant challenge. Growing the business on top of that can be a daunting task.
One of the best ways for an owner to grow their business is to grow their DRP relationships and work with insurance carriers. Once you have the right processes and people in place, you have the platform to meet the rigorous standards these insurers require. And, if you’re part of a collision repair network, you often have opportunities to participate in their national programs.
Getting your facility ready to handle DRP work requires planning, process improvements, team training and measurement.
I’ve been in the collision repair business since I was 15 and am now the owner of three CARSTAR locations in Ohio. I’ve learned a lot and faced some roadblocks along the way. For example, I experienced a setback at one of our locations due to a fire and some other miscellaneous growing pains, but we now handle a great portfolio of DRP work across all three locations.
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to consider when pursuing more DRP work:
Understand the DRP requirements. It is imperative that you understand that the requirements are different for each carrier’s DRP. Each one has unique repair procedures and required parts, certifications/equipment and documentation/reporting. Talk with your local agents about their programs and get input from other collision repair facilities that are currently on them. This will help you understand which DRP programs may align best with your facility.
Explore your opportunities. It pays to know your market. If you’re in a military town with a lot of USAA- and GEICO-insured vehicles, it could be a smart move to get onto their DRPs. The same goes for State Farm or Allstate if they have a major presence in your market.
Evaluate your business. Succeeding with DRP business often requires a higher level of performance. Is your business able to achieve the OEM and I-CAR Gold training needed? Are you ready to invest in the equipment needed? Do you accurately measure your KPI and CSI performance – and can these meet the DRP requirements?
Be adaptable. Because each DRP has different requirements, you and your team have to be able to adapt to meeting them for each repair – from the moment you write the estimate to when you return the keys. Some repair systems can help guide you through this, but it’s also great to have an insurance team available if you’re part of a network. Also, repair standards are changing quickly, so it’s important to be able to balance DRP requirements with OEM repair standards to ensure you’re delivering the customer a safe and high-quality repair. Are your team and process flexible enough to adapt to this type of business?
Get to know the insurance community. Throughout the year, there are local events where you can meet the representatives of the local and national insurance carriers. You can usually find these in BodyShop Business, or through industry organizations like the National Auto Body Council, CIC, the Collision Repair Education Foundation and I-CAR. This provides a great opportunity to get to know the representatives and introduce your business.
Once you’ve successfully been put on a DRP, the work doesn’t end there. You have to constantly monitor and improve your performance. Here are a few tips for maintaining your DRP relationships:
Understand each of the DRP programs. Every program is different, so make sure you’re educating your team on what is expected at each stage of the repair for each job. Programs change quickly, so you need to be comfortable with this ongoing process. It is helpful if you’re part of a network that can provide national program updates on a regular basis to keep you up to speed.
Measure and monitor every step of your process. If you have CCC or Mitchell, you can document all of your repair metrics against your DRP requirements. But it’s important to critically review this data daily and weekly to see where you’re succeeding and where you have opportunities to improve.
Anticipate and forecast. While you can’t forecast a hail storm, you can identify some trends in your local community or business that can impact your cycle time, volume and even technician availability. Incorporate this into your business planning and prepare your teams for seasons with more inclement weather. Also, keep abreast of major automotive issues – recently introduced vehicles may have longer wait times for replacement parts, new substrates or technology may lengthen the repair process, and processes like recalibration may require additional time. It’s important to communicate these issues to your DRP partner up front and ensure your appraisers write it into their estimates so you don’t impact your KPI performance.
Leverage your partners. If you’re part of a collision repair network, leverage the insurance relationships it has and its key learnings. Also, talk with other collision repair facilities that are on the same DRPs about how they’re successfully managing them. If you have access to desk review, take advantage of it – this can save lots of time and headaches with supplements.
Focus on the customers. When you’re doing DRP work, your customer is also the insurance carrier’s customer. You have to keep in mind that how you perform impacts that customer’s overall satisfaction with their carrier. Treat the customer right and that will create two satisfied parties: the consumer and the insurer.
As a collision repair facility owner who wants to ensure a steady flow of business to all three of my locations, I highly recommend building your DRP business. There are a lot of considerations to take into account when pursuing DRP work, but if you have the right processes, people and reporting, you can make it a very successful part of your business.