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By the Numbers: The Numbers Don’t Lie

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

Ever hear of the saying, “The numbers don’t lie?” For the most part, it’s true. A simple example is the win-loss record of a sports team. A coach can talk all he wants about how much effort his team has been putting forth all season and how each game could have gone either way, but if his team has, say, a record of two wins and 10 losses, those numbers point to a serious deficiency with the team. And, in the end, he can’t ignore that record. Referring to it, he’ll say, “We are what we are.” So, the numbers don’t lie.

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The numbers in our Industry Profile starting on pg. 44 don’t lie, either. They’re a product of the excellent research department here at Babcox Publications. The department handles a wide variety of surveys, typically sent to subscribers of the company’s eight monthly magazines via e-mail, facsimile or postal service. Sometimes telephone interviews are even conducted.

Overall, the department supports our magazines’ editorial function by providing details about how markets are evolving, variables impacting the individual subscribers and key challenges they face. It also supports advertisers by analyzing existing data to extract key information unique to those advertisers’ needs and performs unique research projects specifically for them. These might involve brand awareness, features and benefits of products, brand image or market trends.

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Bob Roberts heads the department as manager of market research. He’s one of the best at what he does. Research has been his game for a long time, and was one of the duties he fulfilled at the previously named Firestone Tire and Rubber Company here in Akron, Ohio for 20 years prior to being hired by Babcox.

Bob’s the one who compiled the results of six different surveys sent out to six random samples of BodyShop Business readers. Exactly 1,200 of the surveys were sent out to each of the six random samples of readers, and the response rate was seven percent.

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“Each questionnaire dealt with a specific topic within the collision industry, but several questions also appeared on all six questionnaires,” says Bob. “This provides a larger base for questions like employee pay, DRP involvement, labor changes, etc.”

The questions on each survey were carefully crafted by the editors, and we feel the response from the industry was good. We think the statistics we got back on the percentage of shops involved in DRPs, the percentage of shops losing business due to insurer steering, the average body labor rate per hour, the average number of years in the industry per shop owner and more within our Industry Profile are an accurate reflection of what the collision repair industry is today.

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The last Industry Profile we published was in the May 2003 issue of BSB. The surveys had been conducted every year for over 20 years prior, but we decided to take a breather after ’03 and come back to it in a few years to see if any of the numbers significantly changed.
One that comes to mind this year is the percentage of DRP shops that believe the concept of DRPs is good for the industry. In ’07, only 36 percent of DRP shops said the concept of DRPs is good for the industry, compared to 65 percent in ’03. Obviously, more collision repair shop owners, even those who have business relationships with insurers, have grown cold to the concept of DRPs, due to what they say is ever-increasing pressure from insurers to discount services. The recent letter to the industry from CARSTAR (pg. 77), if nothing else, sends the message that even professional shops that are running efficient businesses and doing everything right are feeling this effect.

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So take a close look at our Industry Profile and ask yourself if the statistics within it jive with what’s going on in your shop. After all, the numbers don’t lie.

Jason Stahl, Managing Editor
E-mail comments to [email protected]

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