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Don’t Be a Jackass

Writer John Shortell’s opinion on the industry’s left-wing, defeatist attitude and the insurance industry

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Writer John Shortell is body shop manager at Secor’s Collision Technology in New London, Conn. He’s been in the collision industry for more than 20 years and has developed computer software for body shop scheduling called BodyShop Schedule Pro, for subletting towing called Tow Bill Helper and for printing estimates in dollars called Dollars & Sense. For more information, visit www.bodyshopsolutions.com.


I’m going to catch hell for this column. Roughly half of you will be infuriated. I’m hoping that the other half of you will either agree with me or at least give it some thought – otherwise this industry is screwed.

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Just like this country is sharply divided politically, this industry is also. And unless you’re some spineless politician trying to buy votes by pleasing everyone, you’re going to piss off the opposition. So I might as well have fun doing it.

We all know an election is coming soon. And no matter what you do, you can’t avoid getting involved in it somehow. The constant political advertising is numbing – unfortunately, not enough to anesthetize the pain.

This coming election is arguably the most important election in modern history. As much as the media and the left whine and throw tantrums, terrorism is a real and an immediate threat to everyone in this country. The next president will have the power to save our country from economic ruin, or worse, from ruin due to terrorism. Or he can leave us slaves to our fear.

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Since you’re reading BodyShop Business, chances are, you’re the owner or manager of a body shop. Several discussion boards on the Internet are directed at this same group of people.

You’d think these business people would be pro business, right? That most of them would be Republicans. After all, they’re independent, small-business people. They’re entrepreneurs. They’re risk-takers.

As such, they belong to a group of people who employ most of the people in this country. They’re the archetype for the American Dream.

Yet I’m constantly trying to figure out just how our industry got where it is today. You know, underpaid, underappreciated and having the reputation of the fat, disgusting rip-off artist with a stinky cigar hanging out of his mouth and a mile of butt crack hanging out of his pants.

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How did this industry become a slave to the insurance industry, doing its dirty work for a few pennies and the privilege to serve them? Recently, a hint to these answers was revealed to me on what’s currently the most popular collision repair discussion board.

When Ronald Reagan died, some mean, inhumane Republican had the nerve to post a few nice words about him on this discussion board. Holy crap, you’d think Dick Cheney posted some nice comments about George Bush on an Al Qaeda discussion board.

Reagan was attacked and the poster of the message was attacked, which prompted an avalanche of criticism against the current Republican administration and all this other baloney about an unjust war, the mean rich, Haliburton, blah, blah, blah …

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So how does this have anything to do with anything that concerns me and the collision industry, you ask?

Look, you don’t have to be the inventor of the Internet to understand that political philosophies will influence the way you run your business. And there are huge differences between the political left and right.

Just in case you’re a graduate of our government school system, I’ll outline the differences for you.

The left believes everyone should be equal. If certain people don’t feel equal, government should take things from those who have more and give it to those unfortunate people with less. Lefties believe in moral relativism. There’s no defined line of right and wrong. If you can convince people that robbing and beating an old lady to death is absolutely necessary to fill your crack pipe – which you need to smoke because your great, great, great, grandfather was a slave – then you get to delete that line of right and wrong.

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Left wingers believe nothing is their fault. All their ills are directly related to actions of others and have nothing to do with their own actions or the choices they’ve made during their lives. They’re poor because the rich are rich.

Liberals who have somehow managed to be successful and are comfortable financially believe it’s their duty to help the “less fortunate” by relieving middle class and wealthy conservatives of their hard-earned money.

You’ll never find wealthy liberals getting together and donating large portions of their own fortunes to the “less fortunate.” Wealthy liberals have one purpose, and that’s to convince poor liberals that their needs can only be met by voting wealthy liberals into office to ensure government takes care of them.

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The evil Republicans, however, have that nasty habit of believing in clear moral choices. They leave no room for judgment based on what our dead ancestors went through more than 100 years ago. They believe that everyone is responsible for their own actions.

Mean conservatives believe that equal opportunity is due everyone. If they don’t want to work, they shouldn’t have to work. But (and get this), they hate paying taxes to support people who don’t want to work. They respect the right of citizens to work just 40 hours per week so they can have plenty of time to watch television, play video games, surf the Internet and protest the war.

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But the mean bastards don’t believe the greedy folks who work 50, 60 and 70 hours per week should help the leisurely types pay for their cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, big screen televisions, abortions, demonstration signs and “Celebrate Diversity” bumper stickers. Can you believe that right wingers even complain about giving up 50 percent of every dollar they make just so the government can pay for everything the left wingers believe should be guaranteed them just for being an American citizen?

Wealthy conservatives run the evil corporations and the small businesses that employ tens of millions of “less fortunate” liberals. Poor conservatives quietly go about their business working hard to raise their families, attending church (gasp!) and paying their taxes. But you can’t get the damn fools to gather in large groups and protest the government.

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Is any of this making any sense to anyone? Or are you so angry at me right now that your head’s about to explode?

The major complaint everyone has about our industry is the influence the insurance industry has on us. Too many of us complain and whine, yet do nothing to help ourselves. Those damn evil insurance companies. Those greedy corporations. It’s all their fault!

No, it’s your fault!

This left-wing defeatist attitude is the reason the insurance industry rules your business (if that’s how you feel). Truth is, no one can rule over you unless you let them. Just like liberals have been calling for negotiations with the terrorists, many in this industry want to work with the insurance companies. Unfortunately, you can’t work with a group who wants to dominate or destroy you.

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Insurance companies are businesses, not nonprofit, charitable foundations organized for your benefit. Unless you’re a shareholder, you’re either a customer or an adversary.

The insurance industry violates anti-trust laws as often as Bill Clinton violates his marriage vows. They break the law daily in every part of this country by steering, lying and conniving, not because they want to, but because they can. Because we let them.

They’re the terrorists that our industry must conquer. Negotiating with them is not an option. And simply complaining will do nothing.

“Boo hoo. They’re greedy.”

“Boo hoo. They steered my customer to a DRP shop.”

“Boo hoo. They won’t pay my labor rate.”

“Boo hoo. They’re building a shop next door.”

Quit whining! What the hell are you going to do about it?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself like every other bleeding-heart loser in this country. If you want to gain control of your industry, you’re going to have to fight for it. You’re going to have to compete for it. You’re going to have to take action.

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The government is not going to help you, no matter who’s in control, Republicans or Democrats.

You’re afraid of angering the insurance companies, just like the Demo crats were afraid of angering the Soviets, just like they’re now afraid of angering a bunch of terrorists.

If we piss them off, they won’t send us any work and they’ll badmouth us. They’ll ruin our business. If we piss off the terrorists, they’ll kill more Americans.

Grow up! The insurance industry is ruining your business, and you’re playing all nice, nice. The terrorists will kill Americans and try to attack us no matter what we do, save for the entire American population breaking five times a day to face Mecca and pray to Allah. Wouldn’t that be great for national productivity?

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Appeasement will never get you anywhere in life. Respect is the key to peace. If our industry wants peace with the insurance companies – if we want a relationship based on equality and fairness – strength is the only way to reach this goal. Strength will earn this industry respect from the insurance companies. Appeasement will not. Respect will put our industry on equal ground with the insurance industry. The government cannot.

For those of you who still don’t see the connection between your political philosophies and your future in this industry, I cannot help you. You’re beyond help. Vote for John Kerry and the rest of the rich Democrats pandering to your helpless feelings. Continue to whine and complain about your circumstances. Watch as the world passes you by. Live with resentment as the insurance companies reap the fruits of your self loathing.

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If your political philosophies are on par with this half of the American population – who’s satisfied with mediocrity, the half who believe self-determination is a fair cost for government-guaranteed happiness – then go ahead and vote for the rich Democrats. They’re more than willing to yield to your every need as long as you keep them in power.

But please, sell your body shop to a Republican so we can, once and for all, take control of our industry.

Writer John Shortell is body shop manager at Secor’s Collision Technology in New London, Conn. He’s been in the collision industry for 20 years and has developed computer software for body shop scheduling called BodyShop Schedule Pro. For more information on the software, visit www.bodyshopsolutions.com.

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Editor’s Note: Special thanks to BSB intern Beth Morgan, who made a brave trek to find and pose “Walter” the donkey, specifically for you, our readers.

*** The views expressed in this guest editorial do not necessarily reflect those of BodyShop Business.

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