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Get to Know the DEG

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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.

he Database En-hancement Gateway. It sounds a little like a term you might hear in a Star Trek episode, doesn’t it? (Cue Star Trek theme song): "All crew members brace yourselves, we’re putting the ship into warp drive to reach the Database Enhancement Gateway!"

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But it has nothing to do with space or science fiction at all. Better known as the DEG, it’s a website (www.degweb.org) that was created in January 2008 to allow collision repairers to get answers to estimating questions relating to information providers’ database times.

The groundwork of the DEG was laid by the late March Taylor, who was so passionate about making sure that the database information reflected the real world that he collected, researched and processed hundreds of database inquiries at his shop, Auto Body Hawaii.

Even though the DEG has been around now for two years, I’ve realized throughout my travels that many repairers still don’t know it exists. Here we finally have an easy, efficient and effective way of addressing database dilemmas that cost us untold dollars each year, and not enough repairers are utilizing it.

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As a repairer, you might be wondering:

“Why is there so much difference between ABC and XYZ information providers’ paint labor hours?

“I have an estimate from XYZ insurance company on a 1998 Honda Civic. According to ABC information provider’s database, the paint labor on a front bumper cover is 1.9 hours, and the rear cover is 2.0 hours. Clearcoat is 1.3 hours for a total of 5.2 paint labor hours.

“However, XYZ information provider’s hours on the same vehicle and same procedure are 2.6 for the front cover and 1.0 for clearcoat. The rear cover is 2.6 and 1.0 for clearcoat for a total of 7.2. That’s a two-hour difference between each information provider!”

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You wouldn’t submit the inquiry in paragraph form like this – there’s an electronic form on the website you have to fill out with specific information. But this is a great example of the kinds of inquiries the DEG handles.

It used to be that no one knew what to do or who to contact when they found that a database value was off. If they contacted the information provider directly, sometimes the response took longer than they liked. But thanks to the DEG and the cooperation of the information providers, the process is now streamlined. Repairers get a confirmation e-mail within 24 hours of posting the inquiry, and the DEG strives to achieve an average resolution time of 48 hours, depending on the amount of research needed.

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One success story involved welded panel operations for a 2003 Mercedes SL500. The issue was that the current database of one particular information provider allowed 6.5 hours for replacement of the spare well with no time for access involving the rear panel, front and rear crossmembers and rails. It was suggested to raise the labor allowance to 23.0, consistent with other information providers.

After doing some research, the information provider explained that the 6.5 hours did not include time for removing necessary parts and assemblies. It then upped the hours significantly with labor notes based on different scenarios involving parts removal.

With the DEG fast approaching 3,000 inquiries, Administrator Bud Center is confident that the number of repairers who use it to their advantage will continue to grow.

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“We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m absolutely confident that with repairers, information providers and the DEG working together, we’ll
continue building on our current success and the invaluable service the DEG provides to the collision repair industry,” says Center.

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