How Far Should You Go to Keep Your DRP? - BodyShop Business
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How Far Should You Go to Keep Your DRP?

Even mega shops are starting to feel the pain from being on DRPs. As they say, give away the farm and eventually you may not have one left.

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Writer Bob Winfrey is owner of All Precision Collision Repair in Marshville, N.C.

You “bend over” shops all know who you are. Whether you have one DRP or more, you’re making some type of “concession” to keep your insurance partners happy. To some of us, it seems like you’re on a drug and can’t get away from the pusher.

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I read the new Select Service agreement from State Farm and couldn’t believe that anyone in their right mind would even sign the document, never mind abide by its terms. How could you stay in business? You would have to give the “partner” the lowest labor rates that you would give your grandma if she wrecked her car.

If State Farm mines all the data from your computers and, during subrogations, finds out you charged insurance company “A” less per hour than you charged them, you’re off the program. You also have to clean, pick up and deliver vehicles for free. Also, replace the fuel you used if you drove the car back and forth; process total losses for free; turn in a complete estimate within 24 hours of receiving the assignment; pay car rental when you go over the formula used to determine how long the vehicle should take to be repaired; and guarantee repairs for life and pay another shop to do re-repairs if you get caught fudging something to meet cycle time.

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What are y’all thinking? Why don’t you just hand them the keys to your shop and just keep paying the bills for them?

Some of you have even paid to have cameras installed in your shops so that your “partners” can watch you work on their customers’ cars. Or now you’re a “concierge” shop that has a full-time estimator on Progressive’s site with tools to disassemble a vehicle. Then the job goes to the lowest bidder, so why bother taking it apart? Then, they want you to use untested suspension parts, used airbags, Taiwan sheet metal, bumpers and headlights that don’t meet government or the OEM’s regulations or guidelines.

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I could go on about the liability all of you are assuming by doing what your partners have programmed for you. I could tell you to check your garagekeeper’s policy to see if you’re covered for your misdeeds – you’d be surprised. My carrier, The Hartford, told me that you can’t purchase insurance to cover whether you’re a good technician or not. If you put a wheel on and it falls off, the wheel, lug nuts and broken studs aren’t covered, but whatever damage the wheel does coming off and stopping is covered. Apply that to a car you just clipped to save your partner some money on a claim. How does that work for you?

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You mega shops are starting to feel some of the pain now. Even the smaller DRPs are seeing a drop in customer claims. Higher deductibles, higher parts costs, airbags (I counted 12 in a minivan I recently worked on), hybrids, aluminum chassis, boron steel and the new generation of colors and coatings. How are you keeping up with the equipment and training to stay on top of proper repairs? Our techs have to do more and be more skilled than most mechanics but yet they work for one-fourth of the pay. It’s amazing that there are any techs left given what shops pay them. Some of you are trying team-type assembly line tactics. How’s that working for you? It can’t be working too well because I read that we’re losing at least two shops a day. I saw 18 bite the dust a couple months ago. Keep giving away the farm, my dear ol’ dad used to say, and you won’t have one.

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I for one am getting paid for everything I do, and I do mean everything – including washing the car when we get done with repairs. I make it a point to let the customer handle his or her own problems with his or her insurance carrier. The insurance company has tried for years to put me in the middle of its contract with the customer, but I refuse to deceive or shortchange any customer. You DRPs withhold information like the CIA.

Our two local DRPs don’t even give the customer an estimate or a repair bill – both of which are laws in North Carolina. I see this whole situation as the shops’ greed for the jobs the “pusher” is giving away, except they always cost something. Look at AAA allegedly selling, blackballing and threatening shops recently in California. It even put some shops out of business. It takes more than a bottle of booze and a $100 bill taped to the bottom of it to get work nowadays. One of our local shops supplies fishing trips on a privately owned yacht that features a captain, food, wine and even female entertainment if so requested. I can’t hang with these guys.

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A line has to be drawn in the sand, fellow shop owners, and I wouldn’t wait too much longer or you may not have enough left to save yourself. I banished an adjuster from my shop last week for threatening my livelihood. I may have wasted some paper writing the CEO of his company, his supervisor, his supervisor’s supervisor, the Department of Insurance and the Department of Justice in my state. If more partner shops would read the writing on the wall and step up, they might have a chance.

Remember the slogan “Just Say No”? Try it – or are you too scared?

Writer Bob Winfrey is owner of All Precision Collision Repair in Marshville, N.C.

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