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Industrywide Communication Gap

Until we develop uniform guidelines for the blending process to inform and educate insurers and information providers about what’s required, ignorance will cost us productivity and profits

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Since there’s been an ongoing debate within the industry about blending, I was curious to see if the Automotive Service Association (ASA) had any guidelines for it. I called Sharon Merwin, Collision Division manager at ASA headquarters and found out that while no formal guidelines are currently in place, ASA has been working extensively for the last four years on important issues that center around communication problems existing among information providers, repairers, insurers and paint companies.

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Along with I-CAR and the aforementioned parties, ASA has participated in industry meetings to work on developing clear language and terminology for the blending operation process so all parties involved can help develop a set of uniform guidelines for blending issues.

“[Confusing language, terminology and nomenclature] has been a big issue that’s really affected everybody out there for a long time,” says Merwin.

ASA is currently working on spot repair vs. blend interpretations (some insurers consider them to be two different issues), blend vs. tint interpretations and numerous issues that deal with confusing language problems as they relate to information providers’ estimating systems.

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ASA has also met with major paint companies. They, in turn, have shared their recommendations as to what’s required for spot repair and blending at industry meetings. The goal is to inform and educate insurers and information providers about what’s required regarding paint operations so they’ll be able to better understand the need to develop language in the estimating systems that separates and limits the reasons for blending: blend for repair, blend for color match and refinish within panel boundaries.

During an industry meeting earlier this year, information providers told ASA they were incorporating language into their systems that would prevent users from doing things like selecting a repaired panel if they were also blending. One company’s system doesn’t allow combined blend and repair operations because they feel that blending doesn’t apply to repaired panels.

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It’s all about communication and clarification. For the good of the industry as a whole, isn’t it about time for all the players involved in this game to pull together and clear up the muddy waters that cost everybody productivity and profits?

With so many variables involved, unless guidelines are developed to help educate everybody on what the issues are and offer reasonable solutions for addressing them, things will probably get worse before they get better. How can shops that are “certified providers” for paint companies honor warranty program requirements if information providers’ estimating systems don’t allow for the entry of procedures that are required to meet certification criteria? How can insurers provide repair shops with workable estimates if they don’t know or understand the needs of the repairers? The muddy waters will just get muddier and deeper unless repairers and everybody else involved take an active role in making wants, needs and problems known.

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