A highlight of AASP/NJ’s NORTHEAST 2023 Automotive Services Show was the panel discussion on “Slaying the Dragon: Manageable Actions for Shop Success” which featured AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant; AASP/NJ Board Member Ken Miller; Robert McDorman of Auto Claim Specialists; Ron Reichen of Precision Body & Paint Inc.; and Lucky Papageorg (AASP/MA). The panel was moderated by veteran journalist Joel Gausten.
As a business owner or manager, the everyday challenges can sometimes seem insurmountable, but even the toughest dragons can be slain with a little preparation.
The first dragon they tackled was the insurance industry as Gausten asked for insights from shops that have moved away from the DRP model.
“Quite a few shops in New Jersey are no longer DRP, and I don’t know a single one that’s unhappy with that decision,” Bryant said.
Papageorg agreed. “Shops getting off referral lists are finding that they can keep their customers by educating them. They’re no longer covering the cost of doing business right and allowing insurers to get away with refusing to reimburse them for it.”
When it comes to OEM certification, Gausten asked if shops are just giving up control of their businesses to a different entity, but Reichen suggested that certification is more about brand loyalty.
“Vehicles have become so complex,” he said. “We’re no longer a trade; we’re a skilled profession, and when you embrace that mindset, your entire organization has to reflect that.”
Cycle time always presents challenges, but according to Miller, today’s biggest delays are no longer caused by supply chain shortages.
“Getting approvals from the insurers currently causes the biggest delays due to supplements and denials. Self-pays get through the process much quicker.”
Looking to future dragons that the industry can anticipate down the road, panelists indicated that it’s time for shops to charge what they’re worth, even when that means billing copays to customers.
“Change is difficult and hard to embrace,” said Jerry McNee, president of the AASP/NJ. “Fear prevents us from moving forward, but insurance companies rule with fear and intimidation. It’s tough to make these decisions when you’re on an island by yourself, and that’s why attending events like NORTHEAST is so imperative. Educate yourself and then you can educate the insurers. We have to learn and advance as an industry.”
“We encourage what we allow,” said Reichen. “If you don’t discipline a child’s bad behavior, you’re essentially encouraging it. Likewise, if you allow something to go on in your shop, you’re encouraging it to continue. The only way to get it to discontinue is if we stop allowing it.”
Plans are already underway for NORTHEAST 2024, scheduled for March 15-17, 2024 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. For more information, visit aaspnjnortheast.com.
For more information on AASP/NJ, visit aaspnj.org.