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Parts Is Parts…Or Is It?

Publisher Scott Shriber encourages collision repair facility owners and managers to do their homework on parts procurement.

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When I was first introduced to the automotive business, it seemed things
were much more simple. I know that sounds familiar and borders on being
trite, but I think in some ways it’s true. Quality parts and price were
the main decision points, and those were the battles we all fought.
That’s not so today.

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In September, I had the opportunity to sit in
on the Northeastern Ohio Automotive Service Association (ASA) Town Hall
meeting in Cleveland. It was an excellent and well-organized event
facilitated by ASA Collision Division Manager Denise Caspersen, and
there were many shops, suppliers and dealers in attendance. Why such a
broad and complete audience, you might ask? Because the topic is the
most controversial issue in the collision market today.

That
topic is parts procurement and what influence an insurer should have in
supplying parts for a repair. Of course, I’m speaking of the State Farm
parts procurement program.

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Parts procurement makes the whole
thing sound rather simple, doesn’t it? Well, this issue is anything but
simple. (Remember, that’s why I’m writing this in the first place).

Electronic
parts ordering isn’t new to this industry. As many of you know, I was
involved previously in developing one of the well-known electronic
ordering systems in the market today. The basic premise is simple, but
the implementation and effect on other aspects of the business are not.

I
do not intend to explain or defend the current issue in our market in
this column. I do intend to urge each of you to read up on the issue and
get involved where you see fit.

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Don’t spend time on the
emotional rhetoric being thrown around, but focus on the issues that
could affect your business today and in the future. Read everything
State Farm has to say to the industry and any communications your
business receives from them. Spend time understanding the news about the
subject reported from reliable sources. Finally, pay attention to
information sent out by your associations. ASA is an excellent advocate
and seems to be doing a great job of communicating information on this
parts program.

This is a complicated issue and not one that’s
likely to be solved quickly. You are all independent business people,
and you need to exercise that independence and make good decisions based
on sound reasoning. Speak up now while this program is in the formative
stages…or get ready to live with what others decide.

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