The working relationship between Progressive and collision repairers is improving. At least that was the general consensus among repairers who attended the 4th Annual Midwest Collision Forum in Columbia, Mo.
Chris Andreoli, corporate claims process manager for Progressive, addressed the insurer’s new claims initiative and other concerns. According to one observer, most participants seemed to agree that although not all issues have been resolved, there have been strides made in the business relationship between Progressive and repairers over the past year. One shop stated this was a milestone because, until the meeting last year, it seemed no one had been willing to listen to repairers’ side.
Craig Brace of Pure Marketing in Columbia, Mo., opened the forum by presenting observations of body shop marketing from an outside consumer’s perspective, along with some innovative new ways to brand businesses. He explained that there was a variety of low- or no-cost ways to “brand” a particular facility, such as using the Internet, a commonly underutilized resource.
Karen Fierst of KarenOr Consultants gave an update on ongoing efforts in Washington to enact repair clause legislation that would allow alternative crash parts to be exempt from patent infringement, similar to legislation that already exists in Europe and Australia. Fierst also conducted a survey concerning alternative parts usage in the industry, and then presented results to the attendees in the afternoon sessions to show trends in alternative parts usage and perception.
A majority of the survey respondents said that there is a place for aftermarket parts, but the survey also revealed that most repairers still have concerns about quality. Only one out of the 18 repairers surveyed said he makes it standard operating procedure on every aftermarket part order that he will only accept CAPA-certified parts. That single person also said he checks for a seal. All other respondents indicated that they don’t check to see if they received a certified part. They said that since they told their distributors at some point in the past that they wanted certified parts, those are what they get all the time.
Instructor Toby Chess presented an interactive session geared at helping shop owners improve their bottom lines. He showed that omitting minor items can significantly affect the bottom lines of repair shops, and that shops must continue to bill for items and services they perform regardless of whether they think insurers might attempt to deny the charges.
Attendees also had the opportunity to listen to and interact with State Representative Steve Hobbs and State Senator Wes Shoemyer, who have reportedly been strong allies of collision repairers over the years. They emphasized the need for unity on issues and active participation in the legislative process.
Following lunch, Chess and David McCreight, co-founder of Collision Resources, Inc., answered questions about lean manufacturing processes and ways to begin the lean conversion. McCreight then spoke about production processes similar to Toyota’s where production is maximized with a minimum of resources.
An open forum session where several issues were discussed capped the day. The issues discussed were:
- Blend within panel
- Capping of materials
- Lack of unity among repairers
- Rate suppression
- Environmental issues (new EPA reporting rules, carbon foot printing , etc.)
- Professionalism of repair facilities
- Restrictions on who paint may be sold to
The Midwest Collision Industry Forum is presented annually by AASP of Missouri, ASA MOKAN and SCRS MOKAN. For more information, visit www.missouricollisionforum.com.