Q&A: CARFAX Answers Questions About New Collision Repair Data Reporting - BodyShop Business
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Q&A: CARFAX Answers Questions About New Collision Repair Data Reporting

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

Ever since CARFAX unveiled its new Repair Advantage
Program (RAP) that will enable it to include collision repair data provided by
data partners in its well-known vehicle history reports, repairers have been
eager for more specifics.

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BodyShop Business recently conducted an interview with
Nancy Fiorino, director of RAP, and Gerry Bayer, vice president of data, to
address the as-of-yet unanswered questions the collision repair community has
about the program.

BSB: Where do you get this information? One repairer said
he purchased a vehicle that his shop did over $20,000 of repairs to and the
report didn’t reflect that.

Fiorino: We’re primarily getting it from our data
partners, such as OEM-certified programs or certified shop preferred networks
or any specific industry partner that touches a network of collision repair
facilities. That data is being gathered specifically with not only our
partners’ consent but the shops’ consent as well. Because the program is still
in its initial roll-out, clearly there’s going to be tons of repair data that
will not be reflected on the CARFAX reports. The reason for that is because we
don’t want to go out and get that data from third-party sources that may or may
not own that data. Also, if we did that, we couldn’t verify that data.

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Any industry partner that we know
is a verifiable industry entity is where we’re getting the data. That’s key because there’s always concern
about the validity of the data we receive, and one of the ways we structured
our program, at least in this early stage, is to work with known entities so we
can be assured that the data we’re getting is valid. I can tell you that those
verifiable industry entities so far don’t include any of the database
information providers such as Mitchell or CCC.

Bayer: It’s important to note that we do not work with
aggregators or collectors of data. That’s a "no-no" for CARFAX because we’ve
found that they don’t really own the data and wouldn’t distribute it with the
consent of the individual shop or insurer. We’re more interested in direct
relationships with consolidators, OEMs and insurers so that we can treat the
data as they would want to see it treated. We want to emphasize the strength of
the relationship between CARFAX and that provider of data because there has to
be a win-win: What is that value proposition where the provider of that data
can feel good about offering this data and be able to make the case as to why
this is good for everybody?

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BSB: What is the process for submitting this information?

Fiorino: When we embark on a relationship with a data
partner, we work with them to reach out directly to those shops that happen to
be involved in that program. So the consent is given from both parties. If
there are any issues or concerns with shops, we address those individually with
them. They have complete control of their destiny. The only exception is in
situations where we do get explicit consent but some of the programs mandate
that they report the data, and then it’s the shop’s decision as to whether or
not it wants to continue to participate in that program.

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BSB: Could a lone shop that is not part of any program
report data right now?

Fiorino: As the program evolves and expands, we’re going
to look at the opportunity to provide mechanisms directly to the shop to
actually give us its enrollment form. We’re working on that process, and there
are some details that need to be dealt with, but ultimately our goal is to
allow quality shops to be able to participate even if they aren’t involved with
a specific data partner. Right now, I can’t collect data from every repair
facility on the planet because I can’t validate that data.

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Bayer: We receive damage data from so many sources, and
the damage casts a negative on the vehicle, and that’s why we sincerely want to
get quality repairers to be able to redeem it because well-repaired vehicles
are well-repaired, and we believe that wholeheartedly. But I think that often
it’s confusing when somebody says, "Oh, they have a record on there about a
vehicle I worked on," but that record may have come from another source, such
as a police officer, salvage pool or recycler. If the shop has information that
would help us further clarify things, fine. The information we have doesn’t
clearly indicate what you believe happened in the repair of that vehicle, so
why don’t you give us that information to help us describe it properly?

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BSB: What specific information will be reported?

Fiorino: It’s driven by the data partner. For example,
with a couple of our OEM partners, one of their key benefits is to be able to
confirm that X percentage of OEM parts were used. That doesn’t mean that on
every repair record, you’re going to see the same information. You may see, "It
was repaired by XYZ quality facility and it’s under warranty." There could be a
whole litany of ways the record is displayed, but it really has to do with what
program that repair was associated with.

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BSB: How many shops have you gotten on board so far?

Fiorino: We have several thousand shops we’re on-boarding
in the initial stages of the program. We’re seeing the same shops over and over
because they’re the top tier providers in the industry, the very professional
shops. So even though we have a smaller shop population, we’re still capturing
a very large share of the collision market based on what those shops’ volume
is.

BSB: When is this data going to be available on reports?

Fiorino: Once that data is loaded, it’s available
immediately. But whether the consumer sees it or not is another issue because
industry statistics show that typically when there’s an accident event, either
the car goes back to the retail pool or there’s an average 18-month window
when that vehicle may be sold. So the data will appear to the consumer when
somebody inquires about that particular vehicle or VIN.

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BSB: How do you control the accuracy of the info?

Fiorino: Based on our data sources, we’re confident it’s
accurate. If there is an issue, we have an entire department devoted to
researching that incident to make sure it’s accurate. For example, there was a
CARFAX report where one of our insurance partners said, "We don’t think this is
really what happened," so we investigated that and got more information from
that party. We’re not in the business of auditing estimates or repair orders.
We’re relying on that these are professional shops in professional programs and
most likely these reports are accurate.

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Bayer: Here’s an example on the service side. Service
Link is where we get data from over 10,000 dealers and 8,000 to 9,000 shops.
For a service like an oil change, we probably have 70,000 iterations of how
they would describe an oil change both from how it’s abbreviated to what other
services are being provided along with the oil change. So we’ve had to map
70,000 iterations in order to clearly describe that a vehicle’s oil was
changed.

We’ve done similar work with the body shop in order to
clearly describe what has taken place with a vehicle, and we’ll continue to
look at this as we move forward, both from a tech standpoint and a parts
standpoint. We’re going to get more and more sophisticated in terms of parts
identification. We can’t afford to be wrong because we don’t want people to say
that’s not really what happened. That’s costly to us.

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BSB: Do shops have any incentive, as you see it, to report
this info?

Fiorino: There’s so much benefit to it. One is the
opportunity to put out the actual data of how a vehicle was repaired to
indicate the quality of the repair, and that in and of itself fills a huge data
gap. I can look at two reports: One that says there was an accident and I don’t know
what happened, and another one that says there was an accident, but oh by the way, it
was repaired to these exacting standards, and that puts a whole different value
on that vehicle.

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Equally important is that the collision repair facility
will be branded on that repair report with CARFAX, which allows them to
demonstrate that they’re part of this elite group of shops that performs high
quality repairs. That’s a significant amount of exposure to the consumer in a
very positive way.

Collision repair has always had a tough sell because the
only time a consumer talks with their friendly body shop is when they wreck
their car, so we think this is a really good way to put a shop’s quality information out there
in a much more positive light. I would say 99.9 percent of the shops we’ve
dealt with truly see the value of that. Positive marketing, great brand
association – it’s a win-win.

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BSB: Will shops perceive this as a way for consumers to
know who to sue if the car fails in a collision?

Fiorino: That illustrates why it’s even more important
for shops to give us their data. If a consumer
owns a vehicle that has been repaired by two different shops, only one of which
is giving us data, I don’t know what repairs that other shop did. But the shop
that is on the report can document what it did and prove it isn’t on the line
for the repair that perhaps failed.

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I think every industry struggles with that liability
question with or without CARFAX, and I think that’s indicative of why a lot of
insurers are starting to move toward guaranteeing those repairs. And in that
scenario, it’s crucial that that information is documented and reported to a
neutral third-party such as CARFAX.

Bayer: It’s a glass half-full or half-empty scenario. If
you document repairs you did to a vehicle and someone comes back and says this
specific part of the vehicle appears to have a problem, you can show that
wasn’t part of the event which you were asked to repair. It provides shops
cover because it discloses what they’ve done and why, and they have work orders
to validate it. If there’s a problem with a vehicle, the consumer will come
back regardless of whether or not a shop discloses the repair information. So
by disclosing it, the shop can say it’s proud of what it did and has warranted
the repairs and prove it didn’t touch that part of the consumer’s vehicle. The
CARFAX report validates that.

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