News: Consolidator Report
The Society of Collision Repair Specialists was super excited when it recently announced the availability of unique new health solutions available exclusively for its members. Their goal was to raise the standard of care for those in the collision repair industry.
BodyShop Business interviewed SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg and Decisely Senior Vice President of Business Development Eric Frazer on this new healthcare offering and how it could just be the answer collision repairers were seeking when it comes to quality health coverage for their employees.
BodyShop Business: Give us a little back story on how SCRS found Decisely.
Aaron Schulenburg: Decisely is a company we started a relationship with in 2018 to try and design a healthcare plan for our membership. We had all these members coming to us saying, ‘One of the biggest challenges I have in running my small business is being competitive and providing healthcare. And my healthcare costs go up every single year, and they suck.’ You have all these businesses that are spending all this money and all these families that are spending all this money for coverage that is ultimately only in the event of a catastrophe, right? They’re not getting much. They hate using it and it’s a big pain point. And we had all these businesses that said, ‘If there was a way that SCRS could help leverage the size and scope of its membership and find something that can help us improve this, that would be really helpful.’
We looked at a lot of different program designs, a lot of different providers and a lot of different plans. We also looked at what other associations were doing. We looked at changes as the administration switched in Washington from one regime to another through election cycles. We saw changes in some of the laws that opened up the opportunity to have association healthcare plans and evaluated those, and then saw the resistance at the state level. We found a variety of different things that maybe seemed like good ideas, and the more we got into them, the more they didn’t seem to fit our model or what we were looking for. It was really important to us at SCRS that we find something that accounted for smaller businesses, something that extended across the whole country. We’re obviously a national association, and we were really uncomfortable with the idea of launching a regional plan or a smaller plan and telling some members, ‘We’ve got something for you,’ and telling other members, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have something for you.’ It was really important that we were able to extend across the country. There’s always going to be some minor state laws that maybe require some different solutions, but we were able to navigate through that and find something.
The other thing that was really important to us was not just to lower costs for the employer and for the employee, but to raise up the quality of care and make sure that they got something better than what they could get on their own or what they had already. And so I think that was the charge that we set out with Decisely: how do we find something that reduces cost and improves the quality of care and offering that makes us not just more competitive against bigger businesses in the industry, but more competitive against other industries that are trying to attract the same talent pool of skilled workers and new entrants into their industry as well?
BSB: It sounds like SCRS did a lot of the legwork for shops that they typically have to do in finding a quality health insurance offering. Does a shop have to be a member of SCRS to take advantage of this?
AS: You don’t have to be a member to explore the offering through Decisely, but you do have to be a member to participate in it. But anybody can take a look at it and see if it fits — and that’s anybody in the collision space, not just collision centers. So, jobbers and manufacturers can look into it too. As long as you’re in the collision space and you fit that criteria to become involved in SCRS, you can absolutely shop the plan and then you can join as a member if you’re not already able to take part in it. What we found is participants are seeing an average savings of around 10 to 15%, which is huge.
An example came across my desk the other day of a business that had 11 employees participating in their plan that saw about a 16% reduction. I saw one earlier this morning that had 30 employees and had a 12% reduction. So we’re seeing a consistent 10 to 15%, up to 20%, savings versus renewals. If you’re a business that’s spending $250,000 to $350,000 a year on health coverage, 10 to 15% is a pretty sizable amount that goes back to your bottom line or back to other resources that you can help provide to your employees above and beyond.
One of our board members, Michael Bradshaw, was one of the early adopters. He called me and said, ‘Look, I have a technician and his wife’s pregnant. And they did an analysis of my existing plan with this new plan, and they, as an employee, were going to save almost $6,000 out-of-pocket between the no-cost services that were part of this plan versus what his original plan was.’ And that’s where you start looking and going, ‘Man, this is meaningful in people’s lives.’ And that feels really good for SCRS to know that the work we put in over the last five years in searching for the right plan paid off in a program that is able to make a meaningful difference.
BSB: This industry has an employee retention problem and a problem attracting the next generation. How is this new healthcare option going to help out in those two areas?
AS: At the end of the day, we’re looking to attract younger talent into our industry, and I think benefits are certainly something that are incredibly important to all generations of workers but also to the younger generation. But the reality is that there are a lot of different trades that they can find themselves in, and we want to make sure that we’re competitive with those other industries to give them a comfortable spot that will keep them happily engaged in the industry. You hate to see somebody go through school and then choose to exit out to somewhere else because we’re unable to compete.
This new health plan is competitive with anything else I’ve seen out there. My wife is a speech language pathologist and works for a hospital system, and we stacked this plan against the plan that she gets through her hospital system, and this plan is significantly better. What it offers — the no-cost services, the employee choice on out-of-pocket expenses, the zero deductible, the total family spend — all of it stacked up better against what she was able to get through her hospital system, which I think we all felt was premier-level service to begin with. So I think that this really gives those small businesses that are trying to find a way to create a lifelong home for the people that they’re attracting into their business the ability to retain them because they can provide them with something meaningful.
Eric Frazer: Obviously, employee retention has always been important but has ramped up significantly since COVID began. Healthcare has been a problem for a long time. But after COVID and some of the economic changes and employer changes around the country, it’s almost hit this boiling point where businesses are just done with the old way.
With health insurance, I myself prefer the high-deductible model and the HSA account, for example. It’s all I’ve done since it was introduced. That’s what I want to do because I get to save on taxes and other things, right? But I will tell you, it’s entirely unusable healthcare. And if I was anyone but the person I am in this industry, I would not want my plan. I would take it for the tax advantage because I know how to work things to my advantage, but I’m not the norm.
You want a health plan you can use, right? You want to pay for something as an employer, and as an employee, that you can actually get a benefit from. That’s why it’s called a benefit. So, from a recruiting and retention standpoint, small shops around the country can now compete with large businesses that are buying in bulk that get better product and better pricing situations. Also, they can now offer a product that is very usable, and that’s now the recruiting/retention differentiator.
BSB: Eric, explain in your own words what your company, Decisely, is all about.
EF: Decisely has a unique mission in that we are very focused on improving healthcare to small and mid-size businesses. Most of our competitors focus on a larger business profile because it’s more profitable, but we aim to serve the underserved portion of companies. And our mission is to do it at scale and do it more efficiently and better and profitably for that type of industry. That’s what Decisely is — we’re aggregating healthcare and doing it at scale and efficiently and easily through technology, and we’re disrupting how it’s brought to the underserved market, which is small businesses.
Small to medium-sized companies could have their next-door neighbor as their agent and they could truly help you, and that’s how a lot of that business is around the country. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re really trying to move the needle and improve the system and the access and availability of unique products and healthcare to that segment, you have to do it at scale. You’re not going to change healthcare just one 10-employee company at a time without the model we’re doing it in. I’m a huge believer in relationships and small businesses, but you also have to find a smart way to deliver the change to them.
AS: Every business in our industry constitutes a small to medium-sized business, right? So I think Decisely’s focus falls squarely in an industry like ours. It fits really well.
The other thing is, as we looked at a lot of these solutions that Decisely brought to the table, a lot of them were poised to focus on small businesses but had larger minimum requirements, so it required you to have 25 or 50 employees enrolled. And when you look at the makeup of our membership, that’s not really the small business that we’re used to serving, so you would have a lot of members who would otherwise be underserved or not be able to take advantage of the offering just based on size alone. So when you start getting down into plans that help employers with 10 employees who are participating, that starts to look a lot more like what our industry looks like, while still providing a ton of advantages for multiple-location or larger businesses that have a large subset of employees.
SCRS spans the full spectrum, where I can be talking with a shop that’s got 10 employees, and five minutes later I’m talking with a shop that’s got over 300 employees. Both of them are looking for the same thing, which is: ‘How do I get better care at lower cost that gets my employees more engaged?’
When we started offering this plan versus previous plans, I think members consistently saw about a 25% uptick in employees who took advantage of this plan over previous ones they offered, because a lot of those employees were otherwise relying on their spouse’s plan. So when you’re offering something that your employees are opting out of it because they can get something better outside of that, and now all of a sudden you’re offering something and you’re actually winning the business from their spouse’s plans that are available to them — that’s how you keep the employee with you, right?
BSB: Is there anything else you gentlemen want to add?
AS: As a reminder, you don’t have to be a member of SCRS to explore this new healthcare option. Anybody can go to scrs.com/healthcare and fill out the basic necessary information, and then Decisely is going to be able to go through a quoting process to actually bring that information and help give a comparative analysis. Like we discussed, we’re seeing an average between 10 to 15% savings. And when you compound that with 10 to 15% savings from where you are today, coupled with the fact that you’re likely going to see a rate increase when your renewal is up, it could end up looking even larger.
I think the other thing is, I talk to a lot of businesses who are not up for renewal yet and say, ‘Well, I’m up for renewal in July. I’ll take a look at it then.’ Personally, I wouldn’t wait. I would look now, because I think it gives you the best information today to move forward with making the decisions and going through the processes that will be necessary to introduce a new opportunity to your team. Everybody who has gone through this process has remarked how excellent all the elements are — the platform that their employees get to engage with once they’re onboarded, the quoting experience and ultimately dispersing it through their team.