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Founder says, “The independent repair industry is at the brink of extinction. If we don’t act now, there will only be the ‘insurance repair industry.'”
After running body shops in the Netherlands for more than 22 years, Irene Sommeling came to the realization that the main problem shops face is a universal one: insurance companies using tactics to maximize their profits and minimize the shops’ profits. That’s why she created the TBORI (Taking Back Our Repair Industry) association: to unite collision repairers and speak with one voice against the increasing control insurers are exerting over them. She calls TBORI a “secret global association,” meaning that members stay anonymous so they can speak openly without fear. Their website is www.takingbackourrepairindustry.com.
“We need to have synergy with each other and open communication without intimidation or dirty tricks,” says Sommeling. “We channel to one voice. We want to become the global voice of the repair industry, because we have limited fighters willing to take a stand for their industry."
She adds, “It’s all about fear and intimidation when you deal with the insurance industry. We don’t want to get rid of our insurance contracts, but we cannot work any longer under their restrictions. There have to be changes in the repair industry.”
Sommeling, who now consults with collision shops through Management XXL, teamed up with Bob McLaren, owner of McClaren Auto Body in Scotland, and Ron Alford, a consumer advocate and founder of The Quality Information Institute in the U.S., to start the association as a way to educate consumers and discuss industry issues.
“No individual company can win this game,” says Sommeling. “Uniting as one voice will ensure that nobody will be put out of business for ‘telling it like it is.’”
Sommeling says TBORI offers repairers advice on:
• How to get paid for what they do
• Taking back control of their business
• Educating consumers on their insurance policies
• Educating repairers on OEM repair methods
Also, TBORI guarantees that its members do high quality and safe repairs due to soliciting consumer feedback and performing annual quality and safety audits.
Sommeling says TBORI also has legal experts, consultants, trainers and teachers from whom repairers can seek advice. She says TBORI is asking their suppliers for support, too.
“The suppliers exist because of us, so we’re asking them to support us and donate money yearly to a marketing fund with which we can start a campaign on radio, TV, newspapers, etc.,” she says. “They, too, have to promote us as the voice of the repair industry.”
“We’re only interested in people who want to help themselves,” adds Sommeling. “It’s clear to us that you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. We’re here for repairers if they need us. It’s their freedom of choice, but now there is one voice for the global repair industry for those who are on a mission to get the industry and their business healthy again. The independent repair industry is at the brink of extinction. If we don’t act now, there will only be the ‘insurance repair industry.’”