Publisher's Perspective: We Have Hit the Big Time
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Publisher’s Perspective: We Have Hit the Big Time

The aftermath of the Anderson Cooper 360 report.

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Wow, looky there, my friends, we made the silver screen! I’m not really sure I ever thought during my time in the collision industry that I would see our industry showcased on TV. But it happened, and now we have to deal with it.

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Yes, I’m talking about the CNN special done by Anderson Cooper. Many of us caught wind of the special the week before and reported that it was on the way.

I got a bit nervous when the network kept delaying it. First, it was not ready, and then they decided the Brian Williams fibber story was more important. Finally, we all got to see it and all of our industry’s warts up there on the screen.

Do we all feel better now? Was it any different the next morning when you arrived at the shop? Of course it wasn’t. I don’t mean to be skeptical here, but our expectations for change have to be realistic.

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This industry got to where it is over many years. Our labor rates are low, our profit margins are squeezed by the payer who doesn’t even own the vehicle we’re repairing, and consolidation is happening at a ferocious rate. We all know it’s that way, and we shouldn’t get our hopes up that one Anderson Cooper 360 report is going to revolutionize it.

My real fear is that this will merely provide one more distraction to all of us. In January, I challenged each of you to give me one thing you were going to work on in 2015. Then last month, I challenged you to get together with an association so your voice could be heard. Did anybody do it? If not, will you ever do it now that you have this distraction? If you did do it, are you still working on it? Therein lies my concern. We’re still the ones responsible for putting that two-year-old vehicle back together per safety specs and to the approval of the vehicle owner. Oh, and by the way, make a buck while we’re at it.

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It’s awfully hard to do this when we’re worrying about changing an industry. I’m not saying don’t work at change, but do it in a manner that’s healthy. Do it together and deal with the facts. This is business. Get rid of the emotion and the smoke. Channel your efforts to ways that promote positive change while tending to your daily job of keeping the 252 million cars and trucks on the road safe. This is a great industry, so let’s not let the spotlight cloud our vision of the future.

P.S. I’m wearing my black tuxedo on the red carpet at NACE.

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