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Below is an e-mail received by Charlie Barone, one of BSB’s contributing editors:
Your an idiot. I will not waste anymore time explaining why.
Concours Auto Works
West Allis, Wis.
A few things about this e-mail:
- Charlie Barone is not an idiot. He’s been in this industry for decades and knows his stuff. The article that prompted this e-mail was, “Who’s Really in Control?” In it, Barone contends that insurers do not control collision repair pricing. I’m guessing Emil doesn’t agree.
- Always think twice before calling someone else an idiot. Can you find the three grammatical errors in Emil’s e-mail? (Answers are at the bottom of this article.)
- If you, as shop owners, want to be viewed by consumers and the insurance industry as professionals, act like professionals – always. It’s OK to disagree with someone, but don’t get personal. Says one New Hampshire shop manager: “If these guys treat insurance adjusters the way they treat each other (yelling, calling them names, attacking them personally), it’s no wonder their negotiations don’t go well.”
- For whatever reason (for many reasons), the repair industry isn’t unified. Says one Indiana repairer: “The collision repair factions are at one another’s throats. No cohesiveness, no sharing, no exchange of information.”
This inter-industry hostility reared its ugly head again over a paint-matching article we ran, written by shop manager Mike Muir. The main point of contention: The photo revealed that the roof rack had been masked, not removed. Many repairers (rather than contacting Mike and simply asking him why they’d done the repair that way) preferred to make assumptions and to even go so far as to attack him personally.
Turns out, the owner had left the car the night before and gone on vacation – without leaving the roof rack keys. Since they couldn’t remove the rack, they masked it and opted for a clear “open” blend. Agree or disagree with Mike’s decision. That’s not the point. Also, the article was about paint matching – not blending. But, well … that’s not the point either.
The point is the lack of unity among shop owners. Which works out great for the insurance industry. As long as you’re alienated from other shop owners – especially those in your local market – you’ll remain ignorant about your market.
Some shop owners, however, are beginning to realize the benefits of communication and unification. A major benefit: You’re not so easily manipulated …
- An Ohio shop owner recently told me how he’s benefited from joining an association. “At our meetings, we discuss our problems,” he says. “That’s really helped a lot. It’s kind of hard for an insurance company to tell you they’re not going to pay you for something when the guy sitting next to you is telling you that they do pay him.”
- The Arizona Collision Craftsmen’s Association (ACCA) successfully lobbied for House Bill 2468, which was recently signed into law. This anti-steering legislation prohibits insurers from “steering” consumers to a particular collision repair facility. Says Dan Hunsaker, ACCA president and an Arizona shop owner: “Through the passage of this bill, the ACCA … has demonstrated what can take place when a group of people unite under a single purpose.”
- An Allstate appraiser used the now infamous mantra: “I get agreed prices with every other shop in the area at $42. You’re the only shop asking for more.” But John, the manager of this Connecticut shop, wouldn’t budge. The next day, John got a call from the shop manager at a dealership down the street. He called to inform John that this same appraiser had just told him that she gets agreed prices at $42 per hour with John all the time. Unfortunately for her, this manager had just received a copy of John’s latest area labor rate survey. (Yes, shops can – and should – do local labor rate surveys!) Because he knew what John was charging, he knew the adjuster was lying.
“This was a calculated attempt to falsely control the market,” says John. “She was trying to trick him into accepting a low rate by lying about other shops accepting that rate. Then she’d have a shop that really was accepting this rate. Before you know it, everyone is working at that rate, afraid to lose business to their competition who, they were told, worked cheap.”
Or, as one shop owner in Hawaii says: “Divide and conquer.”
Georgina K. Carson, Editor