This article originally appeared in the August 2010 Issue of INSIGHT
©2010 Collision Repair Industry INSIGHT All Rights Reserved
Industry professionals interested in learning ways to improve efficiency and reduce “come-backs” will soon have a new training resource from the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR). On September 7, I-CAR will premiere its newest training program, Inspecting Repairs for Quality Control (QUA01). The course marks the first I-CAR training opportunity to be offered as either an instructor-led course taught in the classroom or an online course.
Bill Stage, I-CAR Director of Marketing and Distribution said, “Interest in improving efficiency continues to grow as members of the inter-industry look for ways to improve customer satisfaction through achieving complete, quality repairs - the first time. This new training opportunity, offered both live and online, reinforces the importance of quality control and outlines important steps to take when conducting inspections both during and after the repair process.”
Stage continued, “Every individual involved in the repair process, including those in roles of repair facility supervisors and managers, is a stakeholder; and identifying the steps taken during a vehicle inspection plays an important role in completing a safe repair. Those who are responsible for the repair quality and completeness of repair network participants, like insurers, fleet managers, and rental car companies, will also benefit from this training.”
I-CAR’s new course, Inspecting Repairs for Quality Control will help students:
Registration for Inspecting Repairs for Quality Control is currently open for the classes. New classes are being added to I-CAR’s class schedule on a continual basis.
Information on scheduled instructor-led classes can be found on the I-CAR website at www.i-car.com or by contacting I-CAR Customer Care at 800-422-7872. The online course will also become available at www.i-car.com/online beginning September 7.o
Disputes over the cost of proper automotive repairs between repairers and certain insurance companies are becoming a common occurrence, according to Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) Executive Director Charles Bryant.
“Over the past few years,” he said, “and especially since recent insurance reforms resulting in Progressive Insurance Company returning to New Jersey, a large number of AASP/NJ collision members have reported extreme difficulty in reaching agreements with Progressive on the cost to repair collision-damaged vehicles.” AASP/NJ has repeatedly suggested that members invoke the appraisal clause as the fastest and most economical means of quickly resolving these types of issues, but the shops have been running into more and more problems lately with insurance companies like Progressive.
“On a repeated basis, AASP/NJ members have in-voked the appraisal clause when these kind of disputes arise. Invoking this procedure has repeatedly resulted in increasing the claim settlements – sometimes by thousands of dollars more than what Progressive was originally willing to pay,” Bryant stated. “However, Progressive recently began to claim that their policies do not have an appraisal clause, or that the appraisal clause had been revised and now only applies to disputes on the value of a total loss vehicle. This is unacceptable.”
AASP/NJ is presently addressing this with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to get to the bottom of the allegation that Progressive Insurance Com-pany has either altered or removed the appraisal clause from its auto insurance policy presently sold in the state, and if so, what it means.
“We are going to figure this out,” Bryant added. “Our members are struggling enough without having the rules changed unbeknownst to them.”
Paint manufacturer Valspar has opened a new, expanded office for its consumer division which includes the sales and marketing staffs for the new PlastiKote in Chicago, Illinois. “As Valspar and its brands, including the new PlastiKote, continue to grow, it made perfect sense to have one central location to best serve the needs of our distribution and retail customers,” said Lance S. Bunch, category manager of automotive aftermarkets and industrial distribution MRO for Valspar Corporation. “Whether it’s providing top-notch sales service or successful promotional programs, we aim to exceed our customers’ expectations and help them grow their business. With our entire team under one roof, we are able to work even more effectively on their behalf.”
The Valspar Corporation recently unveiled the new PlastiKote brand of innovative paint and automotive touch-up products. The PlastiKote line consists of enhanced product formulations that are specially designed for a professional, flawless finish. In addition, the new PlastiKote brand features a sleek new logo, newly designed packaging and a web- site designed to highlight the its product options.
In other company news, the Valspar Corporation has reported results for the third-quarter ended July 30, 2010.
Third-quarter sales totaled $873.9 million, a 10.0 percent increase from the same period last year.
Net income for the third quarter of 2010 was $75.1 million and reported earnings per share were $0.74. Net income for the third quarter of 2009 was $65.0 million and reported earnings per share were $0.61.
“We were pleased with our earnings performance despite the impact of significant raw material inflation,” said William L. Mansfield, Valspar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The success of our new business efforts drove our double-digit top line growth. Looking ahead, our results will continue to benefit from new business and operational discipline. We expect to deliver fiscal year 2010 adjusted net income per share in the range of $2.15 to $2.25.”
During the quarter, the company also completed a transaction to purchase metal packaging coatings assets from DIC Corporation, a Japan-based specialty chemical manufacturer, and sell metal decorating inks assets to DIC. The transaction included sales and DIC’s manufacturing site in Bangalore, India. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair (CCAR) has announced that 17 Caliber Collision Center locations in California and Texas have received the GreenLink Shop recognition. The shops are:
The GreenLink Shop status, an extension of CCAR’s CCAR-GreenLink(R) Environmental Compliance Assistance Center and S/P2(R) (Safety and Pollution Prevention) E-learning Program, is designed to promote consumer confidence in local automotive repair facilities’ environmental/safety awareness and stewardship.
Founded in 1997, Caliber Collision Centers operates over 75 collision repair facilities in California and Texas. The 17 recognized shops are participants in the GEICO Auto Repair Xpress(R) (ARX) program. CCAR and GEICO are partnering to promote the GreenLink Shop designation for GEICO’s ARX facilities across the United States.
Steve Grimshaw, Caliber’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “Caliber’s participation in the GreenLink Shop program is a natural fit. Like our partners CCAR and GEICO, we share a strong commitment to safety, training and environmental responsibility. We are very proud of Caliber’s GreenLink Shop status as we strive to be the collision repair provider of choice in every community we serve.”
“The Caliber organization continues to exemplify excellence in operational best practices in the automotive industry, and CCAR is proud to be one of their partners,” said Daren Fristoe, CCAR President and Chief Operating Officer. “The collective recognition of GreenLink Shop status further solidifies the reputation of Caliber and their commitment to workplace safety and environmental policies and procedures.”
Repair facilities seeking the GreenLink Shop recognition must maintain high standards of excellence in environmental, health and safety (EHS) practices in four categories: business operations, employee training, safety compliance and environmental management. The CCAR initiative recognizes both auto mechanical service facilities and collision repair shops, with separate criteria established for each type of business.
R. L. Polk & Co. has renewed its corporate sponsorship of the Global Automotive Aftermar-ket Symposium (GAAS) for 2011. The provider of data-driven solutions and automotive aftermarket intelligence, R. L. Polk & Co. has been the corporate sponsor of GAAS since 2003.
GAAS 2011 is scheduled for May 18 and 19 in Chicago.
“I am excited to announce that our longtime partnership with R. L. Polk & Co. continues,” said Dave Caracci, chairman of GAAS. “I appreciate Polk's renewed commitment to our event that helps educate our industry's leaders and also provides scholarship funds for students who want to pursue careers in the aftermarket.”
Mark Seng, vice president, R. L. Polk & Co., said, “We are pleased to extend our support as the corporate sponsor of GAAS. The Symposium is an important opportunity for top managers in the aftermarket to expand their knowledge base and learn the latest business practices from top experts. GAAS is the single greatest opportunity each year for industry education and we are proud to be associated with this prestigious event.”
Under the agreement, R. L. Polk & Co. will present the prestigious Polk Inventory Efficiency Awards at GAAS 2011. This is the seventh year for the awards which recognizes and rewards outstanding aftermarket companies for process improvements relative to inventory efficiency. Winners of these awards will have demonstrated a positive impact on one of the largest problems in the aftermarket—inventory efficiency.
The Symposium brings together industry leaders and experts to examine the issues and trends affecting the worldwide automotive aftermarket and influencing its future. For more information on GAAS 2011, visit www.globalsymposium.org or phone (301) 654-6664.
Founded in 1996, GAAS has become the premier industry conference for senior-level aftermarket executives. The net proceeds from the event go toward funding industry scholarships. In 2010, 86 U.S. and eight Canadian students who plan careers in the automotive aftermarket received GAAS Scholarships to help get their industry careers started. In the fourteen years of the program, more than 1,500 students have received aid totaling more than $1,500,000.
The I-CAR Education Foundation has introduced a new program for collision career and technical schools and colleges. Starting this fall, all secondary and post-secondary technical schools and colleges that have a collision repair program will be invited to complete a “Collision Repair School Solutions” survey. The foundation will use the results to track general program information, key academic performance indicators, and program needs for new tool and equipment to train the students.
As an incentive to complete the survey, Mitchell Interna-tional has made an unlimited donation of their RepairCenter with TechAdvisor and Ultramate Basic software to collision repair school programs. These products, valued up to $2,500 per multiple-user license, will serve as an excellent teaching tool for instructors, and give students experience navigating the same systems that are used in collision repair businesses today. Depending on the number of schools that complete the survey, Mitchell International’s annual donation could exceed $600,000.
“The Collision Repair School Solutions survey is designed to look closely at the state of collision education and identify areas where we can help,” said Scott Kruger, Executive Director of the I-CAR Education Foundation. “Everyone knows that technical education in this country needs support, but it has been difficult to draw a direct line between donations and better performance in the collision industry. This survey will provide the data to not only track historical trends, but also to see if we are actually helping schools and meeting our organizational goals.”
The I-CAR Education Foun-dation is currently working with other information solutions, systems, and software providers, including independent providers and OEMs, to offer their repair and estimating information systems to collision repair schools. Schools will be required to retake the survey on an annual basis in order to renew their subscription to the Mitchell software and any other software licenses.
“Mitchell’s gift is both extremely generous and the catalyst to creating real change for the better within our collision repair schools,” added Kruger. “Both of our organizations are very excited to see how students will benefit from having this information in hand and the creative ways educators will use the system in the classroom and on the shop floor.”In addition to the pledge of their software products, Mitchell International has also pledged $10,000 to the Collision Repair Education Campaign, and has donated several reconditioned laptops to be distributed to collision repair schools and students.
The questions on the “Collision Repair School Solutions” survey were designed to provide the Education Foundation with important information about collision school enrollment, placement, personnel, facilities, and equipment, and will help the Education Foundation create metrics in which to measure the success of the collision education system going forward. In addition, the survey will gather information from schools on their individual, specific needs so that the Education Foundation can approach potential industry donors with these specific needs in mind.
The I-CAR Education Foundation, founded in 1991, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to securing donations that support philanthropic and collision repair education activities that promote and enhance career opportunities in the industry.o
Kyle Claypool from Optima Worldwide Limited, a website development and design firm specializing in collision repair industry websites, has been named the SkillsUSA Technical Expert for the web design competition of the WorldSkills Championships. Claypool, son of Mark, a veteran SkillsUSA team leader, will serve as a member of the WorldSkills International Web Design Contest Technical Committee, and will be a judge at the WorldSkills Champion-ships in London late next year.
In addition, Claypool will be responsible for training the USA competitor, Brett Patterson, of Lansing, TN, who will join 19 other competitors on the SkillsUSA 2011 World Team.
“It’s an honor to be selected to be on the web design contest technical committee for the WorldSkills Championships,” Claypool remarked. “I’m looking forward to working with Brett in the months to come to prepare him for the rigors of this 4-day competition where he’ll face the best in the world as well as the challenges of language and cultural differences that are unique to WorldSkills.”
A new survey found that when it comes to parts suppliers, collision shops prize order accuracy most, are not overly interested in electronic parts ordering, and are not very satisfied with the quality of remanufactured or non-OEM parts.
The survey by phone and fax of 300 shops was commissioned by the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) parts committee earlier this year. It asked shops to rate nearly two dozen attributes of a parts vendor on a scale of 1 to 10, with the higher number indicating a higher level of desirability.
Perhaps not surprisingly, order accuracy, quality parts, competency and helpfulness of the parts personnel, timely delivery and undamaged parts topped the list of shop’s desires.
A large parts inventory – something many dealers tout in their advertising to shops – finished about in the middle of the 21 attributes.
Least important to shops among the attributes were the proximity of the supplier to the shop, and promotions or trips and merchandise awarded for purchase loyalty.
But perhaps discouraging to OE Connection and InfoMedia was the fact that the ability to order parts electronically received an average importance rating of 7.32, indicating that 17 of the 21 other attributes were more important to shops.
Still, nearly 3 out of 5 shops responding say they use one or both of the electronic parts ordering systems. The rest said they don’t use them because they prefer the personal contact with the vendor by ordering via phone or fax. Some non-users, however, also cited a lack of dealer participation as the reason they don’t use the systems.
With regard to non-OEM parts, the survey found that over half of the shops said their vendor does not supply them with return-rate information on a particular part. Eighty-two percent rated the quality of non-OEM parts as “7” or lower on a scale of 1 to 10.
Remanufactured parts fared slightly better, with 37 percent rating their quality as an “8” or higher.
Complete findings of the study are available on the CIC website: www.CIClink.com.
It was twenty years ago that Farmers Insurance took to the podium at a Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting held in Seattle to announce it was among the first of the major insurers to launch a direct repair program.
Insurers ever since have occasionally used the CIC forum to announce new or revised programs and policies impacting collision repairers.
State Farm became the latest to do so, announcing at CIC in Chicago in July that its “Select Service” shops will now receive a 3-digit number - similar to a credit score - from the insurer based on State Farm’s measurement of the shop's performance.
The number, on a scale of 1 to 1,000, will be updated monthly and is established using a proprietary formula that takes into account the key performance indicators (KPIs) State Farm uses to track each shop's performance.
Specific KPI data will still also be shared with the shop, according to State Farm's George Avery, but the new score offers a quick way for a shop to understand how it is doing in terms of State Farm's measurements.
The report also indicates how the shop's number compares with other shops in the program (even taking into account, Avery said, such things as differences in the types of vehicles repaired). It also lists three areas that the shop could focus on to improve its score.
“It gives you a tool to self-manage, and we think that’s in the best interest of the customer and us and the repairer,” Avery said.
Avery said implementing the new score does not signal any new planned reduction in the number of Select Service shops, though the company continues to change the number of shops on the program in some markets based on its capacity needs.
Also at CIC in Chicago, a committee working to create collision repair standards offered a glimpse into what could happen with those standards once completed. Jeff Patti, chairman of the CIC Industry Standards Committee, outlined the proposed creation of a non-profit organization that would oversee the development and implementation of the standards. Although designed primarily to prompt discussion of the topic, Patti’s proposal included details down to the level of potential costs for launching such an organization and possible fees for those wishing to participate.
A number of CIC participants said that although they are appreciative of the committee’s efforts, they had concerns about either the process being used to create the standards or the development of a new industry organization that might lack the credibility or resources to manage the project.
Patti said a meeting to discuss just such issues is being scheduled for Las Vegas this November 4, the day following the next regular CIC meeting.
In other news at CIC in Chicago, Mike Quinn, co-owner of Arizona-based 911 Collision Centers, was named as the next chairman of the conference. Quinn has been a long-time participant at CIC as well as in the National Auto Body Council (NABC). His company operates seven shops in Arizona and Nevada.
Quinn will succeed Russell Thrall who completes his second year as chairman at the last CIC meeting of the year on November 3 in Las Vegas.
John Edelen said that three years ago when he stepped out of retirement to take on the role as CEO of I-CAR, someone well-known and respected in the industry asked him why he would “waste his time” with an organization that was “no longer relevant.”
That question surprised and angered him, Edelen said, knowing the industry had spent more than $170 million over 30 years to build I-CAR into the leading technical training organization.
It also has remained in the back of his mind, he said this summer at a meeting in Chicago, as he has overseen a 3-year project to overhaul I-CAR in an effort to ensure its training and recognition programs are focused, valuable and meaningful for the industry.
The result of gathering input from I-CAR volunteers, instructors and all segments of the industry, Edelen said, is its new "Professional Development Program," launched this summer.
Under the program, I-CAR has identified the knowledge required for three levels of development ("ProLevel 1, 2 and 3") within each of seven job classifications, such as "estimator" and "non-structural technician." Other job classifications will be developed over time.
The I-CAR or other training and testing recommended to reach each of the three levels is also identified, providing job-specific training paths.
The "Platinum Individual" and "Gold Class" recognition program requirements will also transition over a three-year period. By 2014, the "Platinum" designation will require having completed the training to obtain "ProLevel 3" in the appropriate job classification as well as completion of six hours of training per year. A "Gold Class" shop will be required to have at least one "Platinum Individual" in each of four types of jobs (estimator, steel structural technician, non-structural technician and refinish technician).
Details on the new training and recognition programs is available at the I-CAR website (www.i-car.com).
In other changes, I-CAR executives at the Chicago meeting said there will be more variety in the length of classes (Currently most are four hours.) based on necessary content, and pricing is also likely to change, although they did not provide details. More online training options are also planned in the coming months.
The response from those willing to donate vehicles and related services to National Auto Body Council’s (NABC) Recycled Rides has so far this year reached levels unprecedented in the history of the initiative.
The list of those wishing to become a part of the simultaneous vehicle donation program to improve the image of the industry is long and impressive. Included are insurance companies like Allstate, American Family, AMICA, Esurance, GEICO, Progressive, Republic Insurance Group, State Farm, Travelers, USAA, and AAA. Strategic industry partners like 1?800?Charity Cars, Hertz, and Enterprise have stepped forward as well. In most cases, these companies are heavily involved in donating vehicles on which participating shops can work - a good thing, since this year NABC is on target to reach the goal of donating 150 cars to needy families and charities.
“We are very appreciative of the strong response we have received from insurers; their participation is crucial to the success of Recycled Rides,” stated Nick Notte, Recycled Rides chairman and president of Sterling Auto Body. “Many vehicle transformations are already underway, but there remain additional opportunities for insurers and others to donate vehicles."
The impressive growth of the program in 2010 is no doubt due, in part, to the fact that the Collision Repair Industry received lots of positive exposure last year thanks to the 78 families and charities who received Recycled Rides vehicles. Participating shops, insurers, charities, and vendors received hundreds of thousands of dollars in local media exposure.
Any collision shop, insurer, vendor, parts provider, or other company interested in participating in the 2010 Recycled Rides initiative is encouraged to contact NABC’s administrative office as soon as possible at 888.?667.7433 or e?mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Recycled Rides program is a National Auto Body Council initiative that involves all segments of the collision repair industry, including repairers, insurers, and industry vendors, who come together to give away reliable transportation to families and charities in need. This year’s Recycled Rides target donation date—known as Ride-Away Day—is November 22, 2010, the Monday before Thanksgiving.
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