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BREAKING POINT

Let’s hope it doesn’t get there

Publisher’s page by DARRYL SIMMONS

The response to my last column, “The Tipping Point” was a lot greater than I had expected. Thank you for sharing your concerns. Letters via email came from across the country and each one was saying the same thing. As a shop owner or manager, you know only too well the situation. There’s no reason to get into all the details. The main point is that progressive, well-trained and well-equipped shops are not making enough money based on door rates paid by the insurance companies. And the biggest problem: there always seems to be a shop willing to work for the lower rate. It’s a race to the bottom. In that race, nobody wins.

Profitability is not a dirty word. Without it, collision centres are unable to attract new people, nor are they able to invest in new training and products. Without profits, we risk the ability to safely perform vehicle repairs. The responses I received were all anonymous or asked not to be quoted. Not only is this very telling; but it is also very disconcerting and scary. It should be terrifying when an industry is afraid to speak to partners. No sector of the industry was spared from the scathing comments. Each was given some share of the blame: insurers, manufacturers, suppliers, banners and investment funds and even the media including Collision Repair magazine.

It’s crucial that the voices of these repairers not remain silent. It’s frightening to know that they felt the need to remain anonymous, that they could not stand up and say freely what was on their mind for fear of repercussions. It is painstakingly clear shop owners want to publicly air their concerns without repercussions. Yes, we do have opportunities for manufacturers, insurers and networks to get together and discuss things, but it’s the collision centres themselves that need to have a voice to speak. You are the ones doing the work and are the ones who face the customer on a daily basis.

We need your help, as readers and shopowners, to give us some direction how to initiate positive discussions with all industry partners. And these must include measurable goals. Is this something that could be done in a public meeting? Can it be done by a Zoom meeting or webinar panel? That’s the approach we are working on currently here at the magazine.

Raising awareness of the issue is important, but it’s already done. Everyone is aware. Knowing there is a problem is a good first step, but we are past that. It’s time to get some workable solutions developed. Based on the responses, we at Collision Repair are working on opening up dialogue with all partners in meaningful discussion in the hope of setting some serious changes in the works. It’s a small step, but hopefully one in the right direction.

According to one writer, I “may have bitten off more than I could chew,” when I asked for feedback. They may be right, but let’s do all we can to avoid moving “The Tipping Point” into “The Breaking Point.”

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One Response

  1. The industry needs a national coalition of independent shops that can speak with one voice to educate the consumer, insurance companies and government at all levels. Collusion shops know what the challenges are but have they told their story properly to the stakeholders that can actually influence change? For example, are consumers aware of what aftermarket parts are? Are they concerned or even aware about the diminished value of their vehicle after an accident? How does the collision industry compete with other Four Year Trades with the low door rates that shops are currently with? Who decides how a vehicle should he repaired? – the manufacturer? The insurance company? – the estimating database company? It is time that independent collision shops stand up and tell their story.

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