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PRESS RELEASE: WMABA Adds West Virginia to Membership Territory

WV_state copyThe Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) announces today the addition of West Virginia as a state it will represent within its membership territory, as the association also prepares to turn the mid-century mark of fifty years in operation.

Excited by the addition, one specific West Virginian has led the charge to see the Mountain State join the fold. Steve Krieps, Shop Manager for Greg Cline Automotive in Winfield, West Virginia, and the newest board member of WMABA, commented on the inclusion process, saying, “The collision repair industry is changing at a rapid pace. As vehicle technology advances, the repair process must evolve as well. As repairers, it is absolutely critical that we stay informed on local issues, and act when necessary. We must educate our consumers so they can make informed decisions and stay consistent with our training, to benefit of consumer safety and quality of repair.

WMABA has been navigating the socio-economics and technical aspects of the collision repair industry for nearly 50 years. With their presence at trade conferences across the country, they are on the forefront of progress. This partnership with WMABA will be instrumental to the Mountain State, and we are ecstatic and honored to be members of the WMABA family. We are more than prepared for a brighter future.”

“WMABA has two major milestones cresting into 2018 with the 50th Anniversary and now the West Virginia addition,” commented WMABA President Mark Schaech, also Vice President of Mark’s Body Shop in Baltimore, Maryland. “I am so pleased to see this new growth, probably to go along with additional re-branding opportunities, and the excitement of this is very refreshing. As collision repairers, we can get bogged down in the minutia of shop life. It’s easy to lose sight of all we are really capable of when we lock together. It could be the best thing to happen in my time with WMABA, both on the board and as a longtime member.”

Coming in the near future, WMABA will also release additional information about the anniversary and initiatives in the works for continuing to be at the forefront of education, mentoring, and membership advocacy. The entire Board of Directors of the association are pleased with the potential opportunities these milestones offer.

For more information, please go to www.wmaba.com or contact Jordan Hendler, Executive Director of WMABA at (804) 789-9649 or jordanhendler@wmaba.com

By |September 21st, 2017|News, Press Releases|0 Comments|

When Does Darwin Arrive?

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.

As a Christian, I’m to believe in Creationism, but as a working person in the collision industry, I do believe Darwinism has a rightful place in this world; especially, the business one.

There’s a bit of a sigh here at WMABA headquarters, when we start talking about proper repair procedures. The sigh usually comes after a call with an elite repairer who is not getting reimbursed for an OEM procedure by an insurer, and they either feel disheartened and defeated or mad as a hornet. I hang up feeling precisely the same way.

Larry Montanez, Mike Anderson, Aaron Schulenburg, and a slew of other industry notables are constantly giving sermon to the repair industry about what it means to be a respectable repairer, and what those repairers do to differentiate themselves. They have the current equipment required of OEM programs, they follow repair procedures, they constantly train, they pay attention to the national scene, and so on and so on. Above all else, they adapt to change. (Keep in mind, this is regardless of being DRP or not, so no excuses.)

So, the question I have is: When do the “bottom feeders” get culled out? When do those who give no regard to doing the right thing get the chain, the hook, the rope? How can we “evolve” and leave those amoeba creatures behind, when we all know that the state of technology in today’s vehicles is demanding it with an iron fist?

I have no answer. I would like to think there is a government agency, peer pressure, whistleblowing, lawsuits, or something to point at to save the day. We get a new sheriff in town, if you will. Trust me, my level of frustration is same to those who fight daily to get their proper repair procedures, fair labor rates and times, and material reimbursements paid for without a slew of back-and-forth or “maneuvering”. It’s simply exhausting.

Therefore, what is a half-century old association to do? We berate the Bureaus of Insurance, go to the media, stomp and shout, and hope to get the message heard. There just isn’t going to be any change unless nagging occurs. Relentlessness should win the day, and to only balance those who relentlessly dig their heels to move in a thoughtful direction.

Let’s give evolution a shove, shall we?

Summertime and Magic Wands

Whoever said “summertime and the livin’ is easy”, has never been in collision repairer. Okay, Ella Fitzgerald clearly didn’t fix cars.

Start of Summertime

I’m going in two directions this month: Number one, we just had a fantastic, fabulous Golf Outing. It was the one hot day so far this year (of course), but it beats the heck out of a torrential downpour! It was a great time, and there was a great reception and fun people all around. Again, we cannot thank our supporters and sponsors enough for all the hard work they put into helping, too!

And now for number two, which I offer as some insight. We have had numerous calls for issues by repairers, something that is seemingly growing in frequency and intensity. It most certainly is spelling trouble for our industry, in my opinion, and I think that your willingness to submit all issues – minor to major – is also a factor. Many of the complaints center on reimbursement problems for operations; some are for third-party vendor issues, while other are the usual Labor Rate complaints.

Troubling me the most are now several years’ old operations that still seem “misunderstood” by our insurance counterparts. When the OEM repair procedures document specific calibration operations (on top of scanning, mind you), then how is that confusing? How is it not necessary? Even if something is new-ish or presented differently in recent history, it most certainly doesn’t mean it is bad or needs to have a “case-by-case” basis approach.

Speaking of the case-by-case basis approach, I find this to be even more troublesome of a tactic to negotiate repair methodology for each and every car. It isn’t even logical. How can a post-repair scan/diagnostic scan – with the same procedural information – be deemed necessary on a Mercedes and not a Honda by the same person with the same company? In the outset, this only looks like a cost-control mechanism and not a safety determination for proper repairs overall.

Furthermore, it is a way that our entire industry – repairers and insurers alike – can keep from owning the problem that there are still shops out there not doing these pre- or post-repair scans properly. These facilities are getting away with it because the issue is not alerted by the insurer or the customer. No one wins when lane departure, front-end collision avoidance, seat weight displacement for airbags or other crucial systems are not validated as working properly. In fact, people die from that.

Another ray of sunshine, I am excited to see the Mississippi Attorney General release the Guide (page XX) for consumers that gives them explanations on our very complicated repair industry. I’d really like to see our Virginia or Maryland counterparts embark on the same venture. It’s a great service to the public, and I think they have done a great job with it there.

If I had a Magic Wand

My hope for the future is that we can all navigate the advancements of vehicle technologies with not only more freedom, but also with more accountability. Repairers have to own the quality of their repair job (regardless of the insurer view), and insurers must step up and learn the proper methodologies that are necessary in today’s world. We don’t fix cars like we did 10 years ago, so saying it’s how we’ve done it all along is a frankly bogus answer to anything. People who fix the cars, and the people who reimburse, are both accountable to the car owner for a safe and proper repair. After all, it’s their family in there.

Thank you for taking the time to follow me […]

Always Looking “Fore”-ward

With our golf outing coming up only a week away at the time of this writing, it always gives me pause at how grateful WMABA is to our sponsors who not only support our association, show up for the fun, but also show up – sleeves rolled up – for a lot of other good works here and abroad. I see them doing great things everywhere I go!

Spending time in Pittsburgh at CIC / SCRS “Industry Week” recently, I run into plenty of our supporters and their national constituents, who are working to help along the progress of betterment for the entire industry. Many serve in volunteer roles on committees, boards, and the like to help with the creation and expansion of initiatives we all want to see happen. At CIC, there are between 300-400 people in the room and only 25-30% are repairers. The rest make up the ancillary “spokes” of related industry segments. Those other folks care about the success of repairers, because it means their success as well.

Walk with me here, and you’d see the faces of many who advocate for support of WMABA. The dollars they “sponsor” for us mean that we can work on industry issues, attend meetings on behalf of repairers, address legislative initiatives (both good and bad), and bring relevant education and meetings to our area. These vendors, that often get put aside for self-interest, are actually crucial to our well-being and successes. They are vital to the organization.

Another unnoticed and sometimes thankless job is our Board of Directors. They work on the association direction, help with individual member issues, volunteer at our events, and try to get our area more connected. They are also doing their own job at the same time! It’s a great thing that we have so many committed (not to the insane asylum!) people who are willing to give so much of themselves.

Please offer them your thanks by choosing them when it arises, and by telling them directly that they are making a difference. It helps them to know that the work they do does not go unnoticed. It certainly is noticed by us!

Here’s my metaphorical pat on the back to all those who “serve” WMABA!

Dr. Mike was on the Mic!

 

There are a couple things I wanted to make sure you had a chance to know and review from the Mike Anderson meeting (you were likely not in attendance for) and need to check out:

  • Everyone should have a succession plan. He suggested that we have a future WMABA Meeting going over what it means to either sell the business, become a phantom stockholder, or protect the business with a family trust and pre-nups that keeps ex-spouses or other vultures out. Keep in mind that without a pre-nuptial agreement, a divorcing spouse from an heir can come after their inheritance. Wouldn’t that be terrible?!
  • When he had a shop, he would send his rates certified mail with a cover letter to all insurance companies. Every quarter, they would send out the letter of rates, including the statistical data and government cost of living increases. Also the increases in IT, Equipment, and Training. Basically, it included anything justifying the reasons behind the rate change to promote education of insurance representatives as to why it was necessary to make the change.
  • You should check out the following websites that came up in the discussions:
    1. com – if you want a free trial to this site that checks for missing operations – AKA FREE MONEY! – then let me know and I’ll make sure you get it!
    2. org – showing new vehicles with aluminum. Enough said.
    3. org – There are multiple divisions in our area of the USO, and they are looking for career objectives for military personnel being released back into civilian life. Wouldn’t it be great to get these well-trained people into our industry?! (WMABA is working on this too, so check with us to see progress)
    4. com – a cool site dedicated to the emergency extrication information on vehicle structures for emergency personnel, such as firefighters, police and EMTs. It’s also interesting to see the vehicle diagrams that they have on the site. If you work with any local first responders, send them here!
    5. com – Not to be outdone by Aluminum and Boron, the Steel industry also has a website of information about steel usage in vehicles and the communications they have with automakers. Keeping up on what usage of their high-tensile steel or super-high strength steels is just as important as aluminum and other metals.

 

If Mike comes back, you need to make it. Every shop there emailed me, thanking us, for having him speak. You may have known Mike from being a body shop owner/manager, like you, but you have to put that aside and come see him as an industry inspirer, motivator, and friend. Where he is now is a place of comradery, leadership, and educator. He’s incredibly entertaining, but it is all very useful to you in your day-to-day operations.

 

If the humdrum of this industry has you in the dumps, then you need to pull yourself out of it to be at our meetings. We always have one thing going for us: no one will judge you, oppress you, or beat you up. The people at our meetings are all there for one reason: get better.

 

Thanks for supporting us by reading, and get that Membership Application in. You owe it to yourself to make sure this industry is around for you in the future!

Press Release: WMABA Opposes West Virginia Parts Bill, Neighboring States’ Efforts Will Be Affected

http://conta.cc/2mxrWLz

Richmond, Virginia – March 15, 2017 –  In reaction to the recent legislation, Senate Bill 544, proposed in West Virginia and reducing the consumer protections related to collision repair parts, the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) strongly urges representatives to vote “NO”.

After years of efforts to push forward similar protections in both Maryland and Virginia, the WMABA has utilized the neighboring state of West Virginia as an upstanding example of how a state can protect consumers when it comes to the collision repair parts used during the collision repair process. Having the majority, if not all, of the warranty period covered, those consumers with newer vehicles do not have to argue with insurers about what is best for their car and can get the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts without any out of pocket expense. This is something not afforded their neighbors, who applaud this type

Screenshot from Maynards Auto World, Facebook showing company parts sales.

of protection and disclosure.

Finding outright fault in the argument that this proposed legislation reduces the deductible charge in any way, the association also urges legislators to check the facts and the other consequences of this bill. The deductible is set by the policy, and would not be changed.
Customers will not always know what kind of parts they are getting, unless they ask. The “fine print” parts disclosure required at the end of each repair estimate or repair order that explains the use of aftermarket parts is also a necessary consumer protection, so that they know what parts are being used in their repair. There is nothing else that would mandate a repairer or insurer educate the customer on the parts types written into the charges. Knowing what kinds of parts are used is a right-to-know that should not be altered.
It appears that the Senator Maynard, who proposed the bill, also would take personal interest in this cause, as his own business deals in aftermarket parts for cars (see picture from Maynard’s Auto World, Facebook). Without doubt, WMABA knows that insurers, aftermarket parts companies, and others will take benefits to this bill through the course of their business. Insurers believe that this will save on claims amounts, but also push or shift the cost onto the policyholder or claimant by making them pay out of pocket to get what the law already provides. Aftermarket parts suppliers benefit through the additional usage of their parts, which are not covered by the vehicle’s existing warranty, something that consumers often find subpar to their “pre-accident condition” where the warranty is fully intact. They are not made whole to the point of value or condition they were when the accident occurred.
WMABA again urges all West Virginia legislators to carefully review the consequences of these language changes, and to vote against changing a consumer protection that needs to stay.
For more information please call 804-789-9649 or email jordanhendler@wmaba.com

And the Survey Says…

The broken record just keeps playing along… As you can see by the Part 2 of the sections you responded to about marketplace and daily business practices, it’s more of the same. While that can make you feel down, understand that it’s helpful to know you are definitely and sincerely NOT ALONE!

The most derogatory and hurtful of all statements made to a repairer is “You’re the only one.” The only one who charges X for anything, performs it that way, or needs to adhere to a particular OEM requirement or recommendation. I love statistically valid statements, and being the only one is an impossibility.

Not being the only one isn’t usually any help if you don’t know two things: 1, who are the other ones; 2, how do you overcome that argument. At the time of this writing we are a couple days away from a Mike Anderson meeting in Maryland. You’ll undoubtedly get the earful next issue on that, but I have no question in my mind that he’d say you overcome these things with facts. Present all the facts. Facts are the best way of negotiation there is.

But what if facts aren’t enough? I’m sure he’d say you’ll have to involve the customer. If you want to make the difference in price, then it will either be paid by the customer or the insurer will need to delineate the argument to them. It will involve the only one argument, but facts to the customer will come down to whether or not they agree with your case or theirs. Sometimes it will come down to an argument between them.

What if you don’t want to cause the riff? Other repairers are using a hold-harmless agreement. You want to use Aftermarket parts against the OE recommendation, or not have the pre- or post-repair scan performed? Then sign on the dotted line. (The customer, that is.) If you put the option to the customer to pay the difference and they just can’t come up with it and the insurer won’t budge, then why should the repairer be on the hook of liability? This is another option.

Many repairers wilt at the thought of telling the customer bad news. It just feels bad. But if you were a doctor, where you first do no harm, then even tough news is still required to be shared. A doctor wouldn’t come out of surgery and say everything went great if you died on the table 4 times and will need further medical attention! You have a form of Hippocratic oath when you assure the customer you are going to fix their car right.

Facts are facts, and that should be the basis of conversations with both customers and insurers. You don’t have to give them every gory detail, but is something went wrong they really have a right to know. It is their car, not ours. In the age of what is too much information, maybe we should get on board. The more people know of repair issues we face when trying to do the right thing, the more likely attention from positive sources can happen!

WMABA Testifies in Maryland Parts Bill Hearing

Yesterday WMABA testified on behalf of HB 1258.The bill is written to prohibit the use of aftermarket parts for the first two years of a vehicle’s life, as well as define certified aftermarket parts was heard in the House Economic Matters Committee.

Executive Director Jordan Hendler and President Mark Schaech were present and  testified. You can see the full coverage at the link below as well as the article from Repairer Driven news.

LKQ blasts Md. bill, says shops owe existence to company’s parts preventing total losses
Implying that shops effectively owe their existence to LKQ, a lobbyist for the aftermarket giant Thursday lashed out at a Maryland bill curtailing the use of uncertified generic collision parts.
LKQ government affairs representative Ray Colas said that without his company providing cheaper versions of OEM parts, damaged cars would be totaled and auto body shops would begin to dry up. (The hearing can be viewed here, with the parts bill debate starting at about the 2:15:00 mark. Colas speaks at about 2:48:26.)
“They’re in business today because we enable them to be able to repair their vehicle,” Colas said. “… In terms of total loss calculation, we keep vehicles on the road. We allow them to repair vehicles, because we keep it below that threshold.”
House Bill 1258 sponsor and former body shop owner Richard Impallaria, R-Baltimore and Hartford counties, challenged Colas on that statement.
“That was some very, very strong language: that body shops get to exist because you are there,” Impallaria said.
By |March 13th, 2016|News|1 Comment|

Ring, Ring, I’m talking to YOU!

I’ve heard it all, people. The entire span from “Ya!” to “BODYSHOP!” to “Thank you for calling ABC Collision Repair, this is Susan, how may I help you today?”; it’s all over the board. Really, I think it is a measure of personal respect, the manner in which you answer your business telephone.

In this issue, we’ve talked about the first impressions made by the physical appearance of the outside and inside of your business, and your employees, but the telephone is no less important. Giving the due diligence to have a procedure for anyone answering will pay off indefinitely.

Your first impression on the end of the ringing line is a concern. It is a primary source of revenue. It’s a first line to your customer, both existing and potential. Talking to your staff – including yourself – about what takes place when you pick it up can change the dynamic of your customer base. The expectation of folks today is that any retail business should be professional, and act professionally.

What are the most important factors of answering the phone properly?

  • Identifying the business name
  • Stating the person’s name answering
  • Smiling face and cheerful tone of voice

To put it all together, put a smile on your face and say my latter example above: “Thank you for calling ABC Collision Repair, this is Susan, how may I help you today?” personalized to you of course.

Why the smile and cheerful tone? You can’t ask someone to come to work happy, but you can have an expectation that their private woes will not affect their manner in interacting with your customers. Hence, the smile, because it’s difficult to sound down while doing it. You can improve a lot by empowering those in this position with the understanding of how crucial they are to the success of the entire business.

No customer expects a receptionist to be able to answer all of their questions, but they do want a friendly voice that can assist them in a time of need. If there is not a dedicated answerer, then anyone who would ever pick up a phone should be on the same page as to how the phone will be answered. Then the team can maximize any incoming lead into new repair jobs.

Taking a few minutes to give this part of your business a mini-makeover could be more important than the sign out front.

Published in the June issue of Hammer & Dolly Magazine

By |June 1st, 2015|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on Ring, Ring, I’m talking to YOU!|

CNN Reports – Are cheap repairs part of an insurance scheme?

WMABA Reviews CNN’s Collision Repair Story by Anderson Cooper

Jordan Hendler, Executive Director

VIDEO: Are cheap repairs part of an insurance scheme? – including Article.

On February 11, CNN’s Anderson Cooper aired a special expose of the collision industry during his nightly broadcast of Anderson Cooper 360, “Are Cheap Repairs Part of an Insurance Scheme?” If you have not already seen it, the video coverage can be viewed at http://cnn.it/1EZTGPa. It was a 10 minute piece that will go down in infamy for our industry, covering examples of how consumers have been harmed as a result of insurance company interjection into parts and repair service provider selection.

Covering a broad range of issues in a short amount of time, the video left one sour taste for me: the notion that all preferred shops are providing poor repair quality. We know this is simply not true. The differentiation of repairers comes at the helm of education, tooling, and dedication to providing safe, quality repairs on continuously advancing vehicle platforms with ever-increasing OEM requirements. Not whether they participate in a direct repair agreement.  There are plenty of great repairers in DRP agreements, and conversely poor examples of independents. That issue aside, WMABA is pleased that CNN has given our industry this much needed exposure.

The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) highlighted the issue of differentiation in their review of the newscast, saying, “In a well-functioning market, those with lesser skill, lesser capability and lesser quality would be incentivized to improve because those who perform better would receive appropriately higher degrees of compensation based on skill and competition. Consumers would seemingly seek out those with the best skill set available to them, further ensuring their vehicles are safely repaired, and providing those leading repairers with greater market share. Unfortunately, insurers often refuse to recognize these gradations in the marketplace; just as they have proven not to distinguish similar gradations between part qualities.” 

Where we hope progress can be made is the incentivizing of having the proper education, tools, and equipment with a fair compensation. This emphasis, rather than the current lowest price, highest use of alternative parts, or quickest turnaround would improve the overall quality of the repair process for all parties involved, and mostly the consumer. All consumers want their car back fast, and for no additional out of pocket, but with rare exception would knowingly trade that for their safety or diminished value of their vehicle.

Once watched, how does that help us, and how can it be used for the common good?

It can be a stepping stone for other news media to give coverage to our industry. As an association, resources like this are hard to come by from an outside perspective. Especially, when they’re devoted to the position of the consumer and still convey a meaningful story. Having momentum is important for securing meetings, memberships, news sources and more, so this serves as a tremendous help in that regard. In the end of it, we utilize this material to open a door easier than it may have before.

If you are a shop who addresses issues showcased in the footage on a daily basis, then you may want to consider putting it in a lobby video for your customers. You’d likely want to loop it with other helpful information, rather than on its own, so that the redundancy doesn’t become an irritation.

This is why you need to be a member of WMABA

I know we say it a lot, but it’s vital for your support of the association to keep up on these types of works. This may have been produced from the […]

By |February 23rd, 2015|News|Comments Off on CNN Reports – Are cheap repairs part of an insurance scheme?|