Another New Year – What’s Your Resolution?

The New Year always gives heed to trying to invoke change; resolving to change something in our lives for the better. What is it about your business that you want to see change take place in 2015? How could WMABA be the vehicle to make that happen?

By answering those two simple questions, we could create a stronger partnership to create a better industry for everyone. Mostly, if you’re having an issue, there are many other repairers out there with the same problem looking for a solution. I’m feeling quite cliché, but how do you actually accomplish a New Year’s resolution?

I’ve found there are steps. Not particular ones, but very helpful nonetheless.

1) Write it down.
Writing down your resolution makes it real. If you only think about it, it hasn’t had ability to come to fruition. It needs to own real space. So, electronically or literally, write it into your task list.

2) Give it a goal.
What is a realistic timeframe that you want to see this resolution come about? Is it this year, the next 3 months, or 2 years down the road? Whatever the end game is in your mind’s eye, give it a number and write it down too.

3) Give it steps.
That old adage that you cannot eat an elephant all in one bite can ring true for your resolution. Identify the steps you can take, one at a time, to get to the result. Write those down in order, then give them completion dates and put them into your calendar with reminders.

4) Get help.
Identify those people you need support from that can get you to the goal. Collaborate with them and create a team system that can hold the goal accountable. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll get to it, but when someone else is involved, it’s harder to let them down in the process. It’s your goal, so you need to make it happen.

5) Evaluate often.
Along the way, you may find that the resolution will change in scope or morph into something completely different. When in a process of a goal, the goal may become a different target. Revising the plan to get the outcome you desire is great. It means that you have adopted the process and are utilizing it to get what you want.

6) Celebrate the steps.
When you work on a goal, you need to allow the celebration of each part. If this is a big goal, with many parts, the team may get bogged down in not reaching it because it seems so far off. If you break the resolution into sections, with timelines, then when you make a mark you can make it a big deal. Then everyone involved feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves and more likely to help you push to the finish line.

If WMABA can help you along the way, please feel free to reach out. We love to be a part of your success story!

Happy resolutioning.

By |December 31st, 2014|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on Another New Year – What’s Your Resolution?|

WMABA – Audi Event Documents

Information from the December 10th meeting at Audi, including the presentation and supporting documentation.

Download: Audi Presentation to WMABA

To Contact Audi for more information, please contact:

Mark T. Allen, Specialist, Collision Programs & Workshop Equipment

Audi of America, Inc.

Tel.   +1 703 364 7136

mailto:mark.allen@audi.com

http://www.audiusa.com

 

By |December 19th, 2014|News|Comments Off on WMABA – Audi Event Documents|

We’re Doing You the Favor

Labor Rate of Return on Investment – This article will drip with sarcasm. My catchy “Wheel of Fortune”-like slogan is a play on our Labor involved, and the return we all get for the Investment. At the time of this writing, our office is calling individual shops throughout the region to obtain their current posted/retail labor rate information, as well as additional questions relating to marketplace conduct by them and insurance representatives. It’s a truly harrowing task, calling you guys. We’re doing you a favor by putting this information together, so that you have some barometer of what our industry is REALLY doing. Data that is usable by all of us.

Our Industry Needs Phone Skills

For some helpful feedback, I’d like to give you some insight into what it’s like to talk to, well, you. Here’s some insight into the experience, and what you could learn from us.

You may have been the one getting the phone call, but also likely it was a receptionist or front desk person, or much worse, the voicemail machine. Any which way it’s sliced, the majority of you do NOT participate. That can be for several reasons. The receptionist is like a highly skeptical, expertly trained junkyard dog – which we must maneuver to gain “entry” to the manager or person holding the information at ransom. If we get past the dog that’s sure we’re selling something, we are met with another level of skepticism from the gatekeeper. That’s you.

I know that many of you are afraid of sharing that your “partners” will somehow find out – and that is a myth. We do not disclose ANY personal information, but we know why it makes you cringe anyway.

Here’s the real deal:

Ring, Ring, Ring…

When answered, we get everything from “Hmph?” – something resembling Hello, but not really, to “Thank you for calling ‘Joe’s Collision’ how may I help you?”

Response: “Hi, this is Jordan Hendler, with the Washington Metro Auto Body Association and Hammer & Dolly Magazine. We’re calling for our 3rd annual labor rate survey. It takes about 3 minutes over the phone or we can email you a link to do the survey online.”

Here is an array of what follows:

“Uh…… I can’t do that right now.” click.

“I’m busy right now, call me back later.” Click.

“My hands are full.” How did you pick up the phone?

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, can you call tomorrow?”

“The guy you want isn’t here, and we don’t know when he’ll be here.”

So, my deduction is simple. If someone that is a CUSTOMER were to call and ask this very same question, what would you prey-tell give them as an answer? Think about it.

Your homework:

Make sure your entire staff are aware of your retail rates (not an agreement rate) and that whenever a potential customer calls, they won’t get the run-around that we experience for the survey. Have a documented procedure to capture that customer rather than scare them away.

The importance of giving input

Our industry is the most unforgiving cutthroat business to be in. People who go the extra distance to involve themselves with WMABA all seem ingrained with the same similar fundamental belief in trying to affect some kind of change.

I grew up hearing the phrase, “you cannot complain about something without offering a solution.” Though mostly, I didn’t head that advice until I was older, and it always seemed as the world was unfair. It took me time to figure out that the world is what you make it, and if you want to see change then you need to have the initiative to do it yourself.

We cannot know where we are going unless we know first where we are. The WMABA Labor Rate survey is something in which all people in our industry can give input to help with the prospect of change. Not by changing prices by virtue of their input, but by giving a face to the reality that our industry is in.

All things considered, we are in a community that spans many miles but is in actuality very small. You can go anywhere, in any modern country, and find a repairer who deals with the exact same circumstances as you. You are not alone. In that premise, you cannot possibly be the only one that questions what is being asked of them, told to them, or expected as “usual and customary.”

Operating an association comes with the realization that no one is ever the only one. If you were to monitor my phone or email, you would quickly see the fact of that statement. Sometimes it is as if there are ripples where I’ll have 3 or 4 repairers call me about the very same thing within a two-day window.

Some issues I get relate to government oversight, finding good technicians, how to purchase the right equipment or get the right education need met, and even getting an insurance question answered from the “higher up’s”. There are so many resources shared by our membership, that it – sorry to sound so cliché – never hurts to ask about your own issue. What would you lose by calling in and asking the question that nags you? What if someone else that lay in bed staring at the ceiling each night had cracked the code and we already have the answer to sound sleep for you? Wouldn’t it serve your interest to at least find out? Last question: what are you waiting for?

Participation of any kind in the efforts pushed by WMABA is a way of keeping your voice, even anonymously, included in those who want to see positive change in our industry. That could be by any means in your imagination.

We often put the call out that if you believe passionately about just one thing, whatever its significance, and see it through to resolution, you’ve effectively moved a mountain. Find out if there is already someone working on a door lock that just needs your key to get to the other side. Some things really are just a basic connection for simple conclusion.

By |September 25th, 2014|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on The importance of giving input|

Notes from the WIN Conference

I was recently honored and humbled to receive the Most Influential Women’s Award from the Women’s Industry Network in San Diego, California. For the first time, I attended the WIN annual conference where the award ceremony was held. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not much on drawing any attention to being a woman in a male-dominated field, and industry.

I’ve never been a fan of differentiation, and instead have been an advocate for recognition of a job well-done. Growing up with the desires to work on cars, then to become a welder, and then to join the collision industry, I always felt that my non-traditional callings weren’t normal, but not something that was a hindrance. All that said, I still think it is important for women in our industry to have a network of other women as mentors, colleagues and confidants.

Attending this event, I was open to understanding the vision they have of an organization “dedicated to encouraging, developing and cultivating opportunities to attract women to collision repair while recognizing excellence, promoting leadership, and fostering a network among the women who are shaping the industry.” I saw that many of the attendees were doing just what I did when I first started to attend national meetings: to meet new people and make connections that could widen my network in the industry.

On top of making those connections, they offered motivational seminars and break-out educational meetings that anyone would have drawn from. The speakers were vibrant and moving in their material and gave many takeaways. I think men would have gotten the same from attendance as I did.

The goal of this conference was to “power up” women in our industry. Anything that boosts personal confidence, and understanding of work-place dynamic, is a positive. I realized that many of the women in attendance hadn’t had ever received motivational support, or the education that had received growing up in the industry. They didn’t have the same connections that I had and this was a great way for them to grow as a person.

If all the employers in our industry would take the time to empower their employees in this same way, then I could see us having a more positive work environment and stronger, more self-starting people.

I realized at the table awaiting the award ceremony that from the inception of the Most Influential Women’s award in 1999, I had a relationship with a woman honored each year since. Each of those women had been a friend, or a mentor, or at minimum a colleague of mine, and there is no way I could have understood or made my way through these past 16 years without them. I have a lot of respect for them, and a lot to be thankful for in knowing that.

I’m also truly thankful for my parents, who are also in the industry. My dad, Jeff Hendler (administrator and past Chairman for the Collision Industry Conference), who showed up at the conference to bear witness to my award. He’s been the most inspirational figure in my life, in step with my mom, Linda Atkins, who is the administrator for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists. They taught me that perseverance can overcome any obstacle and that is the mantra for everything that I do.

Man or woman, we are in one of the greatest industries in America. I couldn’t be more blessed to work in it, with the best people out there. Other associations I’ve worked with have shown me that you are the biggest collection of the hardest working, most generous and supportive folks – bar none.

You truly are […]

By |May 13th, 2014|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on Notes from the WIN Conference|

Mike Anderson Meeting – May Day, May Day! Can you hear me?!

May 1 is also known as May Day, and “May Day!” was a dominant theme for attendees of the recent Mike Anderson seminar put on through WMABA at the LKQ Training Center in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. With his usual boisterous and take me as I come or leave me personality, Mike gave attendees more than they bargained for. He says what needs to be heard without judgment, but instead with warning. Safety is his number one priority, and he wants every pair of ears to hear how vehicle technology is changing everything we know about collision repair processes.

Opening with The Rules, he first warns attendees to not mistake his passion for arrogance. Then it’s not too long after they figure out why; he asks for an audience “Amen!” for agreement similar to a high-strung preacher. His presentation is nothing short of refreshingly eye-opening.

“My goal was for everybody to understand that it’s important for us to still focus on cycle time – and I understand why people focus on severity – but safety needs to be more important than all of that. Whether you’re a DRP or non-DRP, when that customer chooses you to fix the [vehicle], they’re saying, ”I’m choosing you to fix my car because I trust you to look out for my best interest and do things the way they’re supposed to be done.’ Sometimes, shops take that too lightly; they don’t take it as seriously as they should.”

Covering everything between the definitions of required or recommended for reimbursement, to estimating for weld burn damage, there was something for everyone. Mike’s approach is to give tools and methods for learning, rather than giving quick fixes that fizzle or change over time.  Instead, he focuses on the long-term solution of student-initiated learning and adaptation.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of what it takes to fix a car properly. I don’t mean that disrespectfully; it’s just that the industry is changing so fast that it takes a lot to keep up on things today. You really have to spend time on training. There are times when I do classes where you have a lot of naysayers [who say], ‘This will never work.’ But I didn’t sense any of that negativity; people seemed to be like, ‘Yeah, I got it. I understand it and I can do it.’”

If you didn’t make the meeting, there are several FREE websites or products Mike wants you to know about:

www.DEGweb.org – FREE! The Database Enhancement Gateway is the repairers’ tool for asking estimating database questions about missing part numbers, missing or inaccurate labor times, or p-page questions. This underutilized tool is a big reference for all things estimating.

www.collisionadvice.com – FREE! Mike’s website has all the forms, links and tools that he covers in all of his seminars, free to download. So, what are you waiting for?!

www.estimatescrubber.com – FREE! Missing labor operations? How would you know? This website will go over your entire estimate and point out operations that you have not included. Another free tool in getting a more accurate estimate.

www.partsvoice.com – FREE! This website is great for looking up OEM schematics for parts ordering. Missing brackets, hardware, additional parts are common, and this is a way to get your estimate more accurate up front.

www.estify.com

Other prominent “products” Anderson discusses are the ASTech Tool that acts as an online factory scan tool for repairers to check the vehicle prior to repair, and just before delivery. Something he deems an absolute necessity with today’s vehicle technologies […]

By |May 1st, 2014|News|Comments Off on Mike Anderson Meeting – May Day, May Day! Can you hear me?!|

“WE NEED YOU” – me, (and Uncle Sam)

Dispelling the Top 5 rumors or untruths you might have heard

The recent press is full of what WMABA does for you, so now is the time for us to ask for your support by becoming a member. Association membership is something the professionals in our industry think of as optional, but with your help our accomplishments could become mind-blowing and industry-altering.

Staring down the advancements in vehicle technology, increased government and rising insurer issues, it’s hard to think of membership in WMABA as anything but mandatory. Everyone from the independent repairer to the dealership body shop needs a vocal representative now more than ever.

So, let me explain away the “excuses” we’ve heard and you can join today!

1)      WMABA Hates DRPs. So, if you have any they hate You.

The association represents ALL repairers. That means that the majority of our memberships have a DRP relationship with at least one insurer. Our goal is to find ways to improve relationships with insurers whenever possible. If there isn’t a “happy medium” for an issue that arises, then we will try to get it resolved through our national contacts. If not there, then we use the legislative or governmental alternative as a last resort.

2)      It’s so expensive, I can’t afford it.

Membership is $1.92 per day. When you calculate it out, that’s $700 per year, but when you see it as a daily number we know that you can look at that and understand it’s very affordable to have someone working for you on a more global scale each and every day. What WMABA does helps your shop, but also helps your shop community.

3)      The Insurance Companies have a list of the members and beat them up constantly.

Our membership rosters are not given out publicly or even to other members. The WMABA Board feels strongly that no one repairer or groups of repairers should be seen as the “vocal minority”. This gives our members the option of anonymity to be involved with the association while not feeling as though there is a potential for a target on their back. If there are particular avenues within the association that someone wants to publicly speak on, such as repair practices or more pointedly insurer mandates, then they certainly have the ability to do so.

4)      Membership is for those “big” shops.

WMABA Members come in all shapes and sizes. We have members ranging from a staff of 4-5 people, or as large as 50+. We represent the very small independent in a rural community the same way we do for a large dealership group body shop. All are important to us, and important for sustaining a variety of perspective in our scope of activities.

5)      I’d have to be involved, or go to meetings.

Membership in WMABA does not come with requirements for attendance to anything. Supporting the association with dues is the most important gesture a shop can make. Those funds go towards all of the activities that we’re involved in. Whether or not you want to attend the membership meetings, legislative functions, a golf outing or anything else that WMABA holds is 100% your prerogative. Of course, we would love to have more participation to promote connectivity and consensus-building in the repairer community. However, if you’d rather be fishing, then so be it!

 

See, you feel better about joining now, don’t you? Visit the website to download a membership application, or feel free to contact me at the office to find out more.

By |April 18th, 2014|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on “WE NEED YOU” – me, (and Uncle Sam)|

WMABA Urges Support of Maryland Parts Bill

The Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) is proud to announce their support of Maryland’s 2014 Senate Bill 487 (House Bill 574). Download: Bill Text

This important consumer-protection bill sponsored by Senator Astle (D, 30) and Delegate Olszewski (D, 6) as well as several others in both houses, will prohibit insurer mandated parts procurement processes or vendors and the usage of aftermarket parts for the first three years of the vehicle. (Check out our Maryland Legislative page)

WMABA believes that this important consumer protection bill that was originally proposed in 2013 by Delegate Fisher (R, 27B), a former repairer himself, will be met with favor by other Maryland legislators. Consumers purchase or lease a new vehicle with an existing manufacturer’s warranty or lease agreement that specify particular parts for the vehicle in the event of necessary repairs. They inherently expect that the repair process will not conflict with those interests, and that their insurance policy would cover this expectation as well.

“These are issues any consumer can identify with,” says Jordan Hendler, Executive Director for WMABA. “And at the end of the day, that’s what each of these legislators are. It’s about the belief that cost containment cannot come from consumer harm. Our industry recognizes that there is a place for aftermarket parts, but not when their use would be direct conflict with existing warranty, lease or lienholder agreements. We know of vehicles with as little as 15 miles on them have been written for aftermarket parts. It’s just not fair to our customers to pay the difference, and that’s what we’re seeing happen.”

Consumers and collision centers should have the innate right to choose their vendors for parts or materials necessary to repair the vehicle, especially when price is not a factor. Insurer mandates not only intrude into the customer-repairer-vendor relationships, but also do not add value to their customer experience and decrease productivity. If the consumer’s vehicle repair process is held up due to parts choice limitations or unreasonable cost-controlling measures by the insurer, they are likely then out-of-pocket for additional rental car costs.

Insurers should be held accountable to the problems caused by their mandates, and WMABA feels that this important legislation is a step in the right direction to protect the collision repair industries’ customer during the process of repair.

For more information please call 804-789-9649 or email jordanhendler@wmaba.com

By |January 30th, 2014|News, Press Releases|Comments Off on WMABA Urges Support of Maryland Parts Bill|

The Jig is Up; One Shop Says “NO” to the State Farm Agreement

Hammer & Dolly – December 2013

One Shop Says “NO” to the State Farm Agreement

November 11, 2013 was a big day for the Taylor family in Taylor’s Auto Body Shop in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was the day they made the decision to say “No” to signing the new State Farm® Select Service® agreement for their business based on the impending implementation of the PartsTrader system and potentially other vendor requirements.

The Founders of Taylor’s Auto Body Shop, Doug and May Taylor, were present at the Collision Industry Conference meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada during the time of their negotiations with the insurer and had heard all of discussions that took place there in relation to insurer mandates. They did have legal counsel perform a review of the agreement and the recommendation was to not participate under the existing guidelines..

May found the situation they were in particularly upsetting, saying, “We felt bullied. It did not make any difference that we have such a good relationship with the agents and did a large volume of work for them.  In the past twelve months, there has only been one customer complaint and that was because of some old damage. It just showed to me that State Farm does not care about the customer service or quality of repair.”

She continued with, “When we returned from CIC and SEMA in Las Vegas, we found that the insurer was pushing us to sign or not and to make the decision that day, either way. It was then that we realized that we needed to separate ourselves and change our business model accordingly. We have always been a company who markets directly to our existing and potential customers, but we will be focusing more attention to gaining and retaining our clientele in the future. I believe that this is an opportunity to educate the consumer about the repair process and why they should choose us.”

­­

Thoughts of the Executive Director

We can now all stop wondering when the new State Farm agreement will arrive that includes the parts and materials procurement system and now start wondering what the aftermath will be. For those of you who are a part of the Select Service program, you are now more than likely operating under the new agreement, unless you’ve made the decision to not sign. Those of you who are not signing, it’s time to understand what the term “reasonable and/or usual and customary” means.

What kills me is that 99% of the shops who sign do not have the document reviewed by legal counsel. Probably because after doing so would result in a “Seriously?! Who came up with this stuff?” from the other end. And because most of you know that’s bound to happen, then you just figure, “well, they’re just going to tell me I’m better off without it, but I don’t think I could afford to do that so I’ll just go along with it because if I don’t someone else will anyway.” I know this internal dialogue sounds at least vaguely familiar. That’s how the cyclical system has lulled the shops into accepting things that no other industry aside from healthcare would.

So I’m going to pretend you did send it to a lawyer. Any [good] lawyer will tell you a few things to consider as general principle. The below is not legal advice, but interpretation of things I’ve been told**:

1)      It’s not a contract. Therefore it’s not admissible under any contract law and hasn’t been tried in court as to validity anywhere in the US.

2)      No one would enforce it because either party can quit at any time for any […]

By |December 1st, 2013|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on The Jig is Up; One Shop Says “NO” to the State Farm Agreement|

Getting Out There and Giving Thanks

I am thankful that I get to work with so many Rock Stars. Or maybe they could closer be described as Superheroes. These are absolutely remarkable people who stand up and stand out; heads and shoulders above the rest.

In the past 60 days I’ve been immersed in the work we’ve done with education and legislation for our membership and community. Getting to spend more time with Aaron Schulenburg, Mike Anderson, Toby Chess, Ray Gunder, Barrett Smith, Brent Geohagan and every single first responder who came to the WMABA-organized member-hosted Emergency Vehicle Extrication classes made it clear to me that there are extraordinary people doing seemingly ordinary things each and every day.

Before I talk about those amazing individuals, I want to say a “thank you” to our own amazing men and women to serve on the WMABA Board of Directors (page 43). They tirelessly work together with me and our staff, which is away from their business or family, to help make our area collision industry better. They are truly selfless, and you should take the time to thank them for looking out for you!

SCRS’ Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg is supported by a solid Board of Directors made of our country’s finest shop owners and managers, and standing on those stilts of steel he continues to impress with his charismatic and direct way of affecting positive change for our industry. This includes the always improving Repairer Driven Education hosted by SCRS at the SEMA Show each year. Truly a one-stop shop for getting the best educational and business building experience that the automotive industry has to offer. WMABA is so proud of our affiliation with SCRS. If you want to make next year a hit then buy your ticket to Vegas for next year’s show!

Ray Gunder, Barrett Smith and Brent Geohagan are what I lovingly refer to as David, his slingshot and the rock, in that order (from the David vs Goliath story of the Old Testament). Ray has been truly blessed to have such success through perseverance coupled with the team of wonderful and skilled folks around him. They are a point of light in a usually grim world. They give others uplifting and helpful advice at the expense of their own businesses, which is truly unselfish. Their story shows that they are the better men up against giants.

Mike Anderson and Toby Chess are two of the best instructors our industry has, in my humble opinion. After having Mike teach his estimating seminar in late August (see in October issue of H&D), having Toby come out the following month is just overwhelming. These two men care so much about you knowing how to fix cars properly and with the tools to get paid for it, that they offered their time to us at no charge. I hope the next time we have education of this caliber in our area that you take advantage, because opportunities like these are not always available a second time around.

As WMABA explores avenues for community outreach, we had three member shops recently do a free vehicle extrication class for area first responders, primarily fire rescue workers. (See page 14) These emergency personnel are dedicated, hardworking people who come ready to learn and engage and are so appreciative of our host shops who afforded them this opportunity to not only learn about new vehicle technologies but apply it with their tools on those same newer vehicles. They truly are the first line of defense for our customers in an accident, and deserve to be recognized for the commitment they show in the advancement of their […]

By |November 30th, 2013|Executive Director, News|Comments Off on Getting Out There and Giving Thanks|