The general theme of the meeting was “Fast and Right: A Step Into the Future. The Perfect Storm of Change for Insurers and Repairers,” and focused on where the industry will be by 2014.
The mission statement for the conference summed up the purpose of the symposium: “The consumer never gets what they paid a premium for until the technician performs the repair and does it right. The insurer never gets what they are paying for until the technician does it right. The shop doesn’t earn a single penny of return on investment until the technician performs the repair and does it right. Everything else is pure cost, loss and risk, for all three. How do we all get there from here, by 2014 or sooner?”
Featured speakers and their topics of discussion at the symposium included Dale Delmege, principal, Chelsea Group, Inc. and symposium facilitator (“The Coming Perfect Storm”); Bruce Bares, president, Hi-Tech Collision and Glass Centers (Let’s Cut Excess Cost Together); Greg Horn, vice-president, Mitchell International (U.S. Industry Report); Mike Kukavica, technical director, Porsche Car America, Inc. (Repairability Challenges to New OEM Materials and Designs); Bill Lawrence, principal, LC Automotive (The Perfect Shop for 2014); Matthew Ohrnstein, principal, Symphony Advisors; Bill Daly, assistant vice-president-auto, Allstate Insurance Company, Collision Repair Technology (Repair Process and Quality); Mark Olson, VeriFacts Automotive (Imaging, Information, Documentation and Audit); Jimmy Spears, assistant vice-president, USAA (The New OEM Market Dynamics); Jeff Peevy and Jason Bartanen, I-CAR (Training To Performance); and John Hubert, State Farm Mutual Insurance Company (Working Together for the Right Repair). The speakers were followed by a roundtable discussion and audience questions.
Exhibiting companies featuring goods and services at the symposium included AutoWatch, Automotive Equipment Solutions, CSI Complete, CynCast, EQUIP Automotive Systems, Inc., Eurocar-Bench-Systems (EBS), Harout’s BMW, I-CAR, IT Outsource, Mitchell International, Optima Worldwide Limited, Pacific Collision Equipment (CAR-O-LINER), PMCLogic and Summit Software Solutions.
Insurers included 21st Century Insurance, Allstate, Auto Club of Southern California, CSAA, Esurance, Farmers Insurance Group, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Private Client Group, Safeco Insurance Company of America, State Farm, Sterling Casualty, and USAA.
Dale Delmege assisted in the planning and implementation of the symposium. He is the owner and founder of the Chelsea Group, a company that assists auto claims businesses in strategy, organization, preparation for sale or succession and operations.
“Everyone at the meeting started to realize while we were there that we were doing something that had never really happened before at this level,” Delmege said. “I’ve been to hundreds of collision repair shops over the years, and I know this industry from top-to-bottom, from both the shop side and the insurance side, and I have never felt that kind of electricity in a room before.”
Attendees for the symposium were hand-picked by VeriFacts, based on their size, level of experience in the industry and willingness to share information from their unique perspectives, Delmege explained.
Farzam Afshar, president of VeriFacts, assembled the group. “We wanted to create a context where we could communicate openly and discuss the future of this industry,” he said. “If we want to predict the future, we should play a part in shaping it. Sometimes in this business, companies on both sides lose sight of the big picture. We wanted to bring everyone back together in one room to analyze where we’ll be in five years, so that we can start preparing now.
“Our goal was to raise the consciousness of the industry by providing a forum for a constructive discussion,” Afshar said. “If we don’t start looking at these rapidly developing technologies and begin to establish guidelines for fixing these new, highly sophisticated vehicles now, we’re really going to feel the consequences down the road. Our only choice is to fix these cars based on an accepted methodology using procedures that we can all agree on.”
VeriFacts Automotive was originally founded by Farzam Afshar and Mark Olson in 2002 to address the implementation of technical information within the collision repair industry. Committed to ensuring that collision repairers have the correct information and skills necessary to repair today’s diverse and complex vehicles, VeriFacts is recognized as one of the industry’s only on-site, hands-on coaching and quality assessment solutions available to collision repair and claims professionals.
VeriFacts repair methodologies and technical competency position it to provide a wide array of services to the collision repair, insurance and manufacturing communities.
Now that the symposium is over, what are insurers and shops going to do to continue this dialog and implement what they learned at the meeting? Afshar is optimistic.
“We can all agree on what we want,” he said. “It’s pretty simple. At the end of the day, we want to get the cars fixed quickly; to produce a quality product that everyone can be happy with-repairing rather than replacing when possible-and we want to make money. Our goals are the same, and anything we can do to achieve them is worthwhile and needed. We’re confident that this symposium was a positive step in the right direction.”