Thursday, 24 February 2011 17:38

New CIC Committee to Focus on Shop Data’s Capture, Use, Sale, and Reports

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Arizona shop owner Mike Quinn opened his first Collision Industry Conference (CIC) as chairman of the quarterly gathering, held in January in Palm Springs, CA, by asking outgoing I-CAR CEO John Edelen to introduce new I-CAR chair John Van Alstyne, who takes the helm of the training organization this month.

Quinn followed Van Alstyne’s brief remarks by praising Edelen’s efforts at transitioning I-CAR over the past three years. “If I’m able to engage the industry as much as John Edelen has engaged the industry in the last several years, I’ll be successful as CIC chair,” Quinn said.

The first meeting of a new CIC chairman’s term is generally set aside as a “planning meeting,” one in which participants discuss the issues they’d like to see CIC address in the coming year or two, and form the committees to which those issues are assigned.

In Palm Springs, about 10 committees were approved to move ahead with their proposals of what they would work to accomplish in the coming year or two.

A “Data Privacy Committee,” for example, was formalized based on a taskforce that CIC created last year to address issues related to the use of shop estimate and other data. The issue has continued to grow in importance as the information providers shift toward “cloud computing” systems, in which estimates and even shop management system data are stored on the vendor’s computers rather than the shop’s.

Tony Passwater, who chairs the new committee, said part of what it will do is identify how shop data is being “captured, used, distributed, sold or reported on.” The committee, he said, also would seek to recommend guidelines or standards to protect the rights of shops, insurers and vehicle owners when this information is being captured or used in any way.

Currently, Passwater said, shops have little in the way of choice about such issues, basically having to subscribe to an estimating system service, for example, under the terms offered.

“If they do subscribe, they really don’t have any control of whether or not their data is used beyond their own internal use,” Passwater said. “I think the issue the collision repair industry has is that there should be some rights for the individual subscriber that this data cannot be used outside of their own internal use.”

Scott Biggs of Assured Performance Network said he’d also like to see the committee address the issue of the shop’s access to its own historical data once they no longer subscribe to that particular vendor’s service, for example, or if they want to access their current data through another service or application.

The CIC “Parts Committee” oversaw some of the most heated or controversial subject matter over the last two years at CIC, particularly surrounding concerns about structural non-OEM parts. That committee continues to have a long list of issues on its plate for 2011. It will be co-chaired by Chris Northup, a former Keystone Automotive executive who continues to work in the non-OEM parts industry, and Chris Caris of PCG Campbell, a marketing and communications firm whose clients include several automakers.

In a first for a CIC committee, the Parts Committee will also have an “executive board,” that will consist of a representative from various segments of the industry (repairers, insurers, automakers, alternative parts and paint/materials).

Several CIC participants offered ideas on issues the committee could address. Aaron Lofrano of F. Lofrano & Son Collision Centers in San Francisco, said he’d like the committee to address the issue of insurers asking shops to code parts in ways that don’t correctly identify them, as is required in some states.

Biggs said he’d like to see the committee develop some industry “ground rules” on when it is and isn’t appropriate to use certain types of parts. “Establishing some practical logic instead of just arbitrary rules that someone throws on you to use ‘X’ amount of this and ‘X’ amount of that,” Biggs said.

Rick Tuuri, who last year chaired the “Repairer-Insurer Relations Committee” said that group has already been asked for revisions to the “digital imaging best practices” document finalized just last year.

Ron Guilliams, who had chaired the CIC Definitions Committee, received a standing ovation at the first meeting he has attended in more than a year. Guilliams, who was seriously ill and in a coma for a number of months in 2010, thanked CIC participants for the support he and his family received during his illness and recovery. “I’m really glad to be here,” Guilliams said, drawing laughter from CIC attendees. “I can guarantee you I wouldn’t be standing here today with the same outlook and view of life if it wasn’t for all the support from you in this room. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

He said he would serve as vice-chair of the Definitions Committee in 2011, and that the committee planned to review CIC’s long-established definition of a “Class A shop,” would work to define a “green shop,” and would review CIC’s glossary of industry terms. The committee also may develop some best practices or guidelines for the communication to customers from shops and insurers.

“Is it, for example, right for the shop to be the one who informs someone their vehicle is a total loss, or that damage is not related to this particular claim,” Guilliams said. “In many instances, those lines of responsibility have been blurred. So one of the things the committee has been asked to look at is to try to get consensus on both sides on what really is the best practice, so we can standardize that.”

Other existing CIC committees that will continue in 2011 will include “Education and Training,” “Governmental and Regulatory,” and “Human Resources.”

CIC’s ad-hoc Marketing Committee reported in Palm Springs that its surveys after CIC’s last two meetings found that 87 percent of those responding said the presentations at the meetings had “good” or “very good” value for their business. More than 91 percent said the quality of the meeting content and the networking opportunities at the meetings were good or very good.

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