The Northern Michigan Body Shop Association kicked-off 2012 with Mike Anderson of Collision Advice presenting two topics to collision industry professionals. The first topic, “Educate, Not Alienate” encouraged estimators and technicians to “have the facts ready” when communicating with an adjustor, insurer, and/or customer. He explained that too often in this industry, emotions run high which tends to negatively affect the situation at hand; it’s best to be prepared with the facts, data, and “bottom-line” to be knowledgeable regarding the issue when trying to make a point—you’ll get much further when you have facts to back you up.
Anderson’s second topic, “Understanding Continuous Improvement” focused on the many issues a repair facility deals with on a daily basis and emphasized measures a shop can implement to reduce the root cause of those issues.
Early in the year, the NMBSA also became an affiliate member of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) in support of its educational material such as “The SCRS Guide to Complete Repair Planning” and information specific to insurer activities such as parts procurement.
In May, the association held its first trade show in Petoskey, MI. This event was well-received and provided an opportunity for technicians, estimators and others in the industry to explore approximately 30 vendor booths. There was a wide variety of products and/or services on display including suppliers of paint, tools, booth equipment, shop supplies, information technology and others.
The Fifth Annual Body Shop Rally was held in Mackinaw City during August. This event, attended by over 100 people, provided an opportunity for industry professionals to just “kick-back” and enjoy cruising the Straits of Mackinac while visiting with technicians, estimators, managers, and vendors from throughout northern Michigan.
In October, attorney Erica Eversman spoke at the NMBSA Annual Meeting in Traverse City, MI. The presentation focused on “Parts Procurement” and the impact it will have on the collision industry. According to Eversman, the State Farm parts procurement pilot program has recently expanded and while there have been many associations speaking out against the program, many shop owners are still unaware of the negative consequences.
Approximately 45 attendees, collision repairers and vendors, listened as Eversman described how the parts procurement process would further affect the repairers’ loss of business control, reduce facility profit margins, and potentially lead to other types of “procurement type processes.” Expansion of this process into other profit centers within a repair facility, such as paint and material, will only further erode shop operations and margins. She explained the future of the industry hinges on what happens now and those who participate in these types of programs have little or no concern for the future of this industry.
In recent weeks, the NMBSA has started a radio advertising campaign focused on educating the consumer. The first commercial airing focuses on “Consumer Rights” specific to steering. Response has been fantastic from both consumers and those in the industry.
The NMBSA has also drafted a bill to amend 1956 PA 218 and plans to have this bill introduced in the legislature during 2013. The focus of this bill is “Consumer Rights and Protection” specific to a collision loss.