Tuesday, 20 November 2012 21:18

MCRA Continues to Grow, Discusses PartsTrader, P-Pages and Material Invoicing

The Mississippi Collision Repair Association continues to grow to the north and south. The MCRA held a meeting in north Mississippi Nov. 13 in Oxford. Other recent expansion meetings included one in Gulfport in September and in Cleveland, MI, in October.

“The association here is gaining members at a brisk pace. Member shops are sharing information and we are beginning to be paid for things we have never been paid for in the past,” said member Bill Fowler, owner of Bill Fowler’s Bodyworks in Southaven.

Fowler reports the average attendance at each meeting has been about 25 participants, comprised of shop owners and managers and vendors, including English Color,  and Michael Joe Cannon, who owns several dealerships across north central Mississippi.

With a network of member shops being established across the state, consumers have a support network equal to or greater than some of the networks touted by insurers as an attribute formerly exclusive to multi-shop operations managed by many of the chain stores and franchise operations, Fowler said.

“Member shops now have the ability to communicate with other member shops to stay current with market trends and overcome some of the problems typically associated with the distances that separate them. Consumer education to overcome insurer steering, the use of inferior parts, and the proliferation of inferior repairs will be addressed by a very aggressive advertising campaign and a MCRA website that is currently under construction and will be up and running in the near future,” said Fowler.

In addition, MCRA is also discussing the PartsTrader issue with its members. Steve Plier, a former estimatics team manager for State Farm and now president of C.A.R.E., an industry consulting firm, spoke how the PartsTrader program is being received in test markets and how the program can affect Mississippi shops. Like many other shops across the country, Mississippi shop owners feel a “nagging question” remains unanswered by both State Farm and PartsTrader as to what tangible benefits the program offers consumers, vendors and shops, Fowler said.

“At this point, it does not appear the program will be well received in Mississippi, judging by observations made by meeting attendees,” Fowler reported.

Other issues discussed at the recent Mississippi Collision Repair Association meetings include material invoicing being presented as a better alternative to current methods that have been used for decades in calculating charges for paint and repair. Plier gave a demonstration using PMC Logic to illustrate the inadequacy of the labor X rate formula. “It was widely agreed that an invoice system must be utilized in order to properly document material usage, cost and generate a more accurate accounting of actual material costs and subsequent charges on repair orders,” Fowler said.

Plier also presented information regarding proper observation of and adherence to P page operations as shops have become all to familiar with the words “We don’t pay for that”—a phrase that is hard to defend when confronted with procedures specifically outlined in the procedure pages explained by every data provider, Fowler said.

“As the MCRA gains membership, they are sure to become a formidable presence in the state of Mississippi. Outreach to the public, shops, vendors and legislators has already begun and response has been positive,” said Fowler.

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