In 2012, the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG) received more than 1,300 inquiries, an increase of approximately 30% from the previous two years, DEG Administrator Arthur Harris reported. This year, DEG expects to receive more than 1,500 inquiries.
The DEG was built to help address individual estimating database issues on specific vehicles. As a free service, those who use estimate systems may submit inquiries to the DEG when they encounter questions or concerns relative to estimating data. The DEG acts as a go-between for shops and information providers—CCC, Mitchell and Audatex—to improve the quality and accuracy of the data used to generate collision repair estimates and to provide feedback to information providers.
As an advocate, the DEG will process all submitted database inquiries to information providers until a conclusion is reached. All issues and responses are posted on the website and visible to all. Through feedback by repairers, the DEG can help fix footnotes, inaccurate labor times, missing parts, incorrect part numbers, and substrate identification. Upon receiving an inquiry, Harris said the question is posted on their website and forwarded to the information provider within 24 hours. Many inquiries are resolved and responded to within 2-3 days, depending on the complexity of the inquiry and responsiveness of the information provider. Response times are posted directly on the website database for clear transparency into the process times for each of the three information providers.
The DEG database is a valuable tool for the collision repair industry as it provides valuable feedback on missing, unclear or potentially inaccurate data within the estimate systems, Harris said. Often, an inquiry can result in changes to the database or P-Pages. Shops are also encouraged to submit pictures or short videos with technicians performing the task in question or related to the problem.
The DEG public database has been available for five years, said Harris, who has been with the non-profit for over two years. As the administrator, Harris is responsible for daily operations of processing inquiries and is assisted by a joint operating committee. With 25 years in the industry, Harris’ background includes managing a collision center at a dealership in Rochester, NY, and in another position, working as a training and education director and liaison between the collision repair shop and insurance companies to resolve issues.
“We are really excited about the 30% increase of inquiries because it means the industry is taking advantage of the resource, and that it is providing a necessary and useful tool for collision shops,” Harris said. “That said, we know we are only scratching at the surface. If you look at the number of body shops in the U.S. (approximately 35,000), 1,300 to 1,500 inquiries in a year is probably not representative of the full spectrum of data corrections that need to be addressed. We think there are more areas within the databases that can be resolved if more people were exposed to how easy it is to communicate with IPs through our process, and how effective that communication is when estimators submit issues.”
In December 2012, the DEG launched a redesigned website (www.degweb.org) that is easier to navigate. Users can jump right into the inquiry process with an easily visible “Open Inquiry” button located on the home page. The most significant addition to the website is the addition of a “Top 10 List” for each of the three information providers. These lists are generated by the most frequent issues posted by users or enhancements users would like to see.
In the Top 10 Lists for all three information providers, the top user concern listed for each is “Feather, Prime and Block”—users would like to see the systems generate a pop-up to add feather, prime and block labor to the estimate. The user would create the time, but the system needs the option to add it, without creating a manual entry. Another top concern is adding an option—“add for prep raw part”—for preparation time for plastic parts (in addition to bumpers) that are shipped raw or in an unprimed state.
In addition, the newly designed website continues to includes links to estimating guides or “P-Pages” for each estimating system.
“We are really excited about the new design of the website,” Harris said. “It gives the user the opportunity to get to a few key areas right away.”
The DEG is equally funded by the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) as a free service to the industry.
Sponsors include industry organizations such as Automotive Body Repair News, PPG, Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA), DuPont, Sherwin Williams and Keenan Auto Body.
“While the service is free to use, we really rely on financial support from the industry, both in the form of sponsorships and donations from satisfied end-users. This support lessens the ongoing financial reliance on the primary funding associations, allowing them to redirect funds to new resources that help the industry in other ways,” Harris said. “All the services that we do are free.”
For more information or to submit an inquiry, go to www.degweb.org.