The Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association (WMABA) has released the results of the 2013 independent labor rate survey conducted by CSi Complete for Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. At a time when virtually every business expense imaginable is on a steep rise, the year-to-year door rates of shops in the WMABA demographic have stayed essentially the same - especially when considering a +/- 5% (five percent) margin of error that may have led to some of the slight variances in the figures.
To Access the Results, go to: http://wmaba.com/labor-rate-survey/
WMABA shows that a range of rates (as well as an average) further clarify that the industry is stagnant. "Depending on which area you're in, it doesn't seem that the actual rate has changed in most of these markets for close to 10 years," said WMABA President Barry Dorn. "Looking at this survey shows that there is a big difference between what you're told is the rate within a market and what a statistically valid survey shows. Shops are merely existing; they're not able to make a return on their investment or able to plan for future equipment and updates. They're not able to give raises to their employees or add benefits."
"The rates that are paid by insurance companies have stayed pretty steady; it's a daily struggle because every expense we have has gone up year after year," added Don Beaver, WMABA Board member and collision center manager at Antwerpen Nissan in Clarksville, MD. "If we don't do something to bring those rates up, our meager profits are going to be nothing."
Numbers aside, perhaps the most positive aspect of the 2013 Survey was shops' willingness to participate. At least 50% of the shops that took the survey did so online through http://www.wmaba.com - a substantial increase over last year. The range of rates reported is the most important area for repairers' attention. This figure show the high and low of a particular region and how a repairer could fall somewhere in there and be within "normal."
"Shops were more likely to participate because they understood the process from last year," said WMABA Executive Director Jordan Hendler. "They definitely had less concern this year, because last year's process was new to them and they weren't sure how it was going to go. But after going through it once already, it was easy for them to do it and they knew their personal shop data wasn't going to be shared."
Moving ahead, Dorn is confident that shops will take future surveys and assist the association in truly differentiating between door rates and the concessionary figures derived from DRP contracts. "Insurers take contractual information and somehow want to use that to show what the market is," he says. "I think some shops do the same thing; they assume that because that's what a carrier said the rate was within the market, it must be what it is."
Although the 2013 results show little change over the 2012 project, Beaver believes that this year's Survey is merely a step in a much greater undertaking - one that will require a great deal of patience and participation. "I really hope we continue to do this every year so that it becomes more commonplace for everybody to fill it out," he shares. "It may be three or four years before this [survey] actually shows a trend."
As Hendler says, "A Labor Rate Survey is what it is. It's not speculation; it's just really good insight for the association and the industry to have into what our areas look like in these categories. It is a snapshot of fact. The fact is, rates are the same as last year."