Let’s hope it doesn’t happen
By Darryl Simmons
The response to my last column, “The Tipping Point” was much larger than I expected. Please share your concerns. Email letters came in from across the country and each said the same thing. As a store owner or manager, you know the situation all too well. There is no reason to go into all the details. The main point is that progressive, well-trained and well-equipped stores do not make enough money based on the rates paid at the door by insurance companies. And the biggest problem: there always seems to be a store ready to work for the lowest price. It’s a race to the bottom. In this race, no one wins.
Profitability is not a dirty word. Without this, collision centers are unable to attract new people or invest in new training and new products. Without profits, we risk being able to carry out vehicle repairs safely. The responses I received were all anonymous or asked not to be quoted. Not only is it very revealing; but it is also very disconcerting and frightening. It should be terrifying when an industry is afraid to talk to partners. No sector of the industry was spared the scathing comments. Everyone has their share of responsibility: insurers, manufacturers, suppliers, banners and investment funds, and even the media, including Collision Repair magazine.
It is crucial that the voice of these repairers does not remain silent. It’s scary to know that they felt the need to remain anonymous, that they couldn’t stand up and freely say what was on their mind for fear of repercussions. It’s abundantly clear that store owners want to publicly voice their concerns without repercussions. Yes, we have opportunities for manufacturers, insurers and networks to come together and discuss, but it is the collision centers themselves that need to have a voice to speak. You do the work and you face the customer on a daily basis.
We need your help, as readers and marketers, to guide us on how to initiate positive discussions with all industry partners. And these should include measurable goals. Is this something that could be done in a public meeting? Can this be done through a Zoom meeting or webinar panel? This is the approach we are currently working on here at the magazine.
Awareness of the issue is important, but it has already been done. Everyone is aware. Knowing there is a problem is a good first step, but we are past that point. It is time to develop viable solutions. Based on the responses, we at Collision Repair are working to open a dialogue with all partners in a meaningful discussion in hopes of bringing about some serious changes in the works. It’s a small step, but hopefully in the right direction.
According to one writer, I “may have bitten off more than I could chew”, when I asked for feedback. They may be right, but let’s do everything we can to avoid moving “The Tipping Point” to “The Breaking Point”.