by Angie Wilson
ASA's Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Key business drivers, total loss percentages and mobile estimating pros and cons were among the many trends discussed at Wednesday's NACE Conference session, "DRP Trends: Where's the Industry Going?"
A five-member panel of both repairer and insurer representatives led the session, which was moderated by Pinna Gallant, ADP Claims Services Group. Panelists included Flavio Battilana, CARSTAR Automotive Canada, director, insurance relations; Bill Brower, Liberty Mutual, assistant vice president, auto physical damage; Vince Vecchiarelli, Hank's Auto Body West, president; Chris Evans, State Farm Insurance, Estimatics consultant; and Clark Plucinski, True2Form Collision Repair, executive vice president.
Panelists kicked off the discussion sharing their individual views on direct repair programs, the success of these programs and some of the challenges. Summarizing the panel's comments, there was overall agreement that successful DRP agreements rely on a variety of factors, and knowing the "numbers" is certainly a primary concern for all parties.
"We don't get enough data," said Evans, who believes DRPs are going in the right direction. Looking ahead, key factors are efficiency, speed, competitive pricing and quality - all relative to the local market, explained Evans.
Plucinski, speaking on behalf of the repair segment, said using tools effectively is vital and emphasized the importance of measurement in terms of a business's processes and procedures, understanding those processes and building on that plan. "'Faster, cheaper, better' is possible today," said Plucinski, based on using tools efficiently and increased accountability.
Exceptional customer service was a key component to success across the board, but measurement was another common denominator throughout the discussion. This can be done in multiple ways, and the most successful businesses will be proactive in these processes, panelists agreed. Whether measuring performance, output, turn time, etc., one must really know their business and work to improve every stage of it. Regardless of which matrices are applied, apply them, study them and improve the way you do business to compete in today's market.
Good CSI reports were stresses by several panelists as a key matrix. Brower, who incorporated customer service into the mix of vital factors, recommended using a 10-point scale instead of "yes and no" questions to make customer surveys more effective.
Plucinski also shared with the group the importance of benchmarking and said, "We have to know ourselves - on a gut level - to know what's right and wrong."
The session concluded with audience participation. The panelists addressed such topics as mobile estimating, cycle time, and new tools and technology as they relate to hybrid vehicles. DRPs are not shrinking, concluded the panel, however growing DRP numbers may not equate to growing the number of shops in such programs, but rather continuing to utilize effectively those that already are.
Although challenges certainly exist in the partnerships between the DRP players, Plucinski summed it up by saying he couldn't be more pleased with what he's seeing in the DRP arena due to the ability of the parties to work together to decide the best repair scenario.