Many repairers are asking themselves and others what they need to do to find more work. What is the secret to getting on an insurers list? How do I get an OEM badge? And ultimately, what can we do to make more money?
In a previous article “Looking for more work?” we discussed the current trend of a smaller group of repairers securing a larger portion of the available repair work, while the remaining much larger group of repairers is having to share an ever shrinking pool of the remaining work. You can read the article here. What we are discovering in our travels across the country is that more and more of the available insurance work is being directed or steered into a shrinking network of repairers.
Why do insurance work providers want to deal with fewer repairers? Because they want to have fewer specialists to manage in their supply chain.
Why do insurers want to have fewer specialists in their supply chain? Because it is easier to deal with a smaller group of consistent and reliable specialists than it is to deal with a larger group specialists that vary in quality, service delivery, capability, capacity and reliability.
Why is it easier to deal with a smaller group of suppliers? Well if you have to ask this, they you probably aren’t on the insurers preferred list anymore.
It is sad to say that our industry, like many others, does not generally embrace change. As craftsmen and specialists we have the natural mindset to be focussed on ourselves. We see ourselves as the most important member on the collision repair supply chain. Because it is all about us we have a $100k chassis rack in the corner with bumpers stored on it, while our customers drive around in a $2000 loan car! Being technically focussed, we acknowledge change in vehicle technology and welding technology but have overlooked the change in our own people. We overlooked the change in our customers and we decided not to listen when our customers started asking for us to deliver something more than “Quality maaate!”
Repairers will (reluctantly) invest in a new welder, a new paint system, a chassis rack or an electronic measuring system because it is all about them, all about quality. But, rarely will they invest in systems, training or procedures. Rarely are they interested in investing resources in recruiting and retaining high quality staff. Training budgets are unheard of and “employee satisfaction” is a relatively unheard of term.
Is your attention focused within the 4 walls of your workshop? Or, is it focussed on your customer, the REAL customer?
So, even with the best chassis rack, an Inverter spot welder and an electronic measuring system in the shed, why can’t you get any more work?
Chances are it’s because you are missing one or two of the three crucial golden elements your insurance and retail customers are looking for.
What are the magic three elements that all the successful shops have in common? What are the super shops delivering that you are not? What are the three key issues that affect your own purchases in a retail or trade transaction?
Quality, Price and Timeliness:
Pure Gold or an Impossible Utopia?
Insurers are consumers just like you and I. And like all consumers they have these three basic needs. When there is a requirement to purchase a product or service these three needs are weighed up by the consumer and a decision is made to purchase or not to purchase: Can you give me what I want, at a price I’m prepared to pay in a time frame that suits me?
How it happens every day in our world:
Customer: “I want to buy some of the services you sell.”
Repairer: “Great, you have come to the right place we are the best repairer in the town!”
Customer: “How do I know you will do a really good job on my car?”
Repairer: “Mate, we are the best repairer in town, I already told you that.”
Customer: “Um, Ok, I guess all these certificates on the wall must mean something, right?
How much will it cost me to have this job done then?”
Repairer: “Well, there are a lot of different variable involved and I can give you an estimate, here, I’ll write the price on the back of this business card for you… we don’t have time to write a quote for everyone that walks in the door you know.”
Customer: “Right, so is this a fixed price then?”
Repairer: “No, we can’t give you a fixed price, what if we find more damage, or it takes longer to fix than we thought, I don’t have a crystal ball anymore. The apprentice dropped it and the bloody insurer wouldn’t pay to get it fixed!”
Customer: “Hmm, So I’ll have to take your word on the quality of your repairs and you can’t give me a definite price… How long will it take?”
Repairer: “Well, how long is a piece of string? If you drop it off on Monday you should get it back by Friday.”
Customer: “Should get it back by Friday, when will I know?”
Repairer: “Well, if you call me on Friday afternoon whoever answers the phone should be able to give you an idea of when you can expect it back.”
Customer: “So, I have to take your word that you are the best repairer in town, you can’t give me a reliable price and I could be up for a lot more than what you have quoted me. And, on top of that, you can’t tell me with any certainty when I can expect to have my car back?”
Repairer: “So, when do you want to book it in then…?”
This may seem like a familiar conversation to most insurers and some repairers. Those in denial would claim to be nothing like this when it comes to dealing with customers. Sadly, the vast majority of repairers actually do this every day to their insurance customers and these same repairers are asking why the insurers are not sending them work anymore.
Every single day, the vast majority of our repair network treats their insurance customers just like this. Every day we fail to deliver consistent Quality at a suitable Price in a reasonable Timeframe. The best most can manage is one out of three and a few can manage two at a stretch.
If you do high quality work in an appropriate time frame but your price is too high, the customer will walk.
If you do low quality work in an appropriate time frame and your price is right, the customer will walk.
If you do high quality work at the right price but it takes you too long to get the customer in and takes you even longer to finish the job, the customer will still walk away.
In years gone past, two out of three was acceptable. Two out of three could build you a successful business. But these days the insurance customer needs all three and nothing less. They need you to deliver all three to maintain policy holder retention and a competitive edge in the market.
To get the work and get the deals you are going to need to deliver:
- Every vehicle repaired to an acceptable quality standard, not too high and not too low.
- Every vehicle repaired for an appropriate and acceptable price.
- Every vehicle repaired in an appropriate time frame.
If you can manage all three of these things, you stand a very good chance of securing insurance and OEM approved repairer status. Repair facilities that deliver on all three of these points tend to be more professional, more successful and attract a higher grade of customer and employees.
Insurers don’t really give a toss if you have the latest spray booth, the fanciest welders or a whole bunch of certificates on the wall. They want to know why you aren’t job costing every job. They want to know why it takes you 12 days to do 20 hours work on a vehicle. They want to know how you are making an effort to cut down your repair times. They want to know what the price will be and they want you to stick to it!
Because we didn’t listen over the years when the customer asked us to deliver on these three golden requirements, they forced their will upon us. The insurer can’t control our quality or timeliness but they can control cost. They can enforce rates and times and they can now even enforce where we buy our parts. Because we didn’t give them what they asked for they pushed us around and we (sometimes) pushed back. Now as the control of work is taken away from us we sit back and watch the clever repairers soak it all up. The clever repairers re-tooled, up-skilled their staff and delivered the golden three: An acceptable quality repair, at an acceptable price in a reasonable time-frame.
Can you offer the price, quality and timeframes your customers really need?
Can you consistently and sustainably deliver the prices, quality and time frames that your competitors are achieving?
Is two out of three good enough?