Ethics in The Auto Body Industry

There have been a number of these situations in the news lately. We and most of our competitors are on some insurance company Direct Repair Programs. These insurance referral programs can be good for helping us get new customers and also a great resource to help their customers understand that like everything else, there are good shops and bad shops. Most insurance companies do a good job of grading their preferred shops to help assure their customers get good results.

Regardless of what insurance programs we participate in, we insist on making quality repairs and using quality parts that assure the vehicle owner will get a proper and safe repair, and one that preserves the value and life of their car. We routinely advocate for what it takes to do the repairs right, many times without our customers even knowing we are doing it. We do openly discuss part choices with our customers when appropriate, because not all part choices will effect the outcome of a quality repair. If you need a light bulb changed and the Originally Manufactured Equipment part from the auto manufacturer is more expensive and offers no greater life, quality, or etc., we will generally choose the more economical part to complete the repairs. But if a quality repair can only be achieved with a new OEM part, then that is what we will insist on using. This also means us being tough on our suppliers in providing us a quality product.

We do all this despite negative pressures from some insurance companies. Every business faces pressures, whether it be from foreign competitors or from intermediaries like insurance companies such as those depicted in this CNN story. The important thing to take away from this story is how the auto body repair companies respond to these pressures. That is what makes the difference in their long term success or failure in serving their customers. We are not afraid of scrutiny, because knowing what you don’t know is very important and feedback is truly a gift to help a company understand where they need to improve. We believe that our best long term path is to work with insurance companies in taking care of our mutual customers.

Sometimes, the only way an insurance company understands what is right or wrong is when the repairer insists on what is right, based on a combination of experience, training, and manufacturer’s recommended specifications. An insurance company will tend to trust the words that are coming from someone who is doing an excellent job of taking care of their customers and is willing to put that business relationship on the line over an issue. This makes it important that our quality of work, Customer Service, turn around time, and estimate accuracy are excellent so we maintain this respect, and also ensure that the customer gets what they expect.

Steve Schaefer