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  • General Discussion

    • CHAT Back Online
      We have a chat room back up, which you can navigate to by clicking on the CHAT link in the main menu. This is a temporary chat room while we look over permanent solutions for AutoShopOwner. We made an announcement last week that the old chat is no longer available due to the company who provides the server, shutting down. 
    • Do we still need a chat, please vote
      Lately our traffic and participation in the forums has been rising but the chat room, especially Sunday chat is not being utilized as much. The question came up whether we still even need a chat section or Sunday night chat. Please take a moment to vote, so we can poll our community on this topic.  Our chat room is located here: https://www.autoshopowner.com/chatroom/ (if you don't see it, please clear your cookies/cache) Please feel free to comment on this topic.  
    • For those fighting to get the proper compensation …
      For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading: http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/?p=111   bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/ John Shortell I’ve taken a part time job working at an independent body shop close to my home writing estimates and supplements and harassing insurance companies. I’ve been at it for a few months now and up until recently I haven’t seen or heard from a Progressive appraiser. Finally, several weeks ago, I had a customer who was hit by one of Progressive’s insureds. Because I’m in a different area of the state now, I’m unfamiliar with the local appraisers. More importantly, they are unfamiliar with me. What fun!   First let me admit that I was spoiled working at a high line dealership body shop. Those evil rich drove nice new cars that demanded nice new OEM parts. Now all I see are Honda’s and Hyundai’s. Old ones at that. I’ve never seen so many junk cars in my life. But I guess the poor have to drive too. Anyway, I had a customer who was hit by a Progressive insured. I wrote an estimate and asked the customer to make arrangements to meet the Progressive appraiser here at my shop. Progressive people hate that. They’d rather look at the vehicle somewhere else. Any where I am not. When the Progressive appraiser showed up I knew there would be trouble. He looked to be about 12 years old. He fit Progressive’s archetype for their ideal appraiser: young, naive and no experience in the collision repair industry. His estimate was several hundred dollars less than mine. No surprise there. But it was a small repair, and that several hundred dollars amounted to about 30% of my estimate. Of course, the labor rate was an issue, but what really got me wound up with this moronic “blend within the panel” crap. I basically told the kid he could take his “blend within the panel” and have his first sexual experience with it. I wasn’t going to accept it. There were some other issues too, and it all added up to the 30% deficiency. I was beginning to lose my cool because this prepubescent putz couldn’t figure out how to meet my bottom line, so I told him to do what a lot of other appraisers do: make something up and put it on the estimate. Of course, I was being sarcastic, but being so young, this kid didn’t understand the sarcasm and took offense to my suggesting he commit fraud. Well at least the kid is honest. I asked the kid for his appraiser’s license number and the name of his supervisor and explained that I would be filing a complaint with the insurance department, which I did immediately after he left (And don’t we all know how effective that was). I told the customer not to worry about the difference–I would take care of it. I had her sign a repair authorization, a direction to pay and a power of attorney in case I had to sue the bastards. Working at a dealership I never had the opportunity to sue an insurance company because the owner didn’t want the trouble, but now that I’m working at a small independent shop, the owner is willing to go after insurers who don’t play nice. I spoke with the kid’s supervisor over the phone about the situation. For the record, she was very pleasant, just like talking to sweet high school girl. I didn’t meet her in person, but by the sound of her voice she was another Progressive clone–too young and inexperienced in anything to be dealing with these issues. But she promised to look into it. I knew I was wasting my time, and I was. After three days of haggling, the young girl managed to come up with another hundred dollars. She was still a couple of hundred short. I explained to her that I was going to sue her insured for the balance. She responded with a perky “OK” like I had just asked her if she wanted to go hang out at the mall. She was trained to perfection. Great job Progressive behavior modification department! With little effort I was able to locate the guy who hit my customer and promptly mailed him the following letter: A few days later I received a phone call from Mr. XXXX. He wanted to discuss the matter. I explained the situation to him in more detail, and he agreed to pay the balance owed and then deal with his insurance company. I again offered to help him in any way I could with filing a complaint with the insurance department or recovering the money from Progressive. He didn’t take me up on the offer, but he did send a check the next day. I’ve yet to hear from him or Progressive so I have no idea if he was reimbursed or not. I do know the gentleman was not too happy about having pay for repairs to someone else’s car after he had been paying premiums for liability insurance. Something tells me Mr. XXXX will be finding someone else to send his hard earned money to for insurance in the near future. I fully expected to have to go to small claims court. I knew Progressive would not give in, and I never expected the insured to cough up the money so easily. I feel sorry for the poor bastard. But I’ll be damned if I will become a cheap whore just because Progressive is too profit driven to treat my customers fairly. It’s ironic. Progressive was started by a left wing socialist. The name Progressive is not a coincidence. This nut job and his dope smoking kid, who recently stepped down from running the company, preached the progressive movements dogma, and heavily funded many of its whacked out causes. Progressives are supposed to be more fair than the evil rich. They are supposed to care about the little guy and scorn the evil corporations, yet here they are now acting as bad as any corporation ever did. They only care about their profit and share holders. Kind of makes them big time hypocrites. Just my humble opinion. Lesson learned? Never sell yourself short. If you’re going to be a whore, at least be a high priced whore. Stand up for yourself. Had I gone to court, I most certainly would have won. It is astonishingly easy to demonstrate to a judge how labor rates are artificially suppressed by insurers, how they manipulate the system for their corporate financial gain, and that they will do just about anything to save a buck. To be fair, I would probably do the same if I worked for Progressive or another insurance company. It is all part of their survival. When your cat eats a cute little bird, you may think it horrific, but it is only natural. And it is only natural for collision repairers to fight to survive. What is not natural is when collision repairers give up and play nice at the risk of losing everything. That’s agonizing suicide. If you’re thinking that I spend a lot of time talking about Progressive, there’s good reason. First, they deserve it. Second, I know my audience–and it’s Progressive. For this past year, Progressive Insurance has been my number one visitor to this website. State Farm has been catching up lately. They are the top visitor this month. Way ahead of everyone else. The only other entities that generate more traffic to this site are the large ISP’s like Road Runner and AOL. I’m flattered. Hopefully some of what I talk about is subliminally sinking in. Oh yeah, remember my prediction about CCC’s announcement that it would get rid of the prompts for bumper covers? I said it would be slow in coming. Well here we are a couple of months and updates later and it’s still there. Your complaints forced them to make a public acquiescence, but now that the hell raising has died down, no need to rush things. We’re still waiting CCC. Wassup? One more thing. Apparently there is a lawsuit going on in Arizona against Progressive. The plaintiffs have deposed a former Progressive employee. The deposition is interesting reading. For an inside look on the pressure and incentives to steer vehicles to network shops give it a read. It is only a partial transcript. If anyone has the entire document or a link, please send it to me or link to it in the comments section.   http://www.bodyshopsolutions.com/WordPress/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/nobile-iacano-docs.pdf  
  • Regional Automotive Shop Management Discussions

    • Some People Are Cut Out For This
      Wow, some people are really cut out for this. I've been doing it in my 2 bay shop since 09, and I think it's time to close the doors.
    • Nys inspection to test window tint
      Just over the wire today is all nys inspection stations will be required to test window tint as part of the inspection starting Jan 1. Anything blocking more than 30% light fails. More equipment to buy, more time, not to mention how does the average shop deal with removing window tint? I'm not opposed to keeping police safe from thugs with limo tint on the drivers window but I feel that's the police's job not the "safety/emissions" inspector.
    • Anyone in the Triangle? NC
      Anyone here in the Triangle area in NC? I'd love to meet up and get coffee
  • Automotive Repair Shop Management

    • Get more USAA customers from RepairPal
                Become RepairPal Certified And Join The USAA Referral Program USAA will be promoting RepairPal Certified shops to customers near you in need of repairs and routine maintenance. They will be promoting shops in several ways, including through the USAA insurance website. About USAA:  USAA has more than 11 million members, with 92% saying they plan on staying with USAA for life. USAA has higher satisfaction ratings than any other public company in the United States. Their members trust and believe in their recommendations. What USAA Members Are Saying About RepairPal Certified Shops: 91% say they’d refer a friend to a RepairPal shop.
      100% say they received GREAT service.
      95% say their car was ready when promised *Stats based on a post-repair survey of USAA members, in which they rated various aspects of their experience on a 1-10 scale. The above percentages were calculated based on USAA members who gave a rating of 8 or higher in each category. Program FAQs: Will USAA be controlling the prices I charge in my shop?
      No, USAA will be using the RepairPal fair price guarantee, as calculated by our estimator. They are not going to impose any additional restrictions on parts and labor fees. Does USAA pay for shop fees or diagnostics?
      No, USAA is not going to be financially involved in this transaction. It is a referral program. Will USAA be collecting payments from their members for the referrals they’re making? Not at this time. USAA will refer the members to your shop and you’ll collect payment for any services rendered as you normally do   We are only looking for shops in these areas: San Diego San Antonio Maricopa, AZ Los Angeles Fairfax, VA El Paso - Denver, CO Harrix, TX Seattle Tacoma Tarrant County, Tx Tampa Pierce, WA Dallas Honolulu Travis, TX Orange, CA Virginia Beach, VA Cumberland, NC Clark, NV Jacksonville, FL Bell, TX   Are you in one of these locations?  Then please apply here:   Sign Me Up! Repairpal-Shops.Com/USAA
    • Walkin customers get better pricing than you when …
        I'm going through reciepts to double check profitability. I am stumbling across instances where I am finding Joe Blow off the street getting better prices than us spending $2k per week.   This is what i believe happens when a parts house knows "You're comfortable" like Ken was.   Over time, if someone is paid commission's on sale (not gp) it is the natural course of what happens. You're comfortable, it's convenient, it's a product of the system. My realtor will "negotiate" for me but how intensely? If I'm asking them to take a pay cut to make a lower offer how enthusiastic will they be? Not very. Product of the system.   On another example I was quoted 3 prices today for gas tank straps on a '98 Tahoe. $130, $133 and $54. I did the extra calling because no place could get it for a week. I'm glad I am not to comfortable.   I'm not mad. It is what it is, they all do this and is not because I'm not just "doggedly loyal" to one vendor.       Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk    
    • Consider Joining Family Service Day!
      At the Ratchet + Wrench Conference last month, I met Charlie Marcotte, owner of Amerian Pride Auto in Virginia and the founder of Family Service Day. After doing a little research, I joined the organization.   Family Service Day originated in 2009 with a Williamsburg, Virginia based company, American Pride Auto. The idea was simple: offer support to single parent families and deployed military by offering the gifts and talents we have been given, the ability to repair vehicles, for free. There are really no limitations — if you have desire to make an impact in your community, Family Service Day is a great way to get involved.   Getting involved in your community is the best way to make your shop stand out as the business that cares about people. Plus, it will get your staff involved which will boost morale. You can reach out to your vendors for help with parts and also get major businesses in your area to help sponsor the event.   Shop owners, I recommend that you find out more about Family Service Day. Below is a link for more information:   http://www.familyserviceday.org/
  • Automotive Repair & Technical Discussions

    • Dedicated alignment lift or 2 post with stands?
      Anyone using alignment stands on a 2 post lift? How are they for daily use?   I have a smaller shop with 2 techs and 3 bays, We have 2 lifts and 1 small "flat" bay. We are Japanese specialty shop that is growing and we were planning to add a new lift to the flat bay. The bay is not deep enough for a true 4 post alignment lift, so I was planning to purchase a new 2 post lift and add stands with an alignment machine in the near future. In searching for the right lift to be used with stands, I was just offered a used 2 post Hunter alignment rack that would fit in the bay for the same price as the 2 post with stands... and that really got me thinking...   We do an average of 25 cars a week on 2 makes and we are adding 3 more early this year (thus the need for another lift). We just started doing tires this past year and only sublet alignments when they are absolutely necessary. Our situation is pushing us towards needing an alignment machine in house, but we could use another lift for "over flow" just a much.     Knowing that we will be doing alignments out of necessity in the near future, I am leaning towards having a dedicated alignment lift. My questions are:   1. Does anyone regret purchasing their stands over an actual alignment lift? 2. Does anyone do "other" work on their alignment lift? 3. And how many alignments should I really expect?     If space were a major issue, what would you do? (Drive-on alignment lift -OR- 2 post lift with alignment stands?)
    • Shop Equipment Resources
      What is the best places you've found for shop equipment?   For me, I've found. 1.bestbuyautoequipment.com 2.gregsmithequipment.com   Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk    
    • Hofmann vs Ravaglioli aligner
      Anybody out there have experience with the new generation of Hofmann or Ravaglioli aligners such as the ones in the links below? We've been using Hunter forever, but feel like it is time to ask ourselves if Hunter really is the best option or is it time to give something else a try. Any feedback on performance and service after the sale would be greatly appreciated.  https://ravamerica.com/automotive-alignment-equipment/vistar-td3000hp-tower-free-3d-alignment-system/   http://www.hofmann-usa.com/wa-geoliner-770.asp