By Joe Marconi
Shop production is a hot topic these days. High production results in higher sales and profits. But there seems to be so many obstacles to overcome to achieve high production levels.
I was discussing production with a few shop owners, and one shop owner mentioned that he recently hired a shop foreman; an “A” tech in his early 50’s. The foreman uses his knowledge and skills to organize the work flow. For younger techs, it’s even more important that they know how to work and keep productive.
What are your thoughts? Does anyone else have a foreman or similar position? And how does this role affect production?
By Voltek H/EV
Hello everyone, first post here,
I'm in the process of opening an actual shop, i've been a mobile mechanic for 10 years. I specialize in hybrid and electric vehicles. I've been searching prices on fluid exchanger machines, lifts and other pricey equipment. I've been looking at some really cheap Chinese equipment on ebay, i'm just wondering if anyone here has successfully used any of this equipment. It's tempting but I know the old "you get what you pay for" mantra. They got lifts for $1,600 and ATF fluid exchangers for $335. Might be worth trying the fluid exchanger on some of my own vehicles for that price. I appreciate any input, thank you!
For those with bodyshops, here is some interesting reading:
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.Â 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 itÂ 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.Â She responded with a perkyÂ “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.Â 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.
There are quite a few threads about pricing but I think it might be better to shift that discussion to value. How do you add value for your customers? For example, we have a very clean waiting room with coffee, wifi, nice music etc... We also, answer the phone in the happiest way possible, we use tablets for inspections, we vacuum the front footwells for all oil changes, we have demo parts to help educate customers and we have a 3yr 36k warranty. Recently I've been trying to dream up ways to add even more value so I can compete hard on what I deliver. For example, I just added a 20 year master tech, I thought I could vacuum every car and leave a thank you note on the dash.
What are you doing to add value? What additional value are you adding that I'm not doing? I would love to borrow some ideas if you are willing to share.
By Elon Block
New blog post on this very important topic here:
All major pricing changes like this one, affects everyone in the auto repair industry.