Fender Bender - April 2024

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FENDERBENDER.COM / APRIL 2024 THE TOOLS TO BE SUCCESSFUL The Collision Engineering Program Brings Education and Industry Together in a Collaborative Partnership. PAGE 26 Making Students Great and Employers Greater Together with Enterprise, John Helterbrand, national program director, has duplicated the success of his apprenticeship program across the country. THE MSO REPORT CRASH COURSE IN SUCCESS PAGE 32 SHOULD ADAS REPAIRS BE REGULATED? PAGE 44 STANDARDIZE AND IMPROVE PROCESSES WITH LEAN PAGE 54 SPECIALIZE TO MAXIMIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT INVESTMENT PAGE 52
Open the door to body shop innovation. 3M™ RepairStack™ Performance Solutions 3M 2022. All rights reserved. 3M and RepairStack are trademarks or registered trademarks of 3M Company. All the products shown inside the 3M™️ RepairStack™️ Performance Solutions storage cabinet are sold separately. All products shown inside the cabinet are for illustration purposes only. The 3M™️ RepairStack™️ Performance Solutions storage cabinet works with both 3M and non-3M products. Unauthorized use prohibited. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Please recycle. Printed in USA. Keep track to be on track. Discover now at repairstack.com. Inventory management Billables invoicing Performance analytics For more information or to schedule a demo, please scan the QR code to connect with a 3M digital expert.
3 April 2024 fenderbender.com APRIL CONTENTS 04.24 | VOLUME 26 | NUMBER 04 FenderBender (USPS Permit 25614), (ISSN 1937-7150 print) is published monthly by Endeavor Business Media, LLC. 201 N Main St 5th Floor Fort Atkinson, WI 53538. Periodicals postage paid at Fort Atkinson, WI, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to FenderBender, PO Box 3257, Northbrook, IL 60065-3257. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Publisher reserves the right to reject non-qualified subscriptions. Subscription prices: U.S. ($90 per year). All subscriptions are payable in U.S. funds. Send subscription inquiries to FenderBender, PO Box 3257, Northbrook, IL 60065-3257. Customer service can be reached toll-free at 877-382-9187 or at fenderbender@omeda.com for magazine subscription assistance or questions. Printed in the USA. Copyright 2024 Endeavor Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopies, recordings, or any information storage or retrieval system without permission from the publisher. Endeavor Business Media, LLC does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any person or company for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in the material herein, regardless of whether such errors result from negligence, accident, or any other cause whatsoever. The views and opinions in the articles herein are not to be taken as official expressions of the publishers, unless so stated. The publishers do not warrant either expressly or by implication, the factual accuracy of the articles herein, nor do they so warrant any views or opinions by the authors of said articles. 26 THE TOOLS TO BE SUCCESSFUL The Collision Engineering Program Brings Education and Industry Together in a Collaborative Partnership BY JAY SICHT 32 CRASH COURSE IN SUCCESS Cole’s Collision’s blueprint for MSO success BY EMILY KLINE 39 FINANCE + OPERATIONS Create more value by scaling up 44 MSO OUTLOOK Verifying/ regulating adas repairs: how do we regulate ourselves before the government does? 46 THE SOP How to implement a pre-delivery checklist MSO REPORT
4 April 2024 fenderbender.com 50 22 STARTER QUICK FIX 08 DRIVERS SEAT Is your shop a welcoming environment for technicians? 10 PAST THE PAGE Guest Editorial: Oklahoma bill would limit repair labor and storage rates 13 BREAKDOWN War, Strikes, and Upgrades: The 2024 Outlook for Collision Repair 16 ON THE SCENE What was new at the International Bodyshop Industry Symposium - U.S. 21 NUMBERS Are you repairing more EVs? CONTENTS APRIL 50 CUSTOMER SERVICE How to inform customers of production delays 52 CASE STUDY How specialization can maximize your equipment investment 54 EDUCATION+ TRAINING Standardize and improve business processes with lean COLUMNS 24 SHOP PROFITS What’s your marketing strategy? BY GREG LOBSIGER 56 COLLISION COURSE Navigating insurance coverages for the vehicle in your shop BY TIFFANY MENEFEE 58 DUE PROCESS Everything of value stems from trust BY DREW BRYANT STRATEGY 18 LIGHT HITS Crash Champions CEO speaks on Performance Collision Centers acquisition, Insurers Graded on ‘Report Card,’ factory matte clear film for Mustangs, and more 22 SNAP SHOP The Carriage Shoppe focuses on the customer and lets the repairs speak for themselves.


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6 April 2024 fenderbender.com CLICK ON THE LOGO BELOW FOR PRODUCT INFORMATION CONTENTS ONLINE EXTRAS LKQ Corporation Axalta Coating Systems EDITORIAL Matt Hudson Content Director Jay Sicht Editor-in-Chief Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa Associate Editor Kacey Frederick Assistant Editor Emily Kline Special Projects Editor Leah Marxhausen Special Projects Editor Drew Bryant Contributing Writer Tiffany Menefee Contributing Writer Greg Lobsiger Contributing Writer Noah Brown Contributing Writer Lindsey Gainer Contributing Writer Todd Kortemeier Contributing Writer Steve Trapp Contributing Writer EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jordan Beshears Steve’s Auto Body Sheryl Driggers Collision Advice Frank Rinaudo Industry Consultant Jason Mundy Mundy’s Collision Center Stan Medina Certified Collision Works SALES Andrew Johnson Associate Publisher ajohnson@endeavorb2b.com Mattie Gorman-Greuel Associate Sales Director Cortni Jones Director of Business Development Diane Braden Account Executive (National Accounts) dbraden@endeavorb2b.com Marianne Dyal Account Executive (National Accounts) mdyal@endeavorb2b.com Chad Hjellming Account Executive (National Accounts) chjellming@endeavorb2b.com Lisa Mend Account Executive (National Accounts) lmend@endeavorb2b.com Martha Severson Account Executive (National Accounts) mseverson@endeavorb2b.com Kyle Shaw Account Executive (National Accounts) kshaw@endeavorb2b.com Sean Thornton Account Executive (National Accounts) sthornton@endeavorb2b.com Ryan McCanna Administrative Assistant ART AND PRODUCTION Mariah Straub Production Manager Jen George Ad Services Manager Mitch Bradford Art Director ENDEAVOR BUSINESS MEDIA, LLC CEO Chris Ferrell President June Griffin COO Patrick Rains CRO Reggie Lawrence Chief Digital Officer Jacquie Niemiec Chief Administrative and Legal Officer Tracy Kane EVP Endeavor Business Intelligence Paul Mattioli EVP Transportation Kylie Hirko VP and Group Publisher Chris Messer HOW TO REACH US Endeavor Business Media, LLC 571 Snelling Ave N Saint Paul, MN 55104 tel 651.224.6207 fax 651.224.6212 The annual subscription rate is $90 (U.S.A. only) for companies not qualified to receive complimentary copies of FenderBender. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR editor@fenderbender.com Opinions expressed in FenderBender are not necessarily those of Endeavor Business Media, and Endeavor Business Media does not accept responsibility for advertising content. ProColor Collision USA Huntington National Bank AUTEL MAHA USA Be prepared for modern and future headlight applications! Backed by OEMs Fast and Reliable results Capable of testing SAE and Adaptive Headlights CONTACT US sales@maha-usa.com +1 334 984 0153 maha-usa.com Scan for More Info MLT 3000: DIGITAL HEADLIGHT AIMER 2404FB_MAHA.indd 1 2/13/24 4:17 PM Buy Auto Supply 3M Polyvance Car-O-Liner Accudraft Flashback Forward 2404FB_FlashbackForward.indd 1 3/12/24 10:39 AM PPG Industries asTech KECO Body Repair Products Auto Data Labels SATA USA Inc. Launch Tech USA Automotive Training Institute TOPDON USA ®




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your shop a welcoming environment for technicians?

MORE THAN 30 YEARS AGO, when my car got sideswiped on the street where I parked each day for college, I chose the body shop highly recommended by friends.

The owner of the two-man shop, who was also the estimator and painter, was seated at a cluttered desk piled with hand-written estimates and parts catalogs as he greeted me in an office typical of the time. The “waiting area” was a dusty bus seat along the wall.

We’ve come a long way since then. Most shops’ offices and waiting areas are now more comfortable than my doctor’s or dentist’s office. But how many shop owners and operators go the extra mile to make painters, technicians, and other production staff more comfortable?

The collision repair industry is addressing the technician shortage through the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF)’s support for collision repair educational programs; educational outreach through CREF and I-CAR’s Collision Careers program; and innovative technician apprenticeships, including the Collision Engineering program I highlight in this issue.

Those apprentices are attracted to a shop environment that’s clean and modern with a welcoming shop culture. On a Monday morning, take a look around the shop with fresh eyes, or even better, partner with a friendly local shop operator to assess each other’s shop. Note what could make it a more appealing environment. Perhaps brighter lighting, a deep cleaning, and fresh paint, to start? Dustcollecting sanding systems can go a long way to benefiting technicians’ health and

keeping airborne dust to a minimum, keeping both the shop and customers’ cars cleaner. If it’s affordable and something most are accustomed to in your area, air conditioning can improve job satisfaction and even productivity.

If our industry is to compete with other trades and technical careers, we need to take a hard look at what improvements we can make to appeal to the broadest population possible.

8 April 2024 fenderbender.com

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Independent automotive repairers in Oklahoma are up in arms about a harmful bill – Senate Bill (SB) 1853 – introduced in their state’s legislature that was written by State Senator Lonnie Paxton (R-23rd district). Repairers across the country should be concerned as well.

Repair facilities suffer significant opportunity costs when vehicles sit untouched on their premises. These vehicles usurp valuable space that could be allocated towards taking in new repair jobs. Many repairers have first-hand experience dealing with an insurance company that consistently prolongs its claims decisions – sometimes for months – or mishandles payments following a completed repair.

While storage fees don’t enable repair businesses to recuperate the entire financial loss, they do help mitigate a problem inflicted upon them by a third party. Charging storage fees is more than fair, especially as a greater proportion of vehicle repairs are electric vehicles, which require more space than traditional vehicles for safe storage.

If enacted into law, SB 1853 would undermine this reasonable system. Repairers

would not be allowed to charge storage fees for vehicles that a shop has finished repairing. Total loss vehicles would only be allowed to accrue storage fees from the point at which the customer or insurer determines the vehicle to be a total loss.

The bill would also cap the daily fee for storing vehicles indoor at:

• $39/day for vehicles less than 20 ft. long

• $47/day for vehicles 20-30 ft. long

• $55/day for vehicles over 30 ft. long and under 8 ft. wide

• $70/day for vehicles over 30 ft. long and over 8 ft. wide

It would cap the daily fee for storing vehicles outdoor at:

• $24/day for vehicles less than 20 ft. long

• $32/day for vehicles 20-30 ft. long

• $39/day for vehicles over 30 ft. long and under 8 ft. wide

• $55/day for vehicles over 30 ft. long and over 8 ft. wide

10 April 2024 fenderbender.com PAST THE PAGE
@fenderbendermag fenderbender.com/linkedin fenderbender.com
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These limits would force repairers to charge storage fees at a rate well below the fair market. Labor Rate Hero estimates the average cost of daily storage within a 25 mile radius of Tulsa is $101 and $119 within a 25-mile radius of Oklahoma City.

SB 1853 would also limit billable labor for vehicle disassembly to four hours and at a rate of no more than $60/hour. Repairers committed to proper restoration preach avoiding a one size fits all approach. Many disassemblies can be completed in less than 4 hours, but sometimes circumstances require more than 4 hours. This legislation would prevent repair plans from being tailored to each unique vehicle.

The four hours at $60/hour labor restrictions would also apply to administrative tasks. The bill includes many activities within its definition of “administrative charges,” including parts identification, pre-repair diagnostic scanning, creating

a repair plan, and more. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) is especially concerned by the prospective of limits imposed on time spent on repair plans. In 2023, ASA’s Collision Operations Committee released a policy position that insurers should compensate repairers for the full labor expended for the repairer’s time spent researching OEM repair procedures because adhering to OEM repair procedures is critical to a repaired vehicle’s safety and functionality, and yet these procedures change frequently.

History demonstrates that elected officials are responsive to the concerns of the repair industry when enough stakeholders communicate their concerns. ASA has created an action page that allows residents of Oklahoma to easily send an email to their state senator and state representative that urges them to oppose SB 1853.

History also demonstrates that bills enacted in one state often become a template or inspiration for enacting similar bills in other states. ASA encourages those who do not reside in Oklahoma to share the action with repairers they know who do reside in Oklahoma to help prevent bills like SB 1853 from appearing in their own state’s legislature. They can also register for ASA’s Taking the Hill grassroots advocacy network to receive alerts on federal and state government activities that could impact their ability to run their repair facility.

FenderBender.com/news for daily updates from around the
collision repair industry.
Ben Sharp is a D.C. legislative representative for the Automotive Service Association (ASA). bsharp@reddingfirm.com


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The recent turmoil has some knock-on effects on the cost to ship parts

LAST YEAR BROUGHT notable increases in costs. From gasoline to health insurance, wallets seemed to be feeling lighter and lighter.

Now, rising costs to ship products will be borne by consumers. The UAW strike and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East will likely have long-term effects on the collision repair industry in the second half of 2024.

13 April 2024 fenderbender.com QUICK FIX

From Gaza to Your Garage

In response to Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank after the attack on October 7, 2023, the Houthi Yemeni forces began hijacking commercial ships moving through the Red Sea in November. Commercial shipping in that region makes up 12 percent of all commercial shipping.

“It seems disconnected from us here in North America, but right now 12% of global cargo moves through the Red Sea,” said Ryan Mandell, director of claims performance for Mitchell International, Inc., during a CIECA Webinar in January. He explained that companies are removing that region from their global logistics strategy.

“When you take 12% capacity offline, that is going to have a domino effect when you look at the overall supply chain health.” Some companies continue to use that route, with naval escorts, but still get attacked, according to Mandell. During the webinar, he mentioned that the Global Container Freight Index, which measures the cost of moving one shipping container anywhere in the world, has jumped 18.37% since the conflict in the Red Sea began.

Previously, the average cost to move a shipping container ranged from $1,200 to $1,400. As of January, that number is around $3,000.

The potential result of these costs, according to Mandell’s presentation, could be companies passing along the full cost to consumers and changes in what products get shipped.

After a U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes across Yemen, signs of the conflict cooling down, along with normal passage through the Red Sea, seemed more distant than ever. Mandell told FenderBender that the cost effects on shipping because of this conflict could linger within the industry throughout the year, or even longer.

“It’s hard to quantify just what that would look like.”

UAW Strikes are Done But Not Over  2023

was a year for strikes, for workers in companies like Amazon and Starbucks, as well as the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild. The strike that did not receive as much attention was the United

Auto Workers’ strike, which lasted from September 15, 2023, to October 30, 2023.

The UAW sought 40-percent wage increases, cost of living increases, a 32-hour workweek, more vacation days, a cap on the number of temporary workers, better retirement benefits, and a return of the jobs bank that guaranteed workers they would be paid most of their wages even if work wasn’t available. After 46 days, the UAW announced a tentative contract with Ford Motor Co., which called for pay increases of 25 percent, among other major concessions.

“Everything involved greater costs,” Mandell said about the concessions made at the end of the strike. “It all comes down to the OEMs’ bottom line. They have to recover those costs somehow. Typically, that means those costs are going to be passed down to the consumer. On the collision side, the parts aspect is where we’re going to see it first.”

“There’s a bit of a trickle-down effect,” he said in a phone interview with FenderBender.

“When you look at those tier-one parts suppliers, and they’re not manufacturing parts for their OEM partners, they have to decide if they’re going to keep their employees paid or are they going to put them on furlough while they’re waiting for the strike to resolve.”

From what he has seen, most tier-one suppliers decided to keep their workers employed during that time. However, he does wonder if this could cause additional cost pressure throughout the year for parts, although he said it’s too early to tell.

Although the strike lasted less than two months, its effects are still being felt. FenderBender reported that body shops in East Texas are busy after hailstorms swept through the region in early February, according to local outlets, but parts shortages are delaying some delivery times.

David Harkey, the owner of H&S Paint and Body Shop in Kilgore, Texas, told FenderBender that a representative from

14 April 2024 fenderbender.com

GM explained the delay in parts is due to the UAW strikes.  He said H&S is expecting a three-week timeline to deliver a car that needs no replacement parts and a longer wait for those that do.

Vehicles are Changing

No matter how the parts arrive or who is manufacturing them, one thing is certain: vehicles are becoming increasingly complex, especially with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

“I believe many more manufacturers are adopting a policy that ‘Anytime a vehicle is involved in an accident, certain systems will need to be calibrated.’ This will increase the frequency of those calibrations,” Mandell continued.

“More broadly, I think we will see increased adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs), perhaps not at the breakneck pace that many expected. There is still some negative consumer sentiment around these vehicles.”

A study published this year by DriveElectric states that the share of car sales for EVs in the U.S. is just under eight percent. Although this is dwarfed by other countries like Norway (88 percent) in the same metric, the U.S. still has enough market share for collision repairers, in Mandell’s opinion, to prepare to take on more EVs this year, even in markets where EVs are still scarce.

In fact, a collision technician survey by I-CAR and SCRS, in collaboration with Ducker Carlisle, shows that 90 percent of survey participants in late 2023 have had an EV or a car with ADAS in their shop.

The complexity of today’s vehicles compared to those of the past contributes to the rising cost of collision repair. When asked if the costs will eventually flatten out as car technology advances, Mandell said, “Gosh! I hope so!”

“At some point, yes, but I don’t think it’s imminent.”

As the average model year of vehicles gets newer, so does the number of ADAS calibrations that shops need to handle.

“Shops need to have a very intentional strategy around this (ADAS). Not only from a profit margin perspective, like what’s going to make more profit for me, but also from a cycle time perspective.”

Cars may be improving in many ways, but collision repairers might have something else to say about the training they receive to handle the job. The same survey also revealed that fewer than half of the nearly 840 technicians are at least somewhat satisfied with their training.

Mandell asks collision shop owners to consider: “How am I going to handle this ADAS calibration? Am I going to sublet this to a third party? If so, how do I do that as efficiently as possible, and guarantee the highest quality of work possible? Or is this something I am going to invest in for tools, training, and equipment to do the work in-house?”

15 April 2024 fenderbender.com



Held in California, this event urged collision repair leaders to be future-focused

THE INTERNATIONAL BODYSHOP Industry Symposium USA event took place in March in California. Industry representatives from large MSOs and smaller independent operations joined to talk about ideas for futureproofing the industry.

While there was some belly-aching about the work ethic of younger generations, most agreed that it’s the responsibility of the business and brand owners to take charge of shop culture and build attractive workplaces.

At the same time, workforce support organizations like the TechForce Foundation and the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) spoke about opportunities

they’ve found while working with younger technical students and the schools that teach them. It’s all about meeting students where they are and putting collision repair pathways on display as solid, sensible, and exciting opportunities.

“The industry getting involved with the schools and the students is key,” said Brandon Eckenrode, executive director of CREF.

The event also featured a panel discussion about recruitment and retention for major MSO brands, an update from the Women’s Industry Network, and a presentation about the dynamics that exist between insurers, OEMs, and collision repairers.

16 April 2024 fenderbender.com QUICK FIX
17 April 2024 fenderbender.com



Crash Champions finalized the acquisition of Performance Collision Centers and its nine locations across Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, according to a news release, on Friday, March 1, with operations transitioning immediately to Crash Champions.

Crash Champions has expanded its overall national network to more than 625 locations in 37 states across the U.S. It also adds a lineup of nine high-quality repair centers that have consistently garnered certifications from many of the nation’s top automotive manufacturers.

In an interview with FenderBender, Matt Ebert, founder and CEO of Crash Champions noted that although the same amount of work goes into making a deal for a single location or an MSO, “A good shop is a good shop, whether it’s one or several,” and Crash Champions is still interested in acquiring single locations.

“There are advantages to doing an MSO [acquisition], because typically those operating in an MSO environment would be more familiar with operating probably how we do as a big MSO. There’s a little bit of the culture fit that comes from an MSO environment, even though it’s a small one to a big one, so it’s a bit easier transition for the employees than if it were just an independent and the employee base had been there for years working for the single shop operator.”

In the release, Michael Sifen, owner of Performance Collision Centers, said he is “confident that this next chapter will provide our team and customers with exponential opportunities.”

“We are extremely proud of the legacy that Performance Collision team members have created by delivering best-in-class quality and service to our customers across the Southeast. It speaks volumes about our team to join Matt Ebert and the premier founder-led MSO in the industry.”


Conference’s Annual Scholarship Walk will be held during the 2024 WIN Annual Conference on Tuesday, May 7, at 7:00 a.m. in Newport Beach, California, according to a news release.

Participation is not limited to inperson conference attendees. Virtual attendees, as well as non-attending friends, family, colleagues, and more, are invited to support this program by organizing their own community walk or donating their registration fee - no walking required.

The fundraising walk is part of a comprehensive schedule of professional collision repair industry programming, inspiring keynote speakers, and networking and mentoring opportunities set for the Women’s Industry Network (WIN) 2024 Annual Conference. This year’s conference, themed “Dream Out Loud,” will take place from May 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach.

To register, visit thewomensindustrynetwork.site-ym. com/event/2024WINconference.


A Chicago resident was presented with a vehicle to provide her with independence and the ability to work, continue to volunteer, help others, and take care of her family, according to a news release.

This was made possible thanks to the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program, along with car donor Allstate and repair partner Gold Coast Auto Body.

The presentation was held at the Gold Coast Auto Body location on Division Street. The recipient, Lavinia Phillips, was nominated by Family Promise North Shore.

Phillips and her two daughters faced housing challenges and were able to move from a shelter to stable housing. Besides working and creating a home for her daughters, ages 11 and 13, Phillips volunteers on the local Housing & Homelessness Commission. She also became a case manager, serving homeless families in the community.

Currently, she is a parent advocate at the local school district. The donated vehicle will ensure that she is able to work, attend her daughters’ after-school

programs, and maintain her volunteer activities to better the community.

“Our team had a great time refurbishing this vehicle for Ms. Phillips,” said Dominic Martino, president and co-owner of Gold Coast Auto Body. “The best part of this experience was seeing the smile on her face.”

“I am beyond excited,” Phillips said. “I don’t know what to say other than thank you so much to everyone that made this possible.”


Among more than 88 auto insurance companies graded by collision repairers in terms of how well they work to ensure quality repairs and customer service, 25 received a “B” or higher to earn a spot on the “Honor Roll” in the 2024 CRASH Network “Insurer Report Card,” according to a news release.

A record-high 19 companies, including six of the largest U.S. auto insurers, received a grade of “C-” or lower. In fact, none of the top 10 largest, best-known auto insurers received an overall grade higher than a “C+,” with more than 50 other insurers scoring higher.

Body shops were asked to evaluate how well each insurer’s policies, attitude, and payment practices ensure quality repairs and customer service for motorists. North Carolina Farm Bureau (“A+”), Alfa Mutual (“A”), Chubb (“A-”), and Erie Insurance (“A-”) finished with the top grades among all insurers, just as they did last year.

While many of the highest-graded insurers – including Michigan Farm Bureau (“B+”), Acuity Insurance (“B+”), North Star Mutual (“B+”), and Mutual of Enumclaw (“B+”) – do not sell policies in all 50 states, consumers are likely to find one or more of the “Honor Roll” insurers offering coverage where they live.

More than 1,100 individual body shops around the country each graded as many as 30 different insurance companies in their state.

“Most consumers are unaware that they may have a dozen or more other choices in their state than the insurers whose advertising they see over and over,” said John Yoswick of CRASH

18 April 2024 fenderbender.com

Network. “The ‘Insurer Report Card’ gives the industry a way to communicate what shops see in terms of which companies are better at taking care of policyholders when they have a claim – and which ones have room for improvement. That can give consumers something else to consider as they choose an insurer.”

Shops participating in the “Insurer Report Card” said the highest-graded insurers “trust that the shop is the repair professional,” “want their customers treated right, with a quality outcome,” are “more willing to pay for quality repairs and parts,” and “are quick to respond.”

They criticized the insurers to which they gave lower grades, saying those companies “pay the lowest possible for cheaply made parts,” have “inexperienced staff,” and “are super-slow at responding to the customer or shop.”

The list of highest-graded insurers in 2024 was consistent with the prior year’s findings; among the 10 highest-graded insurers in this year’s “Insurance Report Card,” seven were in the top 10 last year as well.


Mustang customers now have an all-new way to personalize their ride with the car’s first-ever factory matte clear film, according to a Ford Motor Co. news release.

This gives the Mustang a stylish satin-like finish while also protecting the car’s paint.

The Mustang Matte Clear Film joins other personalization options, including wheel choices, interior colors, contrasting seatbelts, factory-painted brake calipers, and bold and exciting paint colors.

The Matte Clear Film is available on all Mustang coupe models (EcoBoost, GT, and Dark Horse) and in all factory paint colors. The first deliveries are slated to begin in June. It will be available on all Mustang convertible models in the fourth quarter of 2024.

The 2024 Mustang Matte Clear Film is a product of PPG. It’s designed to withstand harsh detergents used at hand or touchless car washes, as well as road salt, bird droppings, bug splatter, and asphalt residue.

It’s now available to order and priced at $5,995.

This new option comes with the same 3-year/36,000-mile factory warranty that applies to all 2024 Mustang cars.

Customers who order the Mustang Matte Clear Film for the Mustang Dark Horse will not receive the standard Hood Accent Stripe or be able to select the Painted Racing Stripe. The Matte Clear Film is not available with the GT California Special package, or the optional graphics packages on the Mustang EcoBoost and GT.


Car ADAS Solutions announced that Nate Thomsen joined the company as manager of integrations and support.

In his new role, Thomsen will help open new calibration centers and support licensees to ensure their success. This includes providing facility certification, on-site technician development, an overview of shop setup, and sharing calibration knowledge through body shop visits.

“We are so excited to bring another proven industry leader to our team as we continue to grow our footprint,” said Greg Peeters, CEO of Car ADAS Solutions. “In addition to his many accomplishments, Nate is a great guy, fitting into our team’s chemistry perfectly.”

“Calibration is becoming more important each day as vehicle systems advance to keep drivers safe,” said Thomsen. “I’m looking forward to being part of an industry that’s new and evolving.”

Based out of Seattle, Washington, Thomsen has more than 25 years of experience in the collision repair industry. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 19941997, he was hired as a car detailer in 1998 and then worked for a small MSO in Seattle. Since then, he has held numerous positions in the industry, including regional vice president of operations for a large MSO, where he met Peeters.

Thomsen also worked with COO Kevin Caruso, whom he has known for 25 years.

As the manager of integrations and support, Thomsen said it will be rewarding to be a mentor and leader helping support

Car ADAS Solutions’ licensees and working with the CAR ADAS team.


The auto glass repair chains of Driven Brands have been rebranded as Auto Glass Now, according to a news release.

Over the past year, Auto Glass Now has been rebranding all the acquired locations under the Auto Glass Now name, refreshing the locations with bright, welcoming customer service lobbies, and equipping them with the latest tools.

The locations were previously  known as All-Star Glass, Horizon Auto Glass, A1 Auto Glass, Auto Glass Fitters, and Discount Auto Glass.

Each Auto Glass Now location boasts a team of highly trained experts specializing in auto glass repair, replacement, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) calibration.

“Drivers desire a national brand they can trust for high-quality, reliable auto glass repair, no matter where they travel, along with a national warranty to protect their repairs,” said Nick Ouimet, president of Auto Glass Now. “Now, whether they relocate to a new city, embark on a road trip, or encounter an incident on their daily commute, they can rely on having an Auto Glass Now location or mobile service nearby to repair their damage and replace their windshield.”

“Auto Glass Now continues to enhance our customer experience by making auto glass servicing increasingly fast, reliable, and convenient,” Ouimet added. “We’re proud to continue the legacy of our local experts in building a respected nationwide brand. Through our national network, Auto Glass Now delivers the kind of scale and efficiency that only a nationwide company can offer.”


The California Autobody Association (CAA) announced a new partnership with Collision Automotive Repair Services, Inc. (CARS), which gives CAA members cost saving discounts on dozens of

19 April 2024 fenderbender.com

automotive industry products and services, according to a news release.

CARS Cooperative provides collision repair shops with complimentary perks such as cash back rewards and exclusive CAA member savings for materials and supplies.

CAA member shops are now part of CARS Connection Plus, which offers these perks.

Members can decide if they want to take advantage of these benefits. That means there’s no pressure to change current supplier relationships or get locked into a contract.


Classic Collision has reached 52 locations in its Florida market after adding three more locations in mid-February, according to a news release.

Classic Collision acquired Empire Auto Body in Pompano Beach, Factory Certified Collision in Oakland Park, and Southeast Collision Center in Boca Raton. All of these are in the Greater Ft. Lauderdale area.

“Our company vision was to help people get back to their routine and lives with ease of mind, and I know the Classic Family will uphold that commitment to our customers. We look forward to being part of Classic’s continual growth in Florida,” said Anthony Morello, former owner of the three recently acquired locations.

“We are thrilled to welcome all three locations to the Classic Family, expanding our Florida market to 52 locations. We recognize their high customer service standards and look forward to furthering that in our Florida market,” said Toan Nguyen, the CEO of Classic Collision. “We are just beginning our 2024 aggressive growth plan and look forward to sharing those future announcements as they unfold.”

Just last month, Classic Collision also announced the addition of three locations in Marianna and Panama City Beach in Florida.



MITCHELL'S PLUGGED-IN REPORT (mitchell.com) reveals claims frequency continues to rise for electric vehicles (EVs), with 1.97% in the United States, an increase of more than 40% over the previous year. Claims for repairable EVs has nearly quadrupled compared to 2020.

EVs, with lightweight materials and more features such as ADAS, also continued with more severity than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. For 2023, EVs had an average repairable severity of $6,018 — down about 5% from the previous year — while ICE automobiles had a repairable severity of $4,696, a difference of $1,322 but an increase of 3% over 2022.

These figures are from Mitchell's Plugged-in report.

21 April 2024 fenderbender.com
Electric Vehicle Frequency of Repairable Claims Volume 2023: 1.97% 2022: 1.40% 2021: 0.80% 2020: 0.50% BLACKCAT / E+ / GETTY IMAGES


Stepping into the Carriage Shoppe might make you feel as if you’ve just stepped out of a modified DeLorean from the beloved '80s Sci-Fi movie. This collision repair center carries a lot of history, with American antiques from the early to mid20th century displayed across the lobby.

The shop first opened in 1978 and was relocated to its current address in 1993. The owners who had occupied the building until 1993 sold classic American antiques and left some of their inventory to the Carriage Shoppe when they took it over.

In the lobby, you’ll find items like an old Coca-Cola box, a classic firefighter hat, an old safe, and the front desk topped with cash registers that look so


classic you’d think you were in an old Clint Eastwood western. All of these look even more anachronistic when you sit down on one of the conventional lobby chairs or pick up something to read from the modern-style coffee table.


The shop was started by Steve and Lynn Mecham who, after 40+ years of running the shop, decided to sell it to Warren Yoder, the CEO of Yoder Family of Companies, in August 2022.

One of the benefits from Yoder, as shared by Eric Burton, the general manager for Carriage Shoppe, is that they aren’t strict on the specific equipment collision repairers use within their collision centers.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a pattern to the type of brands you see in the shop. Carriage Shoppe has three different Car-O-Liner frame benches (one of which is exclusive to aluminum).

They also have an alignment rack and three lifts. Many of the lifts were added after a space addition to handle more vehicles. They’re keen to use Pro Spot for welding.


“As MSOs continue to grow and become larger and larger, we kind of believe that the customer service aspect has been lost,” Burton said.

“Being in an accident is never something fun or exciting to go through. Or hailstorms and theft recoveries. We want them to feel confident and feel good that we’re going to do right by them.”

Burton added that Carriage Shoppe, before and after its acquisition, has always separated itself from other shops by being customer-focused and letting the repairs speak for themselves.

They’re friendly and welcoming to not only people but even pets. Dog toys and biscuits are available to any four-legged guests.

“We’re in the people business; we just happen to fix cars.”

23 April 2024 fenderbender.com

What’s your marketing strategy?

With proper marketing ‘activities,’ we can leave MORE dollars in our customers’ pockets and take LESS of them to pay outside vendors

I was in a 20-group meeting recently with about 50 top-performing shops from across the country. We surveyed the room to see how far each was booked out. A couple could take cars that same day, one was out six months, and the group average was around three weeks. Obviously, this is a different time than a year ago, when most shops were out three to four months. Customer demand for collision repair is obviously cyclical.

Our industry standard over the years for a marketing budget has hovered around 3-6% of gross sales.  These marketing dollars are used for many things like radio, tv, streaming, billboards, Facebook, Google, restaurant placemats, CSI, golf scorecards, bowling alleys, geofencing, loaner cars etc. to infinity.

Let’s start by defining marketing: “Activities a company undertakes to promote the buying or selling of a product or service.” The key word here is, “Activities.” Years back, one of my great mentors who owned many shops explained marketing to me this way: “Please get this, Greg, marketing is EVERYTHING we do!” He elaborated that marketing is not just an expense line in our profit & loss statement. Marketing is MANY things.

1. Does our front office smell nice?

2. Is it female-friendly?

3. When a customer calls our shop, does the person answering do it with a smile or are they gruff with a snarl and say, “BODY SHOP”?

4. Do we have a scheduled drop-off process, or were they told to just drop-off Monday a.m., only to show up at 8:15 a.m. and find four other parties dropping off at the same time with only one available staff member?

5. Let’s say the customer stops in to get something out of their vehicle that’s in production. Are they escorted back to their car only to find body filler dust inside and out, parts on their seats, acid music blaring and employees who would pass as Charles Manson’s children?

6. Are customers asked in the beginning, “What is most important to you about our repairing of your vehicle?’  If you think this is a dumb question, then start asking it, and you’ll find that most customers have that one thing.  Examples: “Could you please buff my kid’s bicycle mark?” or “I hope my interior doesn’t stink like paint.” How about this one when a daughter drops off her mother’s car: “Please contact only me for updates, as my mother is not well and worries a lot.”

The average new car loan is $40,000+ with a $725 monthly payment. Only an insane person would wake up and think, “You know what? I am going to wreck my car today!” In 2023 within two months’ time living in Indiana, I hit two deer. In the first accident, we were headed to the airport for our family vacation, and for the second, I was driving myself to the emergency room. Both vehicles were non-drives. Trust me, there is not one thing fun about a car accident!  Every customer just wants this life interruption over with and their lives (including mine) back to normal ASAP. The trouble is some shops resemble the old song “Hotel California:” cars come in, but they can never leave. The liable insurer owes for every single thing we do to correctly repair a car and we must have highly skilled writers/ negotiators. The dilemma is we also have a vehicle owner who is praying this nightmare will just be over soon and their car back home in their garage. Understanding our profit and loss statement and hitting our “Break-even” earlier in the month can be a solution to these car hostage situations with insurers. Running a successful collision facility doesn’t take complex calculus equations but just basic math. Every car we repair after hitting our monthly break-even has no overhead expense and can be repaired at a discount. Imagine the customer getting their car home sooner, our shop still maintaining high quality AND business profitability. Some think this is a double standard, as some insurers are getting off the hook. With this strategy, those with in-depth knowledge of their P and L understand we can choose to “Lose the battle to win the war.”

The more we spend on marketing, the higher the customer out-of-pocket expense. It turns into a “vicious cycle.”  With proper marketing “activities,” we can leave MORE dollars in our customers’ pockets and take LESS of them to pay outside marketing vendors. There are highly profitable shops — and many of them non-DRP — who spend ONLY 1-2% of their gross sales on marketing while growing double digits year after year. These types of shops understand the definition of marketing. When customers leave our shops as raving fans, we will, over time, dominate our market. This is as certain as the sun rises. So, back to the beginning, what’s your marketing strategy?


Greg Lobsiger has owned Loren’s Body Shop in Bluffton, Indiana, for over 23 years. He has been a member of Mike Anderson’s groups for ten years and had extensive lean manufacturing training.

EMAIL: greg@lorensbodyshop.com

ARCHIVE: fenderbender.com/lobsiger

24 April 2024 fenderbender.com


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The ProColor PROcess is a winning formula. Find out more at procolor.com

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The Collision Engineering Program Brings Education and Industry Together in a Collaborative Partnership

26 April 2024 fenderbender.com


ISthe technician shortage simply a matter of being able to hire more staff? Or is there a greater problem of not keeping them?

The Collision Engineering program is designed not only to attract and develop entry-level technicians but to enhance their retention and advancement. Formed by the Enterprise Mobility Foundation and Ranken Technical College and introduced in 2021, the apprenticeship program bridges theory and practice. Through eight-week rotations, students can progress their learning first at college and then apply what they’ve just learned at a cooperating collision repair shop. After successful completion of the two-year program, students graduate with an associate’s degree.

“The Collision Engineering Program was developed to build a new generation of highly motivated, passionate, skilled collision repair technologists for the industry,” said Mary Mahoney, vice president of Enterprise Mobility’s replacement and leisure division, during a November Collision Industry Conference (CIC) presentation. “It’s education and industry working together in a collaborative partnership.”

The concept had first been proven at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri. The Enterprise Mobility Foundation joined John Helterbrand, department chair of Ranken’s Automotive Collision Repair program, to duplicate its successes to other colleges across the country, which number seven as of this writing and boast a 100% industryplacement rate.

The Genesis of the Program

Like many “overnight successes,” it has taken time and support for the Collision Engineering program to grow to its current state. After becoming department

chair at Ranken, Helterbrand began the transition to the apprenticeship model to attack two issues he was facing at the time: low enrollment and retention.

“It was really kind of depressing. I had students who were amazing students; they were good at everything, including communication and hands-on skills,” says Helterbrand, who is also the Collision Engineeering national program director. “Maybe they didn’t get the best grades, but they were really good people. And you find out they were just eaten up and spit out. Most of them were out of the industry within six months of graduation. They may have done something with cars, but not in collision.”

He began talking to students and employers to see if he could help solve the problem. He discovered the employers often had the impression that recent graduates, proud of their newly learned skills, felt “entitled,” and they often didn’t know how to accept them into their culture. That led to the new hires walking away from not only that shop but the entire industry.

Helterbrand credits Ranken’s president at the time, Stan Shoun, with the genesis of the project.

“He was always looking for innovation and looking to bring attention to Ranken that really showed we were a very proactive college that was willing to help industry.”

So, they started examining programs that were successful in implementing mentorships and internships.

“Apprenticeships really hit on all the problems. You’re introducing a student at his or her earliest time not knowing a whole lot to [a shop owner or operator] who was taking a chance. It was building a community within the shop and building a new culture for the future.”

As Ranken is a nonprofit, private college,

27 April 2024 fenderbender.com

Helterbrand says the wheels of progress moved more rapidly than if he were trying to make changes at a community college.

The connections brought to the table by Ranken’s advisory board enabled the new program’s success, bolstered by Shoun, who empowered Helterbrand to get the program off the ground.

“He was always asking, ‘How are we doing?’ ‘What do you need?’ ‘What can I do for you?’”

Breaking Down the Silos

For his new Ranken program structure, Helterbrand shifted the paradigm of how curriculum was delivered. The traditional “silo system” of nonstructural, structural, collision mechanical, and then refinishing needed to adapt to fit the eight-week blocks of instruction and eight weeks of being a productive technician at the apprenticeship shop.

”If you look at the apprenticeship programs of the OEMs, they start at a very basic spot, from thinking about information-gathering, safety, all the way up to the most advanced technologies toward the end. But they also have to be able to teach a student a trade, a small bit of their trade, to be successful in those first eight weeks. We didn't have any of that.”

Mechanical automotive apprenticeships have a logical spot where they can start an apprentice before progressing to the next level, Helterbrand points out.

“We don’t have lube racks. We have places where you clean cars, and that’s usually where a good student gets lost, right?”

In contrast to a “binge-and-purge” style of learning conducive to a student learning information well enough to pass a test and then forgetting much of what he or she learned, skills-training is best done in smaller chunks, Helterbrand notes.

“If you had somebody who started off in our industry in refinishing, they would go from the basics of refinishing to the mastery of matching and blending a tri-coat color. Well, by the time they got to their last semester, they had never touched refinishing again. Now they couldn't even use the mixing machine; they didn't know the ratios for primer.”

Walking Before They Run

Students begin their first semester learning about personal protective equipment (PPE) and the basics of refinishing, such as understanding technical data sheets and determining what grit of sandpaper to use for which operations.

“We really want our students to be able to say they've touched each one of those components within the time they're in class.”

For the second eight-week rotation, many shop operators had told Helterbrand they’d be comfortable letting the apprentice prime. So, that’s the next stage in education.

“Then it’s ‘mixology’: understanding mixability, understanding the information on the scales, and then going into priming. They wouldn’t let him paint something – maybe a little cut-in, but they wouldn’t let him do anything substantial.”

So, the following semester continues to build on that knowledge and covers base coat and clearcoat application. Buffing, a task often viewed as tedious and given to the least tenured technician, is not a task an apprentice with only eight weeks of industry training should attempt, given the risk of causing redos, Helterbrand says, so it’s taught later in the course.

“For me, I always looked at it as after you’ve been trained on painting is a better time for you to start to sand finish down and apply some kind of material that’s going to remove finish depth.”

Helterbrand says although curriculum is not typically presented in this fashion, the modularity of I-CAR curriculum was conducive to the new structure.

Duplicating Success Nationwide

The first group at Ranken launched in 2018 as the Professional Collision Technician program

and was an immediate success. About a year later, Enterprise representatives visited Ranken.

“Our president was very good friends with Enterprise; they did a lot of good things together. They’re great supporters of the college. I didn't realize the technician shortage had such a global impact. I knew about it, but I was concerned about Saint Louis.”

Enterprise took a keen interest. More meetings followed.

“One thing let to another, and the next thing I know, the boss is asking, ‘So, what do you think about a nationwide program?’”

Helterbrand started gathering momentum in May 2019 in talks with prospective schools. But bringing Ranken’s success to other programs across the country was not like opening a franchise restaurant such as McDonald’s, where Ranken’s program would be simply duplicated there.

“It was really getting people to understand a rotational education, that you can do that and how it's sustainable,” he says. “The biggest convincing we had to do was to break down the nonstructural, the structural, and the refinishing. The students need to taste a little of that every semester so they don't forget it and they can actually build upon it.”

With the new name of Collision Engineering, the pilot program rolled out in January 2021.

“I think it really sets a standard to the next level. And the whole idea is the next level in the technician, the next level in high school education, the next level of college education. I think it also means pathways, because no engineer goes into engineering school without a good pathway of how to get there.”

Each of the schools develops its own advisory council to help guide the program, which ensures the training models are what the industry is looking for and is keeping pace with vehicle technology.

Education is Changing

The COVID-19 pandemic forced industry to be receptive to new delivery methods for training, Helterbrand says.

“Education's changing quickly. People may not see it because they're in the weeds at their college. But if you step away like I have for four years…Oh, my God. It’s a big-time change and it’s going to take over. If you look at what a lot in the background is going on, all these schools are wanting internships; they want apprenticeship

28 April 2024 fenderbender.com

programs. They want more involvement in their industry to be part of what they're doing. There are people who are putting a lot of money behind this to make this happen.”

He set out to meet with other college program leads and instructors. Not all understood Helterbrand’s intent with the program, fearing it would require “putting a Ranken in here” instead of giving the other colleges the tools and coaching they need to offer a similar program. But it resonated with those who were looking for such a program but didn’t know where to turn.

“We learned there are a lot of instructors out there who have a passion just like me. We believe we can do better for the student. If you’ve got a big enough belief system in that instructor, then good things happen, and that's how we got started; it was a be -

lief that we could make something happen, and we did. And now, four years into this, it continues to grow. We’ve spoken to schools and employers from overseas here and everywhere. It's about people doing the right things in their community, and most of these people already knew what they needed: They needed some support. They needed people who thought like them.”

Although he’d worked with Enterprise on a number of projects over the years at Ranken, he was pleased to learn how much it supports sustaining the community.

“And what we're trying to do is sustain our industry within the community,” he says. “We rely on them in so many ways. To have them on board helped us get other grants, such as through ECMC [Foundation], Ford Motor Company, and others.”

Coordinating with Industry

Collision Engineering National Workforce Development Director Shelly Jones says successful implementation requires understanding other schools’ needs.

“We’ll set up meetings and we'll help the college speak to their community If they need that,” she says. “We identify what their needs and challenges are, and then we develop a plan to get them where they want to go. If the college has the passion to be a partner and to incorporate this apprenticeship and internship, then we are there to make sure that whatever their needs are for their situation, that's what we're going to address and get them where they need to be.”

The program is available and adaptable to any shop owner or operator, Jones says.

“Anybody who wants to get involved and be a part of this journey, we want to talk with

29 April 2024 fenderbender.com
Bridging Theory and Practice Students are taught first at college and then apply what they’ve just learned at a cooperating collision repair shop.

them. Any shop can be a good fit for this. I think this is a great opportunity to build a pipeline. The shop just has to have that openness and willingness to learn something different if they haven't participated in an apprenticeship or an internship program before.”

To be successful, she says, the partnership between the shop and the college they work with is essential, including maintaining communication.

“And everything else will fall in line.”

Tuition Assistance, Tool Kits, Paid Apprenticeships, and Certifications

There is no cost for the Collision Engineering Program to either the shop or the college. The program does require the participating shop to pay apprentices the area minimum wage or higher. For each successfully complete work rotation during their first year in the program, students receive a $500 stipend, up to a total of $1,500. Students also receive a starter tool kit before their first work rotation at no cost. Collision Engineering instructors and students have designed the kit to include

all tools needed for their apprenticeship, and upon completion, the kits are the students’ to keep. They also earn ASE certifications in two years that otherwise typically take an entrylevel technician six years.

‘Helping Make Students Great Technicians & Employers Greater’

Helterbrand, who says he entered the collision repair industry in 1985 as a “dust bunny bodyman” and experienced the name change to “technician” as outside training such as ICAR became prevalent, started teaching night school at Ranken 30 years ago before joining the staff full-time 19 years ago.

“I just got in this business to help students become great technicians,” he says. “But now, our team here is working so hard to make not just the students great, but the employers greater. These students of tomorrow are different students, not bad. You have to understand how they got there. You’ve got to meet them where they are, and if you don't understand that, you're probably not meeting your customers where they are, either.”

Increasing retention is a focus of the program, Jones says.

“Whether they're already employed as an entry-level employee at a collision shop, they’re upskilling, or they come off the street, they have chosen this as a career. We need to give them the best possible entry into this career to stick with it and make a long career out of it.”

That means providing a welcoming shop culture and a robust hands-on experience being taught the proper techniques and equipment, she says.

“We’re always thinking about the student in what we do. You have to put your empathetic hat on for all the people who are involved. And John talks about it all the time, meeting them where they are and giving them the tools to be successful. We really do step in to assist and guide to make sure they have those tools. And we see the success stories and you see that the colleges are proud of it. We're proud of it. The employers are proud of it. The momentum is growing, and it's just a lot of fun to be part of this.”

30 April 2024 fenderbender.com
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32 April 2024 The MSO Report

Crash Course In Success

33 April 2024 The MSO Report
Courtesy of Cole’s Collision Cole's Collision's Blueprint for MSO Success

the highly competitive world of collision repair, it takes a lot of strategic vision and dedication to open and maintain a shop successfully. To maintain and expand your auto collision repair shop into a multi-shop operation (MSO), there must be strong leadership and management with meticulous attention to detail. As Cole's Collision Centers in upstate New York reached eight locations this year, General Manager Josh Jewett has developed these necessary skills over 17 years to open newly acquired locations and manage a profitable repair shop chain.

Reflecting on his years as general manager, Jewett has found that most of his success comes from knowing how to build teams properly, incorporate new colleagues, and standardize work when adding new locations. But, he didn't go into his first acquisition as general manager knowing what steps to take. Instead, he learned through experience what formula worked for him and the company.

“The first acquisition was really when I was able to hone my skills for what's necessary to be a general manager and oversee multiple locations,” Jewett said.

Jewett met owner John Cole years ago at a dealership while working under him as a technician, and they formed a close relationship. In 2007, Cole’s Collision Centers opened in Colonie, New York, and Jewett joined the new operation.

"At the time, I was 23, and I took a little bit of risk myself, not knowing if the shop was going to be successful, but we continue to be together to this day," Jewett said.

In the beginning, the shop had a staff of two doing everything from bodywork, writing estimates, maintaining the facility, and doing the detailing. As the business began to grow, they were able to hire more people.

"We originally started with hiring a body tech, and then the body tech and I mainly did everything in the shop," Jewett said. "Cole maintained the front end, doing estimates and trying to get business in the door while I was in the shop with the technicians and the painter for probably the first year and a half doing hands-on work. Eventually, we grew the business enough to where I could replace myself in the shop, and then I went into the office permanently as the manager in 2008."

In 2010, Cole purchased two shops north of the original location, turning the company into an MSO, and placed Jewett as manager of the second location.

“We had just acquired two facilities,” Jewett said. “I stayed in one shop, and Cole went to manage the other one. The first six months I was there, I had to home in on standardization, change the perception of what quality was among the staff, and ultimately set the standard for how we did things."

Jewett’s talent for efficiency started to pay off. Jewett discovered that employees used products from multiple companies to repair vehicles. To make ordering easier and to improve product quality, he switched all the shop’s products over to the same companies they were using at the first location. In addition to standardizing products, Jewett also established standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure safety and that the quality of work was held to the highest standards across all shops.

After transforming the second and third Cole’s Collision into profitable shops, Jewett and Cole successfully opened four more from 2012 to 2022, applying the same standardization procedures, and in 2023, they purchased the property for an eighth location. Throughout his 16 years of experience at the company, Jewett has found that nurturing relationships,

SOPs ensure safety and quality

Josh Jewett implemented standard operating procedures in the shops, down to standardizing the products used.

34 April 2024 The MSO Report

Finance equipment without wrecking your cash flow.

get up to speed with what huntington can offer your collision repair shop.

It takes a driven individual with a particular skillset to run this type of business. When the time comes for new equipment, we have finance experts for the collision repair industry that can map out the best way to keep your business on track.

We work with you to help finance:

• Welding equipment

• Paint/spray booths

• Alignment racks

• Lift racks

• Frame measuring systems

• Wheel balancers and alignment systems

for more information, contact:




®, Huntington® and ⬢ Huntington® are federally registered service marks of Huntington Bancshares Incorporated.

, an 2024 Huntingto Pa

© 2024 Huntington Bancshares Incorporated.

incorporating standardization, and emphasizing quality have been the key to helping Cole’s Collision remain a profitable and reputable MSO auto collision repair chain when opening a new location.

Nurturing Trust Through Transparency

Acquiring a shop and the team within can lead to a clash in personalities and practices. Jewett is always looking to maintain and grow relationships, and he has different strategies for opening a brand-new shop than opening an acquired shop.

“When you open up a brand-new shop, you plant people in that shop who have already worked for you, and those employees already know the exact methods on how you conduct business, so it’s very easy,” Jewett said. “The only thing that's not easy is ensuring you have enough work to keep everyone occupied and busy in the beginning. Whereas with an acquisition, you must change culture. You must ultimately shift mindset and show them how you expect to have procedures performed.”

With an acquisition, it is crucial to establish positive relationships with employees gained from the acquisition. This is so changes can be wrought without upsetting the culture.

“You ultimately have to start a relationship, and a lot of that comes from trust, so you have to be open with the employees and show them the ways that you do things, and if they second-guess, I ask that they give me a chance to prove that the way we do it is a better way,” Jewett said.

Elevating Standards and Quality

Once trust is established, standardizing products and instituting work-quality procedures are the first steps for Jewett because they help him to slowly start standardizing the shop without upsetting the culture.

“We focus on the products that were being used at the acquired shops and switch all the paint products to the same paint company, then we switch the sandpapers, sealers, glues, etc. so that the painters and technicians use the same quality products across the board,” Jewett said.

After standardizing products, it is essential to implement the SOPs used at the other locations to ensure that the work is being upheld to the same caliber. A great way that Jewett helps ease a shop into new SOPs is by bringing employees from other shops. In order to do that, he bulks up his existing locations with employees pre-sale so that when the time comes he can quickly transfer some to the new location.

“Through every expansion, we usually take two technicians, one painter, or

somebody writing estimates and start a location with three or four people and kind of grow it from there,” Jewett said.

Another way that Jewett ensures quality performance among his employees is by having SOPs written out and posted on a wall within all shop locations.

“When we have someone coming in that's new, we usually sit down and go through our SOPs but then, if there's any questions, they can always reference it in the shop,” Jewett said. “Our SOPs are something we're always updating, but the expectations remain the same. We have had to modify a few SOPs because there are so many position statements and requirements for specific welded panels, so some of that has been tweaked over the years. There are also certain corrosion protection applications that we expect in certain phases, so it's all laid out on poster board in the shop for anyone to see.”

Preserving Excellence

As the current president, Jewett finds that the key to success is ensuring that his employees maintain the high standards of Cole's Collision by boosting newly opened shops, helping them to find their footing, and continuing to communicate and ensure that they maintain standards as the company grows.

“I think we're going to carry on the expansion as long as we can,” Jewett said. “If you look at our timeline, we're roughly doing one opening or acquisition every two or three years. To me, that works. It's something that for us, is comfortable, it's not chaotic, and we're doing it the right way, so that way, when we open, we're not scrambling, we're already planted in how we do things and successful immediately."

Maintaining and Growing Relationships

36 April 2024 The MSO Report
Josh Jewett has different strategies for staffing in opening a new shop than acquiring one.
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Valuations for MSOs differ from single shops. Learn how growing to three locations can generate multiples of value.

OWNERS OF SMALL MSOS and single shops are increasingly recognizing the most effective way to create more value in their businesses is to scale up - whether from a single shop into an MSO or from a small MSO into a larger MSO. It’s a proven playbook that hundreds of operators have executed over the last two decades. In this article we will review key industry segments and their growth trajectories. We’ll discuss how valuations for MSOs differ from single shops – and why. Then we’ll demonstrate with a more detailed example how the growth from

a single shop to three shops generates multiples of value.

The Collision Repair Industry is Consolidating Everywhere

The collision repair industry has been consolidating for two decades. While most collision repair shops (80% of total shops) are single locations, the fastest growing segments of the industry are large consolidators (12%) and Independent MSOs (8%).

Focus Advisors has created a proprietary database that tracks all the MSOs and single shops


throughout the country and categorized them into the “MSO Fish Scale.” Despite the headlines squarely focusing on the Big Five (the “Whales”) and the private equity-backed platforms (the “Sharks”) getting bigger and acquiring more shops, the data show that there are more than 800 independent MSOs (the “Big Fish, “Medium Fish,” and “Ambitious Fish”) that are scaling up and increasing wealth for their owners.

While the “Big Five” Consolidators – Caliber, Gerber, Crash Champions, Joe Hudson’s, and Classic Collision garner most of the publicity because of their relentless acquisitions and greenfield developments -- independent MSOs are growing at similar rates, mostly under the radar.

These large consolidators with the deepest pockets have been acquiring single shops and MSOs at a relentless pace. In August 2018, for example, the Big Five had a combined total of 1,421 shops. By the end of 2023, the Big Five had more than doubled their shop counts to 3,517 shops. They collectively added over 2,000 shops in just five years, mostly through acquisitions.

In 2023, more than 550 shops were acquired or developed by consolidators and independent MSOs. Surprisingly, about a third of this total were single shops growing to two-shop MSOs. Another third were acquisitions by existing independent MSOs enlarging their scale, and the remaining 38% were acquisitions or developments by the largest consolidators.

MSOs Command Higher Valuation Multiples than Single Shops

When someone is starting a business, or perhaps taking it over from an earlier generation,

it’s probably not their first instinct to think about selling it one day. Whether an owner is planning to sell the business this year or a generation from now, it’s important to have an ongoing awareness of the business’ enterprise value. So, understanding how lenders or acquirers value a business is critical to planning its growth that will determine its current and future value.

Clearly, there are advantages to becoming an MSO. That’s explained by economies of scale. Larger MSOs gain an edge because they negotiate significantly better discounts on parts and paint, they can benefit from centralized software and corporate processes, they can hire talented regional managers, they have strong DRP relationships, and they have greater name recognition. All of these are reflected in their financial performance; larger MSOs benefit from higher revenues, better gross profit margins, a lower expense ratio, and ultimately, greater EBITDA.

EBITDA is the cash generated by a business before paying taxes and interest on loans or reinvesting in growing the business. And it’s that EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) that truly turns on the value creation for a collision business.

So how is it that EBITDA drives value creation? Whether that value is being considered by a lender like a bank or an acquirer, they both look at its value in the marketplace. Even though a lender is more concerned about the likelihood of their loan being repaid, they still focus on the firm’s EBITDA.

Likewise, acquirers evaluate the value of a business – whether their own or a potential

40 April 2024 The MSO Project Report

acquisition – as a multiple of EBITDA. EBITDA helps them assess the fundamental earning potential of an acquisition. They then layer in their own unique cost structure, tax rates, and depreciation schedule. Acquirers arrive at the number they’re willing to offer by multiplying the business’s existing EBITDA by a certain multiple. And if you are the acquirer, you will pay attention to the same factors!

Acquisition multiples are influenced by several factors: the larger economy, the business’ market and physical location, its number of techs or certifications, the quality of its facilities, etc. Regardless of what exact multiple of EBITDA is used, the most important fact is that every dollar of EBITDA the business generates can create additional business value on the back end.

From the Focus Advisors database of actual transaction values, it’s clear that MSOs are valued at higher EBITDA multiples than single shops. That means even if a single shop and an MSO are generating the same revenue and EBITDA, the MSO will be valued more highly because buyers would offer a higher EBITDA multiple.

Why is this? Because it is more efficient for acquirers to pursue a larger business with more locations, stronger in-place management and systems versus acquiring several single add-ons. We’ve heard repeatedly from consolidators they’ll pay a premium for an MSO because from their point of view, a single shop often operates according to the owner’s individual philosophies, whereas creating an MSO forces owners to develop more standardized processes and systems. Buyers can’t replicate the success of an in-

dividual owner’s process, but they can more easily adapt the systems and processes of an MSO to their larger platform.

A Growth Comparison

But it is also the case that MSOs – just given their size and enhanced profitability – also tend to have higher EBITDA in the first place. So, they get the dual benefit of higher EBITDA combined with higher EBITDA multiples. The value creation mechanism looks something like this:

To illustrate this point, let’s say you are a strong operator with a single $3 million shop and are confident you can expand your footprint and build another $3 million of revenue in a new shop. This is much easier said than done, of course. It entails adding debt, risk, and personnel challenges, to name just a few. Expanding from one to three shops is even more challenging. But observe how much value is created when this expansion is completed.

With the larger footprint, you are able to grow revenues substantially (200%). But with scale, the business itself should become more profitable. That’s because an MSO can command better parts discounts, labor rates, paint discounts, and can spread overhead expenses across more revenue. How is this so? Buying parts at 25% off instead of 22%, paint discounts increasing to 60% from 50%, and spreading out the management costs, training, rent factors, insurance, marketing and a host of other small costs all add up to reduced overhead per shop.

In this example, we assumed that a $3 million single shop might generate a 9% EBITDA margin, whereas a medium-sized 3 shop MSO might generate closer to 14%.

41 April 2024 The MSO Project Report

But look at the end of this chain. The major value creation for the market value of a business takes place through the higher EBITDA valuation multiples. A single shop might be valued at 3X to 3.5X EBITDA, whereas a medium MSO would realize a multiple closer to 5X to 5.5X. In other words, by increasing revenues by 200% (from $3 M to $9 M), an owner could ultimately grow the value of the business by around 633%. Many of our clients have been able to recognize this, implement a growth strategy, and achieve successful exits with similar results.

The Leap from a Single-Shop to an MSO

Collision repair is a very operationally intensive business. It’s hard enough to keep a single shop operating consistently well. But as an owner, if you are confident that you have optimized the operations of that first shop, it might be time to try to make the leap to another location. Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you embark on your growth plan: strategy:  There are numerous examples of collision repair entrepreneurs who have already gone down this path. These entrepreneurs each did two things: first, they locked down the performance in their first shop before they expanded further. And second, they only expanded once they had a growth playbook. The successful growth playbook was a multi-year strategy to adding shops to their footprint and it incorporated answers to the questions laid out above. As they executed on that plan, they accessed sufficient capital to expand, they trained up their managers, and they made sure their customers, whether DRPs, dealers, or the general public, appreciated their increased scale, professionalism and capabilities.

Some have grown their MSOs and had successful exits, while many are still in business, continue to grow, and have no nearterm plans for selling. What both groups fully understand is how larger-scale MSOs

create outsized gains in their business’ value. Through growing their MSO, they both grew their EBITDA, but also grew their EBITDA multiple in the eyes of potential buyers.

In conclusion, scale is the key factor in creating a higher value for the business. We have seen dozens of such success stories in our time advising owners on growth strategies or representing them in an exit. No story is the same; each one of these success stories has had a unique entrepreneur with a unique plan.

About Focus Advisors:   Focus Advisors (www.focusadvisors. com), M&A advisory firm to the collision industry, partners with independent MSOs between $10-100M in annual revenue, helping owners achieve maximum value through strategic growth and exits. Unlike traditional business brokers or large investment banks, Focus Advisors specializes exclusively in collision repair — giving owners unparalleled insight into value, interest, and opportunity timing. With over 25 years in the industry, Managing Director David Roberts has led more than 40 transactions totaling over $500 million in transaction value and more than 325 collision repair shops, including Painters Collision Centers, Pride Auto Body, Quanz Auto Body, Mills Body Shops, and Master Collision Group.

Investment Banking Services and Securities offered through Independent Investment Bankers Corp. a broker-dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Focus Advisors is not affiliated with Independent Investment Bankers Corp.

42 April 2024 The MSO Project Report
the collision repair industry’s leading M&A
Since joining Focus two years ago, she’s had the privilege of working with
of collision repair entrepreneurs in the US and
as they assess their growth or exit options.
Madeleine Roberts Rich is a Senior Associate at Focus Advisors Automotive M&A,

Beating them to the punch

How do we regulate ADAS repairs before the government does?

More and more, MSOs are getting into the business of ADAS repair. I was on a panel at the most recent MSO Symposium with some people representing consolidators and other MSOs, all of which started a separate ADAS repair business operating under a different name. All indicated a strong inclination to perform proper repairs according to vehicle manufacturer repair procedures. Is that really the case with most MSOs and the rest of the industry? I fear that it is not. We see examples of people performing calibrations in parking lots, on non-level floors, and in areas with a lot of background and lighting contamination.

More Than Half of ADAS Calibrations Require Comebacks

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) surveyed nearly 3,000 drivers about their repair experiences on cars with ADAS and found that while most consumers never had their assistance systems repaired, nearly 500 consumers who did typically had to have these systems repaired more than once. The worst offenders were blind-spot monitoring systems, with a respective 59% and 62% of owners who had their systems repaired making multiple trips to the repair shop specifically for recalibration. Naturally, these multi-visit percentages grew when factoring in repairs that involved crash damage and windshield replacement, indicating that it can be difficult to properly recalibrate these advanced systems following a crash. Those with crash-induced repairs were most likely to have persistent problems, while those who never had the systems recalibrated typically reported no problems. Notably, those who had repairs but never had the systems recalibrated were significantly less likely to encounter recurring problems as compared to those who repaired and recalibrated, signaling that some repaired but uncalibrated vehicles could falsely appear as functional. Additionally, the study found that routine, unrelated mechanical repairs sometimes led to problems with the ADAS systems, in turn requiring additional trips to the shop.

The OEM Provides the Standard. Who's Enforcing it?

Many of us in the industry are very concerned about this and feel there should be some sort of oversight, perhaps in the form of ADAS shop or business certification — or at least some mechanism — to verify that ADAS

repairs comply with vehicle manufacturer repair procedures and standards. Most of us feel that the manufacturer guidelines and procedures should be and ARE the standard. Especially in today’s world of vehicle complexity, it’s hard to argue that anyone except the manufacturer who designs, builds, and tests the vehicle should be the one to set the standard. From their beginning, it has been I-CAR’s policy that the vehicle manufacturer repair procedures are the industry’s standard. I believe most repairers who choose the path of proper and safe repairs want to be differentiated from those who don’t. And we want our customers to recognize that.

Our industry has traditionally been slow to respond to significant change, often taking two or more years before processes and pricing normalize. And too often, standards are watered down. When I-CAR Gold was created, the requirements were modest. Over the years, the requirements have increased. Though some argue that although a shop may be I-CAR Gold, it doesn’t necessarily prove that it has the proper equipment, nor that it performs proper repairs. Even many OEM collision repair certification programs were “soft” when they first started appearing, in terms of levels of equipment, training, and process requirements. Thankfully, in recent years many programs are increasing the expectations and requirements. Some OEMs have stated that their goal is to verify that each repair is performed properly according to their certification requirements and repair standards.

How Do We Differentiate Those Doing the Job Properly?

There are currently many people who are dedicated to getting this new ADAS portion of our collision repair industry “right.” And we wish to see it happen promptly. There is so much at stake, especially in terms of vehicle occupant safety. Again, we see many examples of calibrations being performed improperly, especially by mobile people performing calibrations in environments that are NOT in compliance with OEM procedures. It leads to the question, “How do we differentiate those who do it right versus those who don’t?” And, “How do we make it apparent to the consumer who ultimately deals with any negative consequences?”

Plus, the insurer who may be compensating or reimbursing for ADAS work needs to know how to tell the difference.

Many entities have worked on identifying typical processes and procedures. For example, the CIECA Calibration committee developed a calibration flow chart, based on OEM repair procedures and how they are employed within a shop environment. That led to setting up methodologies of transmitting supporting documentation electronically. SAE, CIC, ADAPT, SEMA, and many other entities and conferences have had discussions or presentations on various forms of the topic. Ford and Rivian both offer an ADAS shop certification, which resides separately but next to their collision certification. Most notably, I-CAR is currently working on the topic, which could potentially lead to a form of accreditation or verification or certification.

Is Certification the Answer?

Many of those people engaged in the issue lean toward some form of shop certification. If one considers a shop, or individual, certification that is generic to all or most vehicle brands it becomes very complicated. For example, when considering the shop floor size and variance in how level it is, different vehicle manufacturers have different requirements and different ways of measuring. To develop a plan, should the most stringent specifications be used? Should there be some allowance that accommodates most, or all but the most stringent? And of course, there is the temptation to accommodate the masses and set standards that most businesses could comply with so that it doesn’t become too difficult or expensive to comply.

Many of us, including me, say that the only standard we truly have is the vehicle manufacturer repair procedures. That has been I-CAR’s standard since their beginning. And this sophisticated vehicle technology does not lend itself to allowing us to become “amateur engineers” and develop any standards short of OEM. “Sorta-certification” isn’t enough. Let’s get this one right, for the safety and good of us all.

DARRELL AMBERSON Darrell Amberson is the president of operations for LaMettry’s Collision, a 10-location multi-shop operator in the Minneapolis area. Amberson has more than 40 years of collision industry experience, is interim chairman of the Collision Industry Conference, and served as chairman for the 2021-2022 term.
EMAIL: d.amberson@frontier.com ARCHIVE: fenderbender.com/Amberson
44 April 2024 The MSO Report MSO OUTLOOK
G + R F h k m L n , K R C


Make sure no detail goes unnoticed

BEFORE DELIVERING A CAR BACK to your customer, “You have to inspect what you expect,” says Sean Guthrie, COO of OpenRoad Collision. And you have to inspect what they — the customer — expect. If you don’t, they certainly will.

That means it’s imperative that no detail goes unnoticed, and the car is returned in its pre-loss condition every single time.

“We want to inspect every car as if we’re fixing it for ourselves, or our family. Our slogan is ‘Like it never happened’…we take following through on that promise seriously. If I wouldn’t put my family in that car, then I won’t put a customer in it…and that’s the same expectation I have for all of our shops.”

A solid predelivery checklist ensures protocols are followed across the board to achieve the end result you (and the customer) both expect.


The Evolution of the Predelivery Checklist

Early on, it was as simple as, ‘Let's look at the finished product and make sure it looks good before we deliver it.’ That was fine for a small team who had been doing it for a long time. They knew what our expectations were…they knew what the customer's expectations were…and they could perform that final checklist without having anything in front of them.

As we grew, that eventually transitioned to, ‘Let's do it with the estimate in front of us.’ And that was beneficial, to make sure nothing was missed on the job itself. But there were

still other things we check above and beyond the estimate that were missing. Honking the horn. Checking fluid levels. Tail lights, turn signals, headlights. Even if we didn't fix that end of a car, we like to make sure the car is roadworthy as an extra customer courtesy. ‘Hey, we noticed your brake light was out. We replaced the bulb for you. No charge. Just wanted to make sure you’d be safe.’

We added all that stuff to our checklist in Excel, but over time it got lengthy and cumbersome. That’s when we started looking for a better solution and found FinalQC.

Technology Gives the Upper Hand

FinalQC houses our checklist inside an electronic platform and includes all the lines of the estimate plus our “extras,” and some of theirs, too. It’s a great custom checklist, but what really makes it effective for us is the built-in tracking and reporting features.

We have a two-party predelivery QC process — the first is our store manager, or a designated QC person, and the second is the service advisor, who will give the car back to the customer. As we check things off in this final step, if something fails, the system documents it and traces it back to the source. Was it the body technician? Did he forget a bolt? Or was it the paint shop? Did they miss a dirt nib?

All our technicians have their information in the system, including their cell phone, and they’re sent a text message with a picture. So, if the bumper doesn't fit, you click “no,” take a picture of the bumper, and it goes to the technician assigned to the job.

46 April 2024 The MSO Report

Now they're on the clock; the timer starts. They come up to the QC area with their tools and get it fixed. They verify the fix, the QC guy verifies it’s fixed, and it's timestamped in the program.

This allows us to track the number of failures and the time it takes to correct those failures, which was something that our manual checklist couldn't do. The data is great for accountability — it’s a very objective way to have hard conversations with technicians. It’s helped immensely with overall quality and efficiency, too. We've already seen exponential growth in QC completion and improved cycle times across our shops.

Choosing the Right Checklist

When deciding whether to go with a manual, paper checklist or a digital app or software program, consider your team’s dynamics. If you have a young team that understands technology and might be slower to accept new practices, an electronic option is great because you can collect data to see what’s getting done (or not). If it's an older, more reliable team, they might not take on technology as quickly. In that case, a manual sheet is absolutely better than nothing, and it's a great place to start. Either way, remind your team that this is not just a checklist…this is them stating that they agree something has been done.

Try to keep your checklists as concise and short as possible so each area is truly reviewed. Too many checklists can lead to expectation bias. ‘Well, the last ten cars were good in this area, and I've already done five checklists, so this checklist is fine, too,’ kind of mentality. You want to avoid that.

Equipping Your Team to Succeed

No checklist is going to completely prevent comebacks…but it certainly helps. Plus, it gives you something to scan into the file to prove to the insurance company what was done, and it offers leverage with customers in situations when you need it.

Unless you're the whole package as a shop owner — doing the body work, paint work, assembly and delivery yourself — you've got to rely on your team. And it's great to have trust in them…but verify that trust with data. When your employees have to sign off on inprocess and predelivery checklists, they’re sharing the burden of accountability.

This is something the insurance company sees, too — and they’re the ones paying everyone’s paycheck. My name might be on it as the owner, but without this partner, without these customers, none of us have a job. That means the job of proper quality checking is just as important as the guy producing the product. He's got to make it right. But you've got to verify that it’s right so we as a team can keep doing this.

Also, when a checklist is deployed, hold up your end of the bargain. Give the technician the tools to do the job properly — that's everything from proper shop lighting to shop welders to the proper clips. You can't expect a car to be repaired right if you can't see it, and you can't expect a technician to have all the right clips if you don't give them the clips to replace.

When you show your team you’re invested in fixing the car properly, you can expect them to reciprocate through adherence to QC processes like a predelivery checklist.

Inspect each car as if you’re fixing it for yourself

A solid predelivery checklist ensures protocols are followed across the board to achieve the end result you (and the customer) both expect.

48 April 2024 The MSO Report
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Production delays are unpredictable; above all, let customers know they can count on getting updates

EVEN IF YOU DESIGNED a body shop with glass walls, the work going on in plain view would still appear totally opaque to most customers, many of whom will be in need of collision repair work for the first — and perhaps only — time in their lives. They simply don’t have the highly specialized knowledge to know what they’re looking at,

50 April 2024 fenderbender.com

nor could they anticipate the myriad factors affecting their repair timeline. Here is where the glass walls wouldn’t be at all helpful — My car is just sitting there, why is nobody working on it?

Production delays are, of course, a reality in collision repair. Many are caused externally; some are not. But to the customer, it’s all one. That is why, when it comes to keeping your customers informed about delays, knowledge is power.

“Education is the perfect word,” says Brandon VanEck, COO of Car Center, which operates five shops in western Michigan. “Because most people if they’re getting their car fixed don’t understand the ins and outs. They kind of look at it as magic, like it comes in damaged and comes back out not damaged.”

Manage Expectations

In any business, customer service often comes down to managing customer expectations. And that’s not always easy, particularly when a customer has no realistic frame of reference for a timeline. Pat Crozat, COO of G&C Auto Body, which numbers 38 shops and growing across Northern California, says that setting realistic expectations with guests is a frequent reminder for his staff.

“You get customers who think that every single part for their vehicle is held in inventory at the facility,” Crozat says, “that it comes in the color of the car, and poof, their car will be done the next day. I’ve actually had customers think that.”

“Everybody wants to know how long it’s going to take,” continues VanEck. And while that is understandable from a customer perspective, it isn’t something that shops should be trying to guess at. What is important, VanEck says, is to control what you can control and promise what you can promise. Customers don’t need a lecture on the finer points of supply chain logistics, just that there are factors outside of a shop’s control that will affect the repair timeline.

“The verbiage we use is, hey, I would love to give you a time right now,” says VanEck. “Unfortunately, you never know, when I pull this bumper or fender off, what kind of bracket I’m going to need underneath there, or a sensor or whatever that is going to be on back order. And if I give you a time, then I’m

going to be lying to you, and I don’t like lying on my end, too.”

Open and Continue the Dialogue

One thing shops can, and should, make a promise on is that they will keep the customer informed. And that doesn’t need to be anything extensive. Anyone who has heard Mike Anderson speak over the last few years is familiar with the concept of the “no-update update.” Reaching out to the customer to reassure them that their repair is on track, even if there isn’t any new information to share with them, can help stave off any worries or negativity from creeping into their minds with the absence of any communication.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how a shop establishes its communications cadence. There are tools that can help, such as an automatic text messaging solution within management software such as CCC. VanEck says CCC’s automatic texting is a supplement to a manual communication process they’ve developed based around their production schedule.

The first step is to get a teardown done as soon as possible and get a sense of what the possible parts or production delays could be. Ideally the same day, that general timeline — a best-case scenario, says VanEck — is communicated to the customer with a phone call. Customers then receive updates via phone on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then a final update call on the day before expected delivery. It’s a process that has worked well for both Car Center and its customers.

“It’s a structured process,” says VanEck. “Careful not to promise too much, or really anything. The only thing that we promise is that they’re going to hear from us.”

G&C uses CCC for its estimating, but not for management. The business instead uses solutions from Nexsyis, which also has automatic communication features that shops use to stay in touch with customers. But like Car Center, it’s a supplement to an established manual process. Coincidentally, G&C shops also give Tuesday and Thursday updates because that is when the Nexsyis system automatically prompts users to make a customer contact, including via chat or text message.

Any negative news, however, always commands a phone call. Crozat cautions not to rely too much on automated communication for

this reason, always ensuring that the customer doesn’t receive any news in an undesired way.

“I see where shops fall down is they will then use this technology to communicate an issue to a guest,” says Crozat. “And that is not OK. If there’s bad information you need to let your guests know, that should always be a courtesy phone call, with emotion involved, and empathy, and sympathy. No one wants, ‘Oh, hey, guess what? Your car is late again, there’s a chat box.’ No one wants to do that. You’ve got to keep it personal on negative stuff.”

Prevention as a Cure

The best way to reduce customer angst over production delays would be to simply not have them. While that is impossible, spending some extra time doing what you can to reduce delays before they happen could pay off in a multiple of time saved later on. Crozat pointed to preordering parts, for businesses that have the cash flow, as one way to head off inefficiencies and make scheduling out jobs easier.

Crozat also gives some insight into the scheduling process, noting that while many shops like to frontload their weeks, that’s often just asking for a bottleneck. G&C does try to push smaller jobs to the start of the week, and bigger jobs toward the end of the week, but otherwise schedules work for each day. That helps space out the workflow and ensures thorough work at each step of the process to avoid missing anything.

Ultimately, there is only so much a shop can do to avoid production delays. It then just comes down to controlling what you can control: Keep the customer informed, and work through the problem as best you can. VanEck says he wants his staff to have the attitude that they will do whatever it takes to overcome a delay. He relays a story that just recently he located a part in Seattle that was the last one in dealer stock in the country.

“I called them and sweet-talked him into selling it to me,” recalls VanEck. “I said, ‘Hey, charge me over list. I don’t care,’ you know, what I mean? Like, make some money on it. And they did. And we had it overnighted and got it out. It’s more of a mindset of, hey, this isn’t going to beat us, you know?”

51 April 2024 fenderbender.com


Specialization is more necessary than ever before, and OEM certification may be the key to unlock your shop’s full potential.

THE NUMBER OF AVAILABLE CAR MODELS in the U.S. has grown significantly over the last two decades.

Across more than 40 automakers, data from research group Statista estimates there are around 300 different models of vehicles available for purchase in the U.S., and each of those models is becoming increasingly unique due to new ADAS, computers and other technologies being installed every year.

Today’s vehicles are essentially family-sized computers on wheels, and Don Putney, president of Collision Equipment Experts in Algonquin, Illinois, says gone are the days that shops will be able to fix every vehicle that comes to their door.

“Most manufacturers seem to require something different,” Putney says. “They’re asking to have repairs done with their approved equipment by vendors that are approved and certified.”

When there are this many cars in the country, your shop is going to have to specialize and choose not only which vehicles you’ll be able to work on, but also what training and tools you invest in.

The Problem

As vehicles become increasingly more reliant on high-tech components such as sensors and cameras, OEMs are becoming more stringent on how they expect repairs to be performed. Putney says he sees that as a challenge for shops since a lot of operations currently use aftermarket tools.

“Right now, a lot of shops are using aftermarket equipment or subcontractors that use aftermarket calibration equipment to calibrate these cars,” he says. “The car manufacturers are asking to have repairs done with their approved equipment by vendors that are approved and certified. They really would like

52 April 2024 fenderbender.com STRATEGY CASE STUDY

to see shops take vehicles to certified vendors for calibrations.”

Though it can be tempting to get the most bang for your buck by buying aftermarket tools that work across different vehicle makes, Putney says it may not be too long before that’s a viable service model. So, what is a shop to do instead?

The Solution

The short answer, Putney says, is specialization and certification. Though not a fix-all solution, figuring out what vehicles you work on the most and focusing on those is a good way to improve efficiency and maximize your staff’s time and energy.

“I was in a shop and their owner told me they were only going to fix vehicles from the Big 3, because those made up 80 percent of the vehicles in their area. It doesn’t make sense to buy the tools and the training for other vehicles if there’s a small market for them in your

area,” he says. “The first thing shops should do is see what cars are in their market. I don’t think that fixing everything that comes to your door is going to last much longer.”

The research doesn’t need to be all-encompassing, but taking inventory of what makes and models of vehicles you’ve had come through your shop in the last 12 to 24 months, as well as looking at all vehicles registered in your market, can help your team figure out what you should prioritize. That, in turn, will help you get started in planning what tools and training you’ll need.

“You’ll want to do a combination of a proactive and reactive approach,” Putney says. “I think you want to take a proactive approach to see what vehicles people are buying in your area, but also then look at your history. If you’re close to a Chevy dealer, maybe you should look into becoming a GM-certified shop.”

Most OEMs list what tools and qualifications are needed to become a certified collision repair shop. Depending on what the data from your research spells out, Putney says going for multiple certifications is a good idea.

Some OEMs are easier to work with and become certified with than others. Putney says American OEMs tend to be a little more lenient with their tooling requirements, focusing on the specs of the tool instead of the specific tool itself. European OEMs tend to have tighter requirements for theirs and will prescribe a specific tool that has to be used, and in some cases, they’ll even require that you purchase that tool directly from them.

“Once you get to more specialized vehicles like EVs, then domestic manufacturers will call out more specific tools,” Putney says. “But for a majority of what shops are going to fix, they’ll say ‘This is the requirement for the tool,’ but they won’t prescribe a specific tool.”

The Aftermath

The research and due diligence into certification are only half the battle. For as

important as investing in specialty equipment and the training to use it is, Putney says it won’t do any good for your shop if you don’t let people know you have that skillset and knowledge.

“You still have to market your shop well. Let people know you have the equipment to repair their vehicles,” he says. “Say that you’re certified by the OEM and that you have the proper tools and training to do that, and you can start marketing yourself through your website and social media.”

On top of that, proactively forming relationships with dealerships in your area can be a good way to boost the volume of specific types of vehicles.

“If you’re Ford-certified but you’re not seeing a lot of Fords coming into your shop, go talk to the dealerships around you to see if you can work out a partnership,” Putney says. “A lot of times, if a customer is in an accident, they’ll call their dealer and ask what shops to take the car to. If you’re not seeing that uptick in traffic, you need to market better.”

The Takeaway

It’s no secret that the automotive industry as a whole is becoming more and more reliant on technology with every passing year.

It’s important to have a plan to navigate that, and certification is a good starting point to help think about what tools and training your shop will need to succeed.

OEMs are becoming more scrutinous about how their vehicles are repaired. Putney says research shows that customers blame OEMs in some part if their vehicle isn’t fixed properly after an accident. OEMs want to protect their reputation, and Putney says that provides an opportunity for collision shops that are willing to take it.

”It’s very important to manufacturers that their cars are fixed properly so they can keep that customer loyalty,” he says, “which means it’s important for shops to have the correct tooling and training to fix those cars properly.”

53 April 2024 fenderbender.com



Confront errors as opportunities and track their frequency

IN THIS ARTICLE, we will explore some ways to apply lean principles to standardize and then to improve business processes. For most of us, the word “change” has a negative connotation. When we change, we move what is known and actions performed out of habit to a changed process which may cause us to struggle with and makes us a bit uncomfortable. And it may or may not lead to improved results.

The founder of Airstream RVs uses the quote to inspire his company’s culture and processes: “Make no changes, only IM-

PROVEMENTS!” Instead, lean practitioners prefer to seek to “improve” processes. But as lean process engineer Tahici Ohno, the primary developer of the Toyota Production System, once said, “Without a standard, there can be no improvement.”

Therefore, the journey toward improvement requires some key steps (to include defining a current state practice) to enable the lean repairer to base their improvement efforts on. When helping shops improve, we suggest following this lean continuous improvement process:

• Define the area of focus for improvement efforts – what keeps you up at night or what is limiting your ability to make a profit or to deliver the repair in a timely manner?

• To improve a shop process, you first need to define the measurements you seek to improve.

• We need to go into the repair center and discover the current state processes which need to be reviewed and improved. Find out from the staff why they perform the current state process.

54 April 2024 fenderbender.com STRATEGY

• Engage the staff and vendors relative to the process you seek to improve. The shop’s team’s engagement is crucial to buy-in and long-term sustenance of the improvements.

• Once improvements are designed, they need to be tested for effectiveness.

• Once improvements are tested, they can be formalized in written form to educate the affected team members and vendors.

• If they are proven effective, the goal is to sustain the use of these processes consistently. The improvements can be formalized in new-hire training and staff coaching sessions. Long term, those SOPs need to be audited and results reviewed and possibly refined even more.

Most of us have heard this part of the story, but the real gems inside of lean come from tracking errors and then using that data to drive efforts to improve related processes. It is when you see a repairer build a culture of measurement and error tracking that you will find a true lean repairer.

Let’s look into some of the common errors which could be tracked in a collision repair center:

• Tracking why incoming assignments don’t become estimate and later repair orders – CCC reports that this occurs only 77% of the time!

• Tracking why repairers are not using images or visual inspections to preorder parts to minimize time delays related to parts procurement. Many were taught by previous lean training that preordering was waste, but some short-term waste is acceptable to improve flow and cycle time…

• Tracking why repairers are not prescanning and diagnosing damage to further understand the extent of damage. This leads to surprise damage being discovered later in the process

• Tracking the frequency where we are NOT pre-ordering parts and transferring parts from damaged parts to allow technicians to perform 100% disassembly – this allows us to find the hidden damage we often discover later

• Tracking the reasons for writing more than one supplement – just count the number of OEM invoices and you will see this happening on the larger jobs

• Tracking body, frame and mechanical

errors – could we use a GFS REVO lamp to fully cure filler to prevent sand scratches from reappearing as coatings cross-link?

• Tracking prep and paint-related errors to minimize repainting or buffing

• Tracking reassembly and final QC errors by not fully reviewing the estimate to ensure all items identified are repaired

• And many more…

A common error is buffing repairs after paint. This should only be necessary with luxury vehicles, where orange peel is not the OEM standard. Therefore, it is valuable to track the frequency of buffing and attempt to get to the root cause of why contaminants get into paint. Often, these things can be tracked back to the following processes:

• Poor painter PPE which is free of dust or other contaminants falling in the paint

• Prepping in the booth and not in the staging area

• Not using an anti-static device after tacking the surface to paint

• Poor booth maintenance

• Leaving the booth doors open without the fan on (positive pressure keeps dust out)

• Not using a dust extraction system for blocking vehicles in prep

• And more…

When repairers truly get focused on preventing buffing, they often go from buffing some or much of the painted surface to only periodically removing minor imperfections. This reduces the cost of the time to remove the imperfections and gives the prep or paint team more time to produce billable paint work!

A second example is relative to the frequency and size of supplements and the reasons these supplements were necessary. To share feedback from these instances where tracking occurred, we often found that not having the main part available to transfer the disassembled part to at disassembly led to technicians not fully disassembling bumpers, doors, and liftgates. They also found that items were missing or found at various times during the repair, such as during installation of parts during body repairs, during paint preparation, and most commonly during reassembly. This cost timely delays waiting for parts added to estimating system, ordered, received, and delivered to the ve -

hicle. As a result, the improvement many repairers focused on centered on getting images prior to physical inspection and a detailed physical inspection of the damage. And that led to the ability to pre-order parts prior to the vehicle’s arrival. Then, once the parts have arrived, they can be mirror-matched, painted on both sides, and then moved to the repair-planning stall during disassembly to transfer parts and allow the technicians to catch all the additional parts which might have previously been part of a second, third, or fourth supplement. If a repairer can prevent these errors, the repair cycle time can be dramatically improved, consumer CSI is improved, and insurance scorecard results can be improved.

Once you have solid data on the area where you suspect an opportunity to improve, explain the goal to the team, set the expectation that there will not be negative repercussions for the errors, and then gather the data to have a representative sample to understand the opportunity to improve.

This data on errors and any data gathered and the ideas to prevent gathered from the staff at the moment an error is discovered is like “GOLD” to the repairer, for this gives us a head start in identifying potential improvements. This is the true key to making LEAN work for you!

The next step is to work with your team to review the documented process and decide,

• Do we merely need to review and reinforce / train the current staff on the process currently documented?

• Do the people have the proper incentives to follow the processes as defined?

• Are team members asked for ideas on how the process might be improved to prevent recurrence of errors?

• Are there third parties (fellow 20 group members, paint supplier resources or friends) who have improved the process, which can share their best practices?

Lean repairers need to be able to see the opportunities before them, build the confidence in their staff to confront errors as opportunities and track their frequency, and to continuously look for ways to improve processes as necessary. If they can follow this formula, amazing improvements can follow!

In the next article, we will further explore refining quality assurance systems through similar types of measurements.

55 April 2024 fenderbender.com

Navigating Insurance Coverages for the Vehicle in Your Shop

Having some knowledge of various insurance policies can prepare you for a coverage limit issue and allow you to advocate for your customer.

Some standard insurance knowledge is key when dealing with auto insurance claims. Everyone has some basic insurance knowledge, but there is some insurance knowledge I think that is critical to know to help your customer.

Insured vs. Claimant: It is important to know if your customer is the insured or the claimant when you are dealing with an auto insurance repair. If the customer is the insured, he or she is going to have the limitations of the insurance policy he or she purchased. If the customer is the claimant and goes through the responsible party’s insurance, they will have the limitation of the responsible party’s property damage liability limits. This is important for the repair shop to know when the customer is the claimant because you could run into property damage limit issues, where the full repair will not be covered, if it is a larger repair.

Property Damage Liability Limit: The property damage liability limit only applies if the customer is the claimant going through the responsible party’s insurance or if they are going through their insurance under uninsured motorist property damage. It is important to know your state minimum property damage limit in case your repair is getting close to the state limit. Then you need to inquire with the insurance what policy limit applies to the claim. You never want to get into a situation where you are knee-deep in a repair or done with a repair to find out the policy is going to be maxed out. This leaves you and your customer in a precarious situation of figuring out if they need to go through their own insurance or if they are going to have to pay something out-of-pocket for the repairs.

State in Which the Accident Occurred: You may think this has nothing to do with you, but it could. If you have a customer who is the claimant, (again, going through the responsible party’s insurance) and the repair is going to be a larger repair, you may need to know this information. If the responsible party has the state minimum property damage liability limit, like in New Mexico, where it is only $10,000 and the accident occurred in another state where the state minimum property damage liability limit is higher, then the responsible party’s limit automatically increases to the state minimum limit for the state the accident occurred in. This could make a difference to your shop if, as in this example, the vehicle repair is over $10,000 and the state the accident occurred in had a higher liability limit. I bring this point up because a lot of the times,

the insurance company will fail to increase the limit unless it is brought to their attention. This is a standard insurance clause in all policies in the United States. That’s why we can legally drive our vehicles over state lines without having to get insurance for that state.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage: If you have a customer who was hit by a driver who did not have insurance and your customer has this coverage on their own policy, then instead of your customer going through their collision coverage, they can go through their uninsured motorist property damage coverage. In most states, this is a predefined coverage with set rules. The beauty of uninsured motorist coverage is for many states, the deductible is dropped to $250. The claim is not surcharged on the customer’s insurance, meaning it won’t make their rates go up and a rental vehicle is provided. It may also be used if the responsible party’s insurance coverage is maxed out and there’s money left owed to repair or to total the vehicle. In some states, uninsured motorist coverage also applies to hit-and-runs. Please note that often, the customer must have filed a police report and request the insurance company to change the claim over to this coverage and not their collision coverage. Customers may have this coverage without having collision coverage on their policy. The details of uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage vary by state.

Rental Vehicle Coverage: No matter if the customer is the claimant or the insured, the insurance company does not have to set up direct billing with a rental car company. They can make the customer pay for their own rental and then submit for rental reimbursement. A lot of companies are starting to go to this if the customer is the claimant. If you have a customer where the insurance wants to do rental reimbursement and not set up direct billing, then I would encourage the customer to ask to be paid out for loss of use. Often, insurance will pay out for loss-of-use by calculating the type of vehicle times the repair days they are figuring to fix your vehicle. By requesting loss-of-use to be paid out, it can help the customer get a little bit of money to help with the upfront cost of the rental vehicle. Then if the repairs go over the number of days allotted by the insurance company for the repair, they can submit the rental vehicle invoice to the Insurance to have the difference reimbursed.

Overall, it’s important for you to know how to set up the proper fail-safes with your staff to ensure you don’t get into a situation where there’s a coverage limit issue and that you advocate for your customer.

56 April 2024 fenderbender.com
COLUMNS COLLISION COURSE EMAIL: tiffanykaymenefee@gmail.com ARCHIVE: fenderbender.com/menefee TIFFANY MENEFEE has more than 20 years experience in the insurance business and now runs a collision repair shop in El Paso, Texas.




Why Everything of Value Stems from Trust

Nurture this invaluable asset to help retain employees, engage customers, and differentiate your business

Why Trust Matters Across the Board

Trust is the foundation of every successful interaction, project, and endeavor. It is at the heart of strong families, businesses, and communities. In the collision repair industry, this communal trust yields a customer's commitment to returning to your shop, yielding an initial sale and a relationship built on dependability.

Trust becomes the invisible hand that guides a customer’s willingness to believe you have their best interest at heart. Without that assurance, we become a transactional stop in their service-seeking road map, easily swayed by convenience and cost-saving alternatives offered by insurers, rather than an unwavering partner in restoring their vehicle's integrity.

The High Cost of Lost Trust

In an industry fraught with competition, confusion, and aggressive persuasion, consumers can only afford to engage with a facility that inspires trust. In the same breath, a damaged reputation today is not easily repaired, and the consumer voice, amplified by online review platforms and social media, resonates far beyond the repair shop’s walls. A single instance of faltering trust can result in countless lost opportunities for business growth, not just in the immediate vicinity but globally, courtesy of the very platforms that amplify consumer content. Today, a negative experience can reach thousands of folks in a very short time frame.

Trust, Your Team, and Hidden Costs

Employee morale and turnover rates reflect the health of the trust within your shop. A lack of trust fuels attrition and toxic work environments, propelling unquantifiable hidden costs of training, HR management, and, most detrimentally, erosion of your shop’s collective knowledge. More time spent on rebuilding rather than polishing is a significant differentiator between top performers and those who are struggling.

Trust as a Sales Engine

In every interaction, we can strengthen or weaken the trust underpinning our customer relationships. Each person who walks through your door is not just a transaction; they are a potential ambassador for your shop, a living testament to the service they received and the trust you upheld. Our choices in the sales process are not mere transactions but trust transactions. Small daily interactions with team members and departments are the building blocks of trust. They determine the speed at which

prospective customers move from browsers to committed clients.

Rebuilding Trust Through Commitment

Trust, once damaged, is not lost forever. It can be rebuilt, whether internal or external to the business, but this process requires commitment and concerted action. It means acknowledging the breach, making and keeping new promises, and allowing these actions to redefine the customer's perception of your shop. Atrophy is the natural state of trust in the absence of intentional action. It withers unless consistently fed by the actions, policies, and attitudes that actively seek to obtain it. Fostering trust in your shop is a continuous, intentional process, a garden to be tended daily rather than a monument built once and admired from afar.

Competitive Positioning & Customer Retention

In an industry where price, false perceptions of proper repair standards, and insurance partnerships often dominate, trust becomes the differentiator between your shop and others. Loyalty is the extension of trust. Customers return to your shop because they believe in the quality of work, the honesty of service, and the personal trust they’ve invested in your team. To ensure they remain loyal, prioritize the constant reaffirmation of trust in every touchpoint of the customer experience. Making trust a fundamental ethic within your shop is not always straightforward. It requires a collective agreement that trust is not just a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have.” Nurturing a trust-centric environment involves a cultural shift that begins with leadership's example and permeates every level of your organization. Trust must radiate from the top down, not trickle up. Leaders must set the trust standard, exemplify it in their actions, and make it non-negotiable in the shop's vision. When leadership embodies trust, it becomes ubiquitous, a living value at the heart of all operational decisions.

Moving Forward — With Trust at the Helm

In conclusion, the value of trust in the collision repair industry cannot be overstated. It is the byproduct of well-oiled policy & procedures that greases the wheels of customer retention, employee engagement, and competitive differentiation. Moving forward, shops prioritizing and nurturing this invaluable asset will not just survive but prosper. After all, in business and life, everything of value is built on trust.

58 April 2024 fenderbender.com COLUMNS DUE PROCESS
STEVEN PARKS EMAIL: drew@orlandocollision.com ARCHIVE: fenderbender.com/bryant
DREW BRYANT has been the owner of DB Orlando Collision since August of 2011. A 20 Group leader, in-demand conference speaker and award-winning shop owner, Bryant takes a non-traditional approach to process implementation, lean process development, & overall operational experience while remaining dedicated to his staff’s personal and professional development.

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