Another Weapon For Your Arsenal

March 24, 2004 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

It?s a national pastime for people in the collision repair industry to bash insurance companies. And most of the insurance companies deserve some verbal abuse. Many of us feel helpless against the rich giants who seem to run our businesses into the ground. Complaining makes us feel so much better, doesn?t it?

But what about when an insurance company does the right thing? Well, hey, that?s good news, and like the press operates, good news is not news fit to print. That?s unfortunate. Good news and positive stories can affect our industry just as much as bad news can?maybe more! In fact, we can just look at our current situation and conclude that all the complaining, whining and hand wringing has done little to improve labor rates or stop unfair business practices by the insurance industry. It?s helped a little, but I don?t think we?ve gotten a very good return on our time and energy invested. It?s time to try something different.

For several years now I have been rewarding well behaved insurance companies by giving them referrals. I took one of their tactics and turned it around on them. They have their list of preferred shops, the shops they try to steer their customers to. I have my list of preferred insurance companies that I try to steer my customers to. I?ve included the list in the disclaimer section of my estimating software, and after printing I staple it to the top of the estimate so the referral list is the first thing my customer reads when they look it. We ask every customer about their insurance coverage, and if they have a carrier not on our list we explain the benefits of switching. We are careful not to bad mouth the insurance companies that don?t make our list, but instead, we explain the differences.

This system has worked well. We have converted many of our customers. This has helped to shape our business so that we deal more now with insurance companies we like, and less with companies that we have to fight with to get fair treatment.

One of the companies at the top of our list is State Farm. Now I?m sure there are some of you who don?t like State Farm for one reason or another. But in the past several years State Farm has topped most surveys done by those in our industry as the best insurance company to deal with. Ever since their loss in the class action suit over aftermarket parts, they have taken a new approach to dealing with body shops and paying claims. They?ve eliminated the use of aftermarket parts. They began paying for operations they didn?t want to pay for in the past. They are still the only insurance company that does a labor rate survey every year and sets their standard labor rate based on the results of their survey. Their Service First direct repair program is the benchmark by which all other programs should be judged.

How many of you have picked up the phone and called the claims manager and thanked them? How many of you fail to fill out the survey form and fax it back to them?

There is nothing more motivating to a person than recognition for their efforts and a slap on the back for a job well done. Don?t think of an insurance company as some large, faceless, uncaring, unthinking and unfeeling entity. An insurance company is just a group of people working together toward one goal?a team. The decision makers are people too, and they also enjoy positive feedback, especially in an industry constantly maligned as a greedy monster. It is obviously costing State Farm money to conduct business the way they are now, and unless they receive some positive benefits, they may not see any reason to continue. These benefits can come in the way of new customers generated by referrals from you, or just a quick phone call telling the claims manager how much you appreciate the way they treat you and your customer fairly.

Every insurance company on my referral list knows they are on my list. And they know why they are on the list. Companies not on my list know it, and they know why. Because every estimate I write has my referral list on it, every company that sees one of my estimates also sees my referral list. It has to have some impact, even if it?s just cause for a conversation around the water cooler or in a claims meeting.

Body shops can have a lot of influence on which company their customers purchase insurance coverage from. Those companies who advertise cheapest rates, arrive at the accident scene before the police do, or are experts a restoring rice crispy treats to pre -accident condition might be giving people the only input and information about insurance coverage they?ll ever get. It?s up to you, as a shop owner, to educate your customers about what they will receive for those burnt-to-the-bottom-of-the-pan, rice crispy treat rates. They need to know that going for the cheapest rates may end up costing them a small fortune if their insurance company refuses to pay the costs needed to repair their car properly.

So take a break. Pull back from the front lines of the battle field. Pick up the phone and call the claims manager at every insurance company you think treats you and your customers fairly. Tell them you appreciate their fairness. Let them know that you are referring your customers to their company for insurance coverage. Encourage them to keep up the good work. After all the stress and difficulties that pile up during the day, doing this will calm you. Giving praise to those rare insurance companies will make you feel revitalized. Maybe tomorrow you?ll have that little bit of extra something you need to win another battle.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tell a Friend

Comments

4 Comments on Another Weapon For Your Arsenal

  1. CrashnBurn on Thu, 25th Mar 2004 4:17 am
  2. Good job. I have been telling this to guys in my area for years, but all they want to do is complain. It is so much better to watch insurers get mad at us for beating them at their own game.

  3. Dan penn on Thu, 25th Mar 2004 6:48 am
  4. How much did state farm pay you to say all those nice missleading statements about them? Boy are you missinformed! first of all understand this. State Farm hasn’t been in all those law suits because of their just good old boys image., Its because of the unscruplous ways they conduct buisness & continue conducting buisness. for example just recently state farm caped our paint matterials @ $450. on a complete paint. they told us to provide a invoice, which we did for the amount of $726. they still refused to pay the full amount. Im so sick of you people praising these companys for their diversionary tactics. we skined a door for state farm, following their qriteria while on their list, only to be removed from their list & charged for a used door& a $1900. corrective repair bill.on truck with 192,000 miles on it As they whinned about losing a $8 million law suit down in georgia. when we dont even have any dv laws in this state. all of the law suits state farm got hit with they deserved every penny of it & then some for the corrupted ways they continue to conduct buisness. Besides their bean counters have allready done the math & screwd shops & policy holders out of more than what the fines where. all insurance companys that fail to pay for all nesissary repairs. should loose their licence to sell policys period. most insurance companys out their are nothing short of organized crime. the bottom line is that we sould be allowed to repair a car the BEST WAY that it can be repaird. then what we need to do would be CLEAR, And what they have to PAY for would also be CLEAR!

  5. FREADE on Tue, 30th Mar 2004 10:22 am
  6. I ALSO USED TO THINK STATE FARMS PROGRAM WAS THE BEST, UNTIL THEY MOVED MY AREA TO A DIFFERANT ZONE WHICH MEANT NEW SERVICE FIRST MANAGEMENT. THEY WANTED US TO FORGET EVERYTHING WE HAD BEEN DOING,AND CHANGE OUR WAYS TO MEET THEIRS. WE’VE DONE THE SAME PROCEDURES FOR YEARS AND WITH OVER 10 DIRECT REPAIR INSURANCE COMPANIES. WE DO MORE WORK FOR STATE FARM THAN ANY OTHER COMPANY, SO THE DISCION TO CONTINUE OUR SUCCESSFUL WAYS OF THE PAST WAS NOT AN EASY ONE. EVENTUALY WE REMOVE FROM THE PROGRAM TEMPERARILY THEY SAID UNTIL WE COULD "GET ON THE SAME PAGE". WE HAVE LOST VERY LITTLE IF ANY OF THEIR WORK SINCE, AND CONTINUE TO REPAIR OUR CUSTOMERS CARS WITH OUR LIFETIME WARRANTEE THE SAME AS WE’VE DONE SINCE 1990. THE ONLY DIFFERANCE IS THEIR CUSTOMERS ASK US WHY WE ARE NOT ON THEIR "LIST" ANYMORE, WHICH LEADS TO OUR "LIST" OF RECOMMENDED INSURANCE COMPANIES. SINCE S.F.’S ADJUSTER (WHO IS HERE NEARLY EVERYDAY) HAS ASKED US TO GET BACK ON SERVICE FIRST. AFTER 3 MONTHS I’M STILL THINKING ABOUT IT, BUT THE ONLY ADVANTAGE I CAN REALLY SEE IS EFT PAYMENT.
    S.F. HAS GONE FROM FIRST TO WORST ON MY LIST OF INSURANCE COMPANIES, BUT I DON’T THINK IT IS STATE FARM, I THINK ITS THE PERSONEL RUNNING THE SERVICE FIRST PROGRAMS, SOME OF THEM THINK THEY ARE YOUR BOSS AND HAVE CONTROL OF YOUR BUISNESS AND OTHERS WANT TO WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE OUR MUTUAL CUSTOMER SATISFIED!

  7. Gary Watson on Tue, 13th Apr 2004 12:51 pm
  8. State Farm recently gave us a rate increase. Shortly after the increase their reinspector came into the shop to inspect a Service First repair. His quote to me was "Since the rate increase
    State Farm will no longer pay to clean the car, allow color tint in the refinish colomn and color sanding should is only allowed as a supplement after the vehicle is painted". So we get a rate increase and that justifies them taking away most of the non-included items nec. to properly restore a vehicle to pre-loss condition. This makes no sense but I’m sure it makes State Farm millions of cents.

Tell me what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!





  • Recent Comments

    ?????: Good way of telling, and pleasant article to get i...
    venlamonster.Tumblr.com: Whats up very cool blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wond...
    MICHAEL D ROSE: I HAVE BEEN THE MANAGER OF A DPR SHOP HERE IN ABIL...
    Rude69.com: Hi there, this weekend is pleasant in favor of me,...
    volvo auto: Why people still use to read news papers when in t...
    voyance privée par téléphone: www.styl-voyance.com propose un cabinet de voyance...
    Tj90: I'm fighting with farmers now. I'm being told they...
    Bob Isham: Jessica, use you own insurance to repair the truck...
    Jessica: I was rear-ended by a guy not paying attention in ...
    Manny prado: I'm glad I don't have a manager like this at my sh...
  • Archives

    • [+]2019 (2)
    • [+]2011 (3)
    • [+]2010 (3)
    • [+]2009 (8)
    • [+]2008 (11)
    • [+]2007 (20)
    • [+]2006 (14)
    • [+]2005 (14)
    • [+]2004 (22)
    • [+]2003 (12)