Collision Repairers Hammer One More Nail Into Coffin

October 21, 2004 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I?m hearing a lot of grumbling lately about certain insurance companies trying to cut paint times by using the argument that if you repair the edge of a door you won?t need to paint the entire panel. They argue that if you?re only blending the color you shouldn?t be entitled to the full paint time. Many of you are falling for this crap. Many of you are accepting lower paint times. How do I know this? Because the practice is spreading like a bad case of the clap. Insurance companies that have never tried this thievery are joining in on the looting of body shops across the country. Those of you who are reluctantly accepting these raped paint times are MORONS, plain and simple.

Yeah, go ahead and say it, ?Shortell, you?re an idiot. You don?t know what you?re talking about. If I don?t accept it they?ll send the job to another shop that will.?

Sure, the insurance company will try to send the job to the shop down the street. Why not? The moron down the street is willing to work for free!

At some point someone in your little geographical area is going to have to be a man (or woman. Sorry ladies.) and tell the insurance appraiser to take his ?blend within the panel? and stick it up his bosses backside. Someone is going to have to grow the cahones and stand up for principles. One of you is going to have to risk losing a job to set things right. Will it be you, or are you going to wait for someone else to do it? Because I can tell you right now, if you wimps continue to bend over and spread your cheeks for the mighty insurance company, if you continue to sell yourself like a cheap, worn out whore, you?re going to end up just like one?used, abused and refused.

Allstate was pulling this crap years ago. The practice ended in my area soon after it started. I don?t know, maybe they had a conscious. Lately the big offender is Progressive. Not so long ago some pinhead executives at Progressive had a meeting and discussed ways of cutting costs. The conversation probably went something like this. ?You know, we have all these high risk customers and they?re starting to cost us money. We can?t raise their premiums because they can?t afford it and they?ll buy their insurance from some other company. Where can we cut expenses so we can regain profitability??

?Well we can?t cut litigation costs because those damn trial attorneys are too smart. We can?t cut advertising because without it we wouldn?t have all these wonderful high risk customers. Hey! I know! Let?s chisel away at the body shops. Their a bunch of uneducated morons. They?ll piss and moan but they don?t have the brains to do anything about it. Let?s try to lower paint labor by 10%. That will also save on materials costs. It should save us, like one hundred gazillion dollars a year! Have the claims people figure out how to do it.?

You know the rest of the story. See, they figure they can take that word ?Blend? and use it to their advantage. After all if you?re only repairing the edge of a door you?re only going to blend the color and then clear the entire door. Why should they pay you to paint color on the whole door?

It?s sounds like a good argument. Unfortunately, the premise is wrong. All the database providers define ?blend? as something you do to an undamaged, adjacent panel for the purpose of color match. Any panel that is repaired deserves full paint time. Any attempt by any insurance company to redefine the term ?blend,? or to cut paint times on a repaired panel is simply an immoral gimmick design to screw you and save them money.

Some of you may have not thought it through, but blending a panel in the proper sense, you know, on an adjacent panel for color match purposes, and for one half the base paint time, actually takes longer than it does to paint the entire outer panel. Think about everything you have to do to prep that panel. It?s the same for blending as it is for full paint. But you have to use finer sand paper to avoid scratches showing at the blend area. Finer paper takes longer to cut the finish. How much time is saved in the color spraying process by stopping your stroke at the center of the door instead of just past the edge? One second per pass? Four seconds per coat of color? Some paint systems require an adhesion promoter applied to the panel before the color. Doesn?t that take more time? What?s involved in getting a perfect blend edge on a light metallic color? Doesn?t that take more time fussing with the spray pattern, the mixture, gun angle, reducers, etc?

This practice of allowing 50% paint time for blending adjacent panels is a holdover from the lacquer days. Lacquer could be melted into the existing lacquer finish. You didn?t need to clear the entire panel for a blend, though many of us did. With pressure from their best and biggest customer?the insurance industry?database providers refuse to update their systems. Apparently the force of gravity applies to database times, because they invariably travel in one direction?down. For those of you who believe database providers are still doing times studies, here is a strong argument against that believe. If they were doing time studies they would have figured out by now that a blend takes longer than just painting a panel. They?d have to bump up that arbitrary figure of 50% to at least full paint time. The term ?blend? would cease to exist. But it continues to stand, propped up by the inertia insurance company money provides.

If you wonder why operation times continue to fall, all you have to do is look at dealership warranty times. They have been lower because mechanical warranty rates are realistic for warranty times, which are very close to straight time. And why should the database providers spend money doing time studies when they can get repair times from the manufacturers? They already get their images from the manufactures, and part numbers and part prices. Why not go for the entire package? All we need now is the manufactures? warranty labor rates. I can dream can?t I?

Progressive is not alone any more with this ?blend within the panel? rip off. I?ve seen it on other insurance company estimates lately. The reason other companies are trying it is because Progressive is having success with the practice. Other companies are imitating Progressive now with schemes similar to their ?concierge? program. Progressive is leading the insurance industry with dirty tricks and schemes designed to save them money and give them more control over the entire repair process. They are succeeding because many of you are helping them, enabling them like a sick, twisted crack-addict mother enables her boy friends to molest her little girl. She is just as guilty as the molester. And those of you enabling Progressive and others to molest and violate our industry are just as guilty as the insurers are. You are conspirators. Your attitudes and ignorance is destroying the collision repair industry from the inside out. We cannot blame the insurers because they are simply taking the path of least resistance. That lack of resistance is those of you who don?t push back. You aren?t following the rule of physics that dictates ?for every action, there is a reaction?? Where is your reaction? Where is your outrage? Why aren?t you pushing back? Those of you just going with the flow are killing us all. We need your help, your weight, your strength. We need you to care?just a little.

This practice of cutting paint times is not illegal. Some of you think it is, and you think the government will step in and do something. Not in this case people. And if they did make it illegal I?d be the first one crying foul. Many of us in this industry are always quoting the database providers, proudly and with zeal, that the books and computer programs are just guides. They are not laws. They are not statutes. We do not write estimates with the Holy Bible. Well it works both ways. The insurance companies have every right to use these systems as guides only. They have every right to try to cut costs. They have every right to try to convince the ignorant in our industry that they don?t deserve full paint time on a repaired panel. It may be mean. It may be rude. It may be stingy. It may even be immoral, but it is not illegal. The collision repair industry is on it?s own in this fight, folks.

Each of us has the right and the ability to fight back in this latest battle. Each of us also has the right to do nothing and accept defeat. What are you going to do? Will you fight and refuse to accept arbitrarily lowered paint times? Or will you bend over and take the pain and humiliation? You decide your own fate. Please! Don?t Be A MORON!

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Comments

13 Comments on Collision Repairers Hammer One More Nail Into Coffin

  1. Roger Walling on Thu, 21st Oct 2004 2:16 pm
  2. Whether you refinish the entire panel or paint one area of a panel and "let down" the color to match, it is the full refinish time to me. You still have to prepare the entire panel for the clear. (clear coat times do not inc. any surface prep. time) Maybe on hard colors, the book refinish time is not enough time to make a flawless transition and more time should be allowed.
    PS, Don’t forget the "prime and block sand " time to restore the damaged panel, as all book times are for “new undamaged panels”.

  3. BOB W on Thu, 21st Oct 2004 2:49 pm
  4. I find when i talk to some of the estimators on our side of the fence(the ones in the shop)there is a lack of knowledge on why we charge for what we do, Some don’t have a true grasp of the workmanship involved in a repair process, I have had a number of conversations regarding this problem with ins. estiamtors and all they can say is thats the way we are told to do it,
    and it seems to be preloaded into there data base. Just like any thing else if we as owners and managers are not truly educated in our cost and procedures we can not have a viable discussion with the people trying to change the rules. We need to be able to explain our own cost and proceedures and continue to give a valid argument against the changes they keep coming up with, An educated person is a stronger tool than a hammer,

  5. Scott Tofte on Thu, 21st Oct 2004 3:02 pm
  6. You are absolutely right! We need representation on a national level today! A well run collision repairers association could help us stop the insurers dirty play. Why isn’t there one?
    I’m a shop owner in Minnesota (24 yrs.) and I’m unaware of even a state organization. Guys and gals, we better get it together!!!!

  7. Carl Brown on Thu, 21st Oct 2004 3:04 pm
  8. State Farm tried this stunt on me over the phone. I told the, as you say "moron" on the other end of the phone that if he could explain to me the difference between blend and refinsh times I would be happy to except. Needless to say he couldn’t and needless to say I didn’t get the job. I have argued this point for years and have had success. Remember guys you have to stand up for yourselves!! But unfortunately some won’t. I have lost jobs over this also but I’m still in business. You can starve to death working or starve riding your Harley, it’s your choice.
    Carl Brown

  9. Tony Lombardozzi on Fri, 22nd Oct 2004 4:59 am
  10. As long as we continue to bill our services as an hourly service we will continue to be beat up.
    I still can not understand why this industry would give any kind of credibility to those database providers any way. Those publications and electronic estimating systems are being used to control our fees and we are allowing this to happen. The insurers are the largest purchaser of their products and services, so it’s time we begin to realize that these providers are not on our side. It is time for this industry to adjust to a method of pricing in dollar value of our services. If we can accomplish this we are well on our way to begin taking back our industry.
    WE ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT CAN CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS TO US.
    I have seen unsuspecting animals going to slaughter put up a better fight.

  11. J H on Fri, 22nd Oct 2004 5:39 am
  12. I guess it is amazing to some, how our industry continues to survive, by taking more money out of the pockets of collision repair facilities.What is more amazing is the inability for most of us to know the difference between PROFIT AND LOSS.I am convinced after my meager time of 5 years in this industry that our biggest problem is our lack of knowledge.
    We have ushered in more programs that continue to take money(MY MONEY)out of our pockets.Basically I have alligned myself with a bunch of people that are clueless on how to track profitability.This blend issue is only a symtom of a bigger problem.
    The problem started when trading volume for some kind of discount back to you know who (INSURANCE COMPANIES). I am not opposed to working together, however ,when that idea cost me PROFIT,QUALITY,OR BASICALLY THE ABILITY TO RUN MY BUSINESS ,then I REACT.
    My belief is that you must have knowledge to combat the so called powers to be.I belong to a local ASC group.Guess what?Even we cant agree to act together on this.The reason is that many shops have gotton used to bending over for there so called friend.I wonder how that feels now that the industry has slowed down.I would rather get paid PROFITABLY for five jobs than to discount eight to ten and get the same profit.
    We are only hurting ourselves when we agree to this type of RAPE!!! CALLED BLENDING WITHIN A PANEL.
    We are not being fair to our people,the customer,or ourselves when we work like mules for poppers wages.What happened to an honest days work for an honest days pay.You Guessed It !!!!! CORPORATE GREED !!!!!!!
    I will continue to run an honest facility that does QUALITY WORK for QUALITY PAY.I will fight with knowledge and awareness that no one will look out for our interest except ourselves!!!!!!!
    I believe there are still good shops that not only care about themselves but truely care about their people and staff enough to stand up and help straighten this mess up.I PRAY that we can make a change that allows for us to once again be PROFITABLE.
    If you are wondering,No I do not belong to any DRP PROGRAMS. Yes I am Busy.Yes,I am making MONEY.NO I am not popular with a lot of drp folks. However,our customers love us and they trust us.I look out for their interest, not others.Remember,they pay their money for good service,how about we give it to them at a PRICE that is fair to all.
    MOST IMPORTANTLY ,I THANK GOD EACH AND EVERY DAY FOR THE STRENGTH HE GIVES ME AND THE CONTINUED PROVISIONS THAT HE ALONE PROVIDES.WITHOUT HIM I WOULD HAVE GIVEN UP A LONG TIME AGO.

  13. dp on Fri, 22nd Oct 2004 6:25 am
  14. One of the big problems with this blend & clear entire panel for less is misuse and ABUSE of the WORD CLEAR. They talk of clear like its some magical cemical we spray on a panel that melts everything together thus making our jobs easyer. Let me set the process straight (and correct me if Im wrong) clear coat IS PAINT it just does’nt have any pigment in it and paint that doesnt have any pigment in it does’nt hide very much therefore requires more labor to create an invisible repair. and #2 since clear is paint technicaly you are acualy PAINTING THE ENTIRE PANEL. not the perverted term blend & clear as if you are only using a chemical process. This misunderstanding of repair process and terminoligy is clear evidence of why we the body repair experts should be writing the estimates & the insurance people that are experts at taking everyones money should only be allowed to pay the bill. adjusters are trained to try to weasle out of paying as much as they can. which fails to imdemnify the consumer and for that laws are inforce for. Insurance companys have the largest skysrapers in north america and they wasnt built on their losses. also the time studies should have to be bonded & documented by law in real world applications as well as witnessed by body shop people. the information providers are only providing information that insurance people want to see inorder for the insurance companys to accept the estimate. I feel that there has been a conspirancy between insurance comany and estimating soft ware providers for a long time. for that in think that there should be an investigation.but thats a different subject.

  15. Pete Freeman on Fri, 22nd Oct 2004 8:32 am
  16. The local association out here is about worthless. They, too, have their heads up the insurance industries rear end. I have always said that the way to beat the insurance industry is to educate the public. Till there is an educational campaign put out to the public, nothing will change. In Germany, body technicians are up there with doctors in the public eye. No one can work on a car without completing a 5 yr apprenticeship program. We nee a trade union and make sure the public knows and respects what a union technician can do and what they will not do.

  17. J B on Tue, 26th Oct 2004 5:34 am
  18. Wah wah wah!! I’ve never seen so many babies. My pockets are okay and I’m taking what the insurance company gives me. I just bought a new house and a 42′ Fountain. I’d rather get along with the insurance companies and let them send me work and keep the money train rolling!

    RESPONSE FROM AUTHOR: Here you go folks! Perfect example of a Moron. Except this Moron is from an insurance company. He is a liar. He works for Safeco Insurance. Here is the IP Address information. Give him a call or send an email and say hello!

    OrgName: SAFECO INSURANCE CO.
    OrgID: SAFECO-16
    Address: 700 STANLEY DRIVE
    City: NEW BRITAIN
    StateProv: CT
    PostalCode: 06050
    Country: US
    IP Address: 12.111.68.2
    NetRange: 12.111.68.0 – 12.111.68.31
    CIDR: 12.111.68.0/27
    NetName: SAFECO453-68-0
    NetHandle: NET-12-111-68-0-1
    Parent: NET-12-0-0-0-1
    NetType: Reassigned
    Comment:
    RegDate: 2001-01-04
    Updated: 2001-01-04

    TechHandle: VL93-ARIN
    TechName: Lowe, Victor
    TechPhone: +1-860-827-4246
    TechEmail: viclow@safeco.com

    OrgTechHandle: VL93-ARIN
    OrgTechName: Lowe, Victor
    OrgTechPhone: +1-860-827-4246
    OrgTechEmail: viclow@safeco.com

  19. Jim on Sun, 31st Oct 2004 7:10 pm
  20. I tried to call this Victor to give him a piece of my mind…it turns out he is in the IT department. Looks like we got the wrong guy

  21. Forest on Thu, 4th Nov 2004 1:43 pm
  22. Lets stop talking about it and get it started! I’ll spread the word to other shops everyone else that reads these comments spread the word, lets put a few dollars together for ads in all the trade magazines so other shops will spread the word and then we will all get together, but no talking about rates, right?
    Thats easy to say than do though since we are busting our buts to pay our high paid employees with the low wages we recieve from the insurance companys.

  23. Arlie O. on Mon, 22nd Nov 2004 11:25 pm
  24. Hey folks; Farmers Ins. has really stuck it to me twice this week on this same issue. I argued till I was blue in the face, even using I-CAR standards as a reason, and also because it takes more time to blend than to panel paint. To no avail. Any suggestions I would sure take them. My #1 Employee and I decided we would tell Farmers to go ahead and take the work down the road next time. I would rather go broke not working at all than to go broke working my rear off padding the insur. co. pocket. Till Later Arlie…

    RESPONSE FROM AUTHOR:

    No suggestions Arlie. You did exactly what you should have done. If you had backed down and repaired the car you would have validated their slimy business practices. Good for you Arlie. Now you need to convince your neighbors to do the same.

  25. PAINT TECHNICIAN on Sat, 25th Dec 2004 10:01 am
  26. How is it that it actually costs me money to repair a car now instead of me making any money? I am a painter in southern California. ONE example of this ongoing ripoff of the techs: I had a Chevy S10 door that they wanted me to spot paint for .3 units. This was a Farmers job. This job was to pay me a whopping $3.33! I also have to colorsand and buff this panel for free, Farmers will not pay for this, also featheredge and prime for zero dollars. This should be against labor laws. I refused to do this job. I got into a heated disagreement with management and the writers. They ended up paying for blend time instead of spot time which paid .8 units. Big deal. I still lose. Example #2: Picky customer, brand new $90,000 Corvette. Replace the front bumper and blend two fenders and the hood. To paint the two fenders and hood I was paid a whopping $33.00. Yes, that says $33.00! I had to colorsand and buff the frontend for $0.00, cover car for overspray for $0.00, mask engine compartment for $0.00, custom mask wheel wells $0.00, and again this job had to be better than factory. I complained about this one, too, oh yes, this is Farmers job also. I did not get a single cent more for this job. Customer was very satisfied, though. Glad he could afford a $90,000 car, does he know how much his insurance was paying to me to fix it? I’m sure his premiums aren’t too cheap. HOW DO WE STOP THIS THIEVERY! I WORK MY BUTT OFF EVERYDAY AND I GET LESS MONEY FOR EVERY JOB. I CAN’T WORK ANY SMARTER OR HARDER. I DO ARGUE MY POINTS WITH MANAGEMENT, SOMETIMES IT WORKS, SOMETIMES, IT DOESN’T. THEY CANNOT UNDERSTAND, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NEVER REPAIRED A VEHICLE THEMSELVES. I FEEL I AM BEING BULLIED BY THESE INSURANCE COMPANIES. WE PAY OUTRAGEOUS PREMIUMS, AND THEY DO NOT PAY APPROPRIATELY FOR REPAIRS. OUR INDUSTRY IS GOING DOWNHILL FAST.

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