|Insurer Viewpoint: Driving Change|
|Articles - Features|
|Monday, 01 October 2012 11:13|
The dialogue between stakeholders is toxic and has to change.
By Ken Boulton
Toronto, Ontario -- October 1, 2012 -- I am concerned. Concerned about the comments directed at insurance companies during the Canadian Collision Industry Forum (CCIF) meeting in Vancouver earlier this year. It underlines a tension in the industry that unfortunately continues to exist between insurers and collision repairers.
While I believe the comments may have been made out of frustration, they were likely meant as a call to action designed to spur the proactive, open dialogue and collaboration that is required if CCIF—and to a greater extent the collision repair industry—is to survive. Healthy, focused dialogue about the things that matter is a step in the right direction. Industry forums must be a place for meaningful discussion and change.
If the serious conversations that everybody seems to support are ever going to happen, all stakeholders must not only come to the table understanding that they are part of the problem, but more importantly, they need to come with the attitude that each of us has an opportunity to be a part of the solution. Continuing to blame insurance companies for all that ails the industry is not only unproductive, it parks the issue in one place. This prohibits the required changes that will only happen when all parties are willing to admit fault and truly participate.
Our industry’s issues are not unique. We are not the only industry with shrinking profit margins, increased outside regulation, an aging workforce and a lack of new skilled workers. The list of problems goes on and on, as does the list of industries facing the same challenges. Business has changed for all of us. We need to work together to figure out a way that our businesses can remain viable and profitable.
I recently read an article where the author suggested that the relationship between collision repairers and insurers was tenuous at best. There are many reasons for that, but perhaps one of our biggest problems is a lack of mutual respect. In my 32 years in the industry, I’ve seen both sides. As a shop manager, I recall appraisers who came into my shop with the clear intention of reducing my estimate regardless of how good a sheet it was. As an independent appraiser, I remember going into shops and wondering if I was even looking at the same car based on the estimate I was handed.
Today, there are a good number of shops and independent appraisers doing a fantastic job. Unfortunately, I suspect that the practices I described are still alive and well. Such actions discredit the appraisers, the companies they work for and our industry, not to mention the customers we serve.
The one thing that I hope we can agree on is that we are all working toward providing our mutual customer with a quality, safe repair at a fair price. Our estimate, repair plan, blueprint—whatever you want to call it—should always, from beginning to end, truly reflect that objective. While there will always be differences of opinion, if our approach to dealing with each other is grounded in serving the customer and mutual respect, we will elevate the professionalism and integrity of this industry.
John C. Maxwell talks about this in his book, Developing the Leader Within You. To paraphrase, he says we all struggle with making decisions between what we want to do and what we ought to do. It is our integrity that allows us to establish the ground rules for resolving these tensions. It allows us to predetermine what we will be regardless of circumstances, persons involved or places of our testing.
The conversations won’t be easy. They likely won’t happen quickly nor will there be immediate change. We may not even like some of the outcomes, but the conversations need to be thoughtful and action-driven. Pure and simple, they need to take place.
© Copyright 2012 Collision Repair magazine
|Last Updated on Monday, 01 October 2012 11:26|
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