A Shift in the Industry
The landscape of collision repair has seen a major shift since Bill Lopez first got involved in the industry in 1989. Lopez, the Vice President of Collision at OEC, has 29 years of experience in the industry. He has worked with insurers, information providers and automakers, including OEC for the past 14 years. With his unique background, he has had a front row seat to the changing dynamics in the collision repair industry over the past few decades.
When Lopez started, the body shop, insurer and information providers were the three primary and active stakeholders in collision repair with the automaker taking a passive role at best. Fast forward 30 years and the OEMs have taken an increasing role in the collision repair space. This increased role has required insurers, body shops and information providers to rethink their relationships with automakers.
Driving Forces Behind the Shift
“One significant driver, among others, behind the emergence of automakers in the repair scene is the shift in parts,” Lopez says.
“Parts sales have slowly eroded over the last 30 years and automakers have begun to take note,” Lopez says.
Thirty years ago, OEs had a significant share of parts sales with recycled and aftermarket parts starting to emerge. With salvage and aftermarket parts becoming more common and insurers trying to keep the repair cost down, OEs have to fight for that share of the marketplace. Tools like MyPriceLink (a service that delivers real-time dynamic list pricing on OE parts based on timing and local market conditions) and CollisionLink have made it easier for OEs to protect and regain parts share.
“Another significant driver behind OE’s getting more involved is the Body Shop’s need for more information—cars are now computers on wheels,” Lopez says. “They’re pulling automakers into the process.”
Because of vehicle complexity, body shops need repair information from the OEs. This is where OEM repair procedures come into play. In order to ensure the safest and most accurate repair, OEs now issue repair procedures that detail the exact process and parts that are to be used during repairs. Another reason for these repair procedures is the advancement of technology—repairs are not as simple as they once were.
“If you think about it, the insurer and the automaker are both trying to service the same person—the insured, who is the vehicle owner of an OEM brand. Why wouldn’t they work together?” Lopez says. “Insurers are after policyholder retention and satisfaction while the automaker is after brand satisfaction and loyalty. And, not to mention they are both after safe and proper repairs. Pre- and post-repair scanning, repair procedures, MyPriceLink, CollisionLink conquest programs are all reasons why both parties are talking directly like never before.”
The Key Players
Body Shop: As OEs become more involved in the repair process, body shops have shifted to focus on OEM certifications.
Insurer: Insurers now deal directly with the automakers in a way that they never had to before because they need vehicle repair information for their DRP shops. There is more communication between the two than ever before.
Automaker: The automaker is now an integral part of the process and shares information with insurers, shops and information providers. Technology has played a large role in allowing the OEs to do this.
Information provider: Typically, information providers had a close relationship with insurers, but not necessarily the automakers. Now, information providers have to engage the automaker unlike never before to get OE parts list price, as an example, via MyPriceLink to put into their estimating systems. MyPriceLink is an example of how automakers are using technology to initiate meaningful conversations with insureds.
Looking to the Future
A shift is taking place, and shop owners need to be ready. OEs are dictating how repairs are done, and body shops need to have access to the right information and the right parts. For 18 years, OEC has been in the OE parts business. With that many years of experience, Lopez says OEC is in a good position to help facilitate the paradigm shift.
“CollisionLink is used by 8,000–10,000 body shops every day,” Lopez says. “We have a relationship with 24 automakers and manage over 29 parts programs; we’re able to have the conversation to help bring the automakers along on the journey.”