Running a Shop Columnists

Editor’s Letter: Fever Pitch

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For nearly anyone in this industry, the insurer-shop relationship has been a recurring friction point for years. It’s certainly been a topic of conversation since I joined the industry eight years ago.
  
But I have to say, that conversation has never been louder than it has been over the past 12 months. If anything, it’s reached a fever pitch.
    
Nearly every industry-related conversation I seem to have, read about, or see on social media seems to revolve around issues with insurers, difficulties getting reimbursed, pushback on following OEM repair procedures, a tightening on DRP demands.
    
For a while, I wondered if it was just me. Or if we were all burnt out from COVID. Or if our editorial advisory board members were just particularly passionate. I started putting out feelers, asking others in the industry, “does it seem worse to you?” 
What I got back was a resounding “yes.”
    
As per usual, I thought industry consultant Mike Anderson said it best when I talked to him: “Before we would argue about taking a door handle off the door. That was a pretty easy battle—it’s just educating. The things we disagreed on weren’t things that would kill someone. Now, they’re life-and-death situations.” 
  
Let that sink in for a moment.
    
What we’re dealing with are life-and-death situations, and collision repairers are being put in the middle of it. 
    
To put it simply, that’s unfair, unjust and it’s not serving the customer—which is who all stakeholders in this industry are supposed to be serving, right? At least in theory.
    
As Indiana shop owner Greg Lobsiger recently put it to me: “Reality is, we are running small businesses in a big business financial arena.”
    
I think that gets at what’s been so difficult about the situation: Even though this industry has, again, in theory, one common goal, it doesn’t always feel that way. And that’s also what’s made it so hard to find a solution to the issue at hand. 
    
When will enough be enough, though? There has to be some way to keep everyone in this industry accountable: the OEs, the insurers, the collision repairers, and the vendors supporting those stakeholders. 
    
It’s complicated, it won’t be easy—but it’s critical to maintaining the viability of this industry.

All of this has been top of mind for me as the editor of this publication and while I have ideas, I want to ask: How can we here at FenderBender help? What conversations can we start? How can we help make an impact?

I’d love to know, and I hope that a year from now, we look back on 2021 as the turning point.

Anna Zeck
Editorial Director

 

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