Connecting to Customers with SceneExchange
While surfing the Internet one day, Lynn Keenan stumbled upon a Web site where she learned about a program that lets auto body shops bid for repair jobs online. The co-owner of Precision Collision in Winter Haven, Fla., emailed the company right away. She was eager to find out how to drum up some extra business.
SceneExchange.com is powered by Scene Genesis, a technology company that works with shop owners, insurers and customers. The idea was first introduced at the International Autobody Congress and Exposition (NACE) in 2007, and so far, body shops in five states participate in the program.
Keenan—whose shop spans 15,000 square feet and relies on five employees—has used SceneExchange for the past eight months. She’s found it to be a cost-effective way to market her shop online, to build a stronger customer base and to add an extra few thousand dollars to the bottom line.
REVVING UP A NEW PROGRAM
The advent of SceneExchange was a natural for Scene Genesis, which draws feedback from both shops and insurers, says Marketing Manager Beth Bailey. “[The goal] is to provide better communication and better transparency through the entire repair process,” she says.
The program works like this: Local shops are alerted when a new collision repair job is posted by participating insurers. Shop owners and managers can choose to bid for the job based on service and turnaround time. When the bids are in, the car owner visits SceneExchange to view each shop’s proposal—including information about the training of the shop’s technicians and its warranty policies. Auto owners can also review ratings from other folks who’ve taken their car to the same shop.
—Beth Baily, marketing manager, Scene Genesis
So far, SceneExchange is being used by more than 6,000 shops in Florida, New Jersey, Missouri, Montana, Illinois and Iowa. It’s expected to be up and running for New York shortly. “Every quarter we plan to roll out more states,” Bailey says.
THE INS AND OUTS
Participating shops—which can either be affiliated with a dealership or not—do not need to be part of a direct repair program (DRP) to take advantage of SceneExchange. Bailey says Scene Genesis is careful to allow all shops equal access to the program. “The shops can potentially have jobs coming in for review from any insurance company. The insurance companies can’t come to us and say, ‘We’ve got DRPs with A, B and C body shops.’ We want every shop to have equal advantage.”
Shops pay a flat fee of $110 if they’re selected for a job. Every other aspect of the program—signing up, viewing potential jobs, submitting proposals—is free. Proposals are based heavily upon a shop’s cycle time, although that isn’t necessarily the sole factor in determining whether a particular shop will be chosen for a job, Bailey says. If a person owns a BMW, for example, that customer may select a shop that specializes in BMW repairs, even if its cycle time isn’t the best.
After an accident, participating insurers inform Scene Genesis about it. Then a Scene Genesis representative contacts the auto owner to let them know about SceneExchange, Bailey explains. Then, if the auto owner wants to choose a shop through SceneExchange, they are guided on how to proceed. If they elect not to participate, they continue with the repair process through their individual insurance company. Vehicle owners are typically presented with three to six proposals, ensuring a solid selection of shops, Bailey says.
Over the past several months, Keenan has received 10 jobs via SceneExchange. Her shop is located in a relatively rural town of 50,000 people. “The biggest benefit is the ability to build a bigger customer base,” she says, noting that Precision does not participate in any DRP programs.
The jobs that Keenan has received from SceneExchange typically range from $3,500 to $7,000. She appreciates that the program places an emphasis on a shop’s cycle time. “[The program] is about turnaround time and getting the customer back in their car, and that’s what we like about it best.” At Precision, SceneExchange customers typically have their cars repaired within three or four days.
Repair information is tracked on SceneExchange, which helps keep jobs organized for both shops and customers. “You can see where things are, the notes from insurance carriers and from the body shop,” Bailey says. “That cuts down calls to the shop not only from the consumer but also from the insurance company.”
So far, the only drawback of participating in the program, says Keenan, has been missing out on a job if the customer lives too far away. SceneExchange makes an effort to alleviate this problem by allowing shops to set a maximum distance for jobs.
Though the program is still evolving and expanding, Keenan has been impressed. For her, it’s been a nice way to boost the shop’s customer base in a cost-effective way. The nominal fee of $110 per job acquired is more than worth it, since it adds several thousand extra dollars to her bottom line every time. She hopes word will continue to spread about SceneExchange and, in turn, bring more business her way. “The people from SceneExchange have been really supportive,” she says. “It’s refreshing to work with people who are fair and pay us properly.”