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The economy continues to slide further into a recession and it seems like every other day a major company is getting bailouts. I think many of us are questioning the outlook for the year ahead. Is it time to close the doors or invest further into the future?

The answer is “yes.” Like Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

When speaking about the economy, president-elect Obama recently said that things are going to get tougher before they get better. Right or wrong, we are going to see regulatory tools used as an attempt to balance the abuse of greed and of Main Street America. Our industry is also going to be faced with continued challenges.

Insurance companies will continue to focus on cost containment. This will require repair facilities to really focus on the financial statement, be smart about what they deserve and be more involved in their associations, whether local, state, regional or national. Associations will continually need to develop better tools for financial planning, communication and development so that the industry can see industry standards as they develop.

Customer service will be important to customer retention. Consumers have already tightened their budgets and will be looking for quality, value and relationships once again. Instead of risking their money for a “bargain,” they will be willing to spend a little more to be reassured that the work will be done right. DRPs will continue to develop various models, but the repair facility that can deliver efficient service for their customer without excuses will be the winner.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, ask yourself How can I help them get from here to there?, and then DO IT! That is something that you can control—and it will help you increase customer retention as well as your bottom line.

Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.


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