Building Successful DRP Relationships
She could have been a contemporary jazz dancer. And if Linda Barron had applied the amount of attention to detail and passion she dedicates to the collision repair business, she’d probably be a world-class artist.
Office manager and co-owner of Ace Body Shop, in its fourth generation in El Paso, Texas, Linda has been keeping the books and working with insurance companies since 1999, when Ace was passed down to her husband Ralph Barron III from his father and grandfather, who founded the shop in 1945.
Linda has been key in helping Ace Body Shop set the standard for collision repair in a challenging market. As her husband and company president Ralph states: “Other DRP shops in El Paso are probably tired of hearing, ‘Why don’t you call Linda and ask her how she gets it done?’”
Linda, who was nominated for a FenderBender Award last year, explains some of her strategies for forming good relationships with insurance companies and how it’s made her (and the business) successful.
Find the Right DRP
With years of experience under her belt, Linda has become adept in identifying insurance companies that are as organized as she is. Communication is key in relating to the insurer just how capable and diligent she is when it comes to writing estimates.
“We look for a DRP that is willing to let us write our own estimates without too many restrictions, that will trust our decisions based on the best way to repair a vehicle, that will fairly compensate us for the work we do for them, and that will consult with us about any changes instead of not negotiating,” Linda says.
Pay Attention to Details
Part of what makes Linda so successful to begin with is her studiousness and ability to discern the tiniest of factors when observing a vehicle and writing an estimate. It comes with experience, but it also comes with hard work and persistence.
“As my husband puts it, it has to do with my Type A personality, my attention to detail, and how I want everything done perfectly,” Linda says. “I guess I’ve been doing it for so long that I know it like the back of my hand. I can review an estimate and know immediately what’s left off, what hasn’t been done.”
Pay the Bills On Time
Part of Ace Body Shop’s success with insurance companies, according to Ralph, is the shop’s high credit score. Linda says that those three digits play a huge part in how the insurance companies and the public perceive the business.
“Not only do I run the shop, but I do all the bill paying too,” Linda says. “I just know how important credit is. I have a strict schedule for paying bills, making calls, and I stick to it.
“We haven’t always been like this. We had to grow and learn to be more organized, which is key. Keeping your credit score up means people will trust you, consumers will trust you.”
Focus on Cycle Time and Service
Linda understands that insurance companies look to cycle time when conducting business. Part of her management strategy involves improving service and workmanship in order to keep cycle times up.
“These days, you need to do that stuff for insurance companies, but you have to come up with a way to do it effectively,” Linda says. “Basically, the way we improve cycle time is we get all the damage up front—there’s no hidden damage in our estimates. There’s no surprises at the end, which really helps.”
“Of course there’s always those suspension or mechanical issues that are unforeseen. That, and then just working with the estimators so they know exactly what needs to be done on the estimates. It’s a process, and you have to follow the steps of that process the same every time. Again, it’s just a matter of caring and doing it every time, no matter what. I’m good at that.”