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CIC Hosts Heated Discussion on Electronic Parts Procurement

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ATLANTA, April 9, 2015—On Day 2 of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meetings in Atlanta on Thursday, a five-person panel of collision industry professionals addressed the challenges and improvements they’ve seen in collision businesses due to electronic parts procurement systems.

And, as many might expect, the discussion at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia became heated when the topic of PartsTrader came up.

PartsTrader, the New Zealand–based electronic system, has come under fire in recent years for its mandated use in the State Farm Select Service direct repair program.

Each of the five panelists stated their respective experiences with electronic parts procurement at the beginning of the panel, and nearly all mentioned PartsTrader, specifically.

Clint Rogers of Triangle Collision in Raleigh, N.C., stated that his shop uses PartsTrader for 100 percent of all tickets.

“I think there’s a lot of apprehension on the industry with the PartsTrader program, because people feel it was pushed on us,” he said. “I can tell you our situation, I wanted to give it an honest run. Before I criticized something, I wanted to see how it worked.”

Conversation focused on the PartsTrader system’s operations for several minutes before Aaron Schulenburg of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists addressed Rogers specifically, through an audience microphone.

“People are tired of sitting in this room and fielding commercials,” Schulenburg started. He then went on to ask if Rogers had paid for his own admission to CIC, or whether it was paid for by PartsTrader.

“I have a concern about making sure the panels are there to address information and be very clear,” Schulenburg added.

Rogers responded by saying the accusation was “way off base, and frankly I don’t appreciate it. … I’m not up here to give a commercial. I’m up here to give you my live [opinion] of a product.”

Schulenburg pressed the issue, asking if PartsTrader paid for his admission to which Rogers replied “yeah.”

Trying to defuse the situation, fellow shop owner and panelist Jeanne Silver of CARSTAR Mundelein came to Rogers’ defense.

“Whether paid to come here or not, here’s a fact: He uses a product and he likes it, and to quote Hillary Clinton, ‘What difference does it make,’” said Silver, who herself was critical of the PartsTrader program.

CIC chairman Randy Stabler stepped in a number of times during the first half of the roughly hour-and-a-half-long discussion to get the panel on topic, looking at solutions to create efficiencies in the parts procurement process.

Panelist Ron Reichen of Precision Body & Paint said that the program a shop uses doesn’t matter; electronic ordering is an opportunity to improve efficiency.

“We’ve always been looking for efficiencies,” said panelist Ron Reichen, owner of Precision Body & Paint. “We were using electronic parts ordering eight to 10 years ago. I’m not sure if we’re the exception, but we’ve been doing it for efficiencies.”

Another panelist, industry consultant David Luehr of Elite Body Shop Solutions said there are still hang-ups with a number of the electronic parts ordering programs available. The programs are improving, he said, but are not at a level to where they create large efficiencies in shops yet.

Both Silver and fellow panelist Christy Jones of R Jones Collision 1 said one large frustration is the inability of the systems to link seamlessly to shop management systems.

“Keystrokes cost our business time and money,” Silver said.

All five of the panelists use—or in the case of Luehr, work with shops that do—electronic parts procurement systems in some capacity.

The trend is growing, and more options exist in today’s market than before. FenderBender highlighted the issue in its April feature “Parts Procurement’s New Era.” 

Additional Notes from Day 2

Helping Haiti: Thursday’s meeting kicked off with a powerful presentation about the partnership CIC and the Canadian Collision Industry Forum have formed with Haiti Arise to build a collision repair training facility in Haiti.

Governmental affairs: The CIC governmental committee also presented Thursday, highlighting its initiatives for 2015. One of the main issues the committee will look into this year is the pros and cons about consumer repair referrals, including an in-depth look at the topic from the perspectives of the consumer, the repairer, and the insurer.

The committee plans for this discussion to begin at the next CIC meetings in Detroit in July, and at the SEMA Show meeting in November.

The committee also spoke about the BMS standard on Thursday.

Human resources: California attorney Cory King of the CIC human resources committee gave a presentation on the HR and legal issues surrounding the recent lawsuit filed against Caliber Collision in California.

The case deals with minimum wage issues in regard to flat-rate pay, and King gave a brief overview of its intricacies and how it affects shop owners.

FenderBender spoke with King for a story on the subject that will run in our May issue.

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