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CIC: Class A Shop Initiative to Continue, New Revisions to be Presented

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SEATTLE, April 21, 2016—Proposed revisions to the Class A Repair Facility Definitions document developed by the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Definitions Committee will continue, amid continued debate at CIC’s April meeting at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Seattle on Wednesday.

The committee will also present a new draft for consideration at the August CIC meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

The Definitions Committee was charged with revising the document, which is meant to establish guidelines for categorizing shops with the right equipment, capabilities, training and certifications to perform proper repairs. CIC chairman Randy Stabler has repeatedly called the document outdated, especially given its continued use.

The committee came up with revisions that split Class A shops into three categories covering nonstructural/cosmetic repairs, structural repairs, and shops performing structural repairs involving advanced materials and techniques.

Upon its presentation, the proposed revisions were the subject of fiery debate at January’s CIC meeting in Palm Springs and continued to dominate discussion Wednesday in Seattle.

Definitions Committee chairman Ron Guilliams started the discussion by conceding that although he may not have taken feedback as seriously in the past, the committee has spent the last three months soliciting additional feedback from participants that want to eliminate the document. The committee reached out to key stakeholders for their opinions, he said, as well as created a survey for industry members to voice their opinions. The survey received more than 300 responses, 60 percent of which indicated they did not believe CIC should move forward with revising the document.

Through those conversations, Guilliams said the committee was warned against operating in a vacuum, and as such, he called for more dialogue and an open debate. Guilliams said that the conversations with opposing stakeholders also made it clear that the cosmetic segmentation must be removed from the document and dropping the term “Class A” itself is also under consideration.

A point of conversation continued to be the use of the Class A document by some insurance companies to determine DRP qualifications, which attendees saw as an example of the potential for the definitions to be misused.  

“The designations are things that could be used contrary to how they’re intended to the disadvantage of the people who could be working the hardest to make this industry the greatest,” said Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, who suggested “minimum considerations of a collision repair business” as an alternative.

Other attendees argued that CIC was not the right body to carry out this work, and that the document would become quickly outdated once again. Some attendees called for the document to be eliminated altogether.

Nonetheless, Stabler said that there are proponents of the document.

“While we have spirited debate here on the floor, quietly, people come to me and say, ‘Hey, this is good. We need to have this document,'” he said. “They don’t want to speak up here, for some reason.”

Erick Bickett, CEO of Fix Auto USA, noted that he felt walking away from revising the document would be a missed opportunity.

“I came away from [the January meeting] thinking, ‘What a shame that we’re afraid to represent the industry and have a dialogue that could have some value,’” he said. “I think to walk away and not do anything leaves the old document out there in public domain. It’s a missed opportunity for this body to provide that feedback and tool that has proven value in years past.”

Guilliams concluded the discussion by saying that the committee will review the feedback and plans to have another draft ready for the August CIC meeting in Anaheim, at which point CIC participants will be able to vote on accepting or rejecting the revisions.

Other topics discussed at CIC:

  • Sam and Richard Valenzuela, founders of National AutoBody Research, presented on their company’s Variable Rate System and labor rate surveys. To date, 2,672 shops nationwide have participated in the surveys.
  • Clint Marlow, auto claim director at Allstate Insurance and chair of the Insurer-Repairer Relations Committee, gave an update on the refresh of the committee. The committee is made up of five insurers, 11 repairers, five information providers and five industry consultants. Marlow said the next steps are identifying primary ways each entity provides value to the other and development of a “considerations for your B2B relationship” document for distribution.
  • Fred Iantorno, executive director of CIECA, gave a presentation on the value of BMS (business message suite) in parts procurement. Iantorno said this is where the true dollars lie for repairers—the backend of procurement, specifically the invoicing, statements, rejections and remittance. Iantorno said the next step is developing an ROI calculator to prove the dollar and times savings. He called for any volunteers to help develop the calculator, which could be done in as little as two months.
  • Chris Northup, co-chair of the Parts and Materials Committee, presented on OEM price-matching, specifically looking at the definitions of alt-OE, as used by estimating platforms. Northup said this is an issue that affects every market in the country. The issues, he said, stem from how estimating platforms categorize these parts and the lack of consistency, where the parts are sourced from, how they affect the supply chain and if supplier submissions are properly vetted for quality. Both collision repair and OEM attendees indicated this is a topic that should be reviewed by the Definitions Committee, as there was significant confusion surrounding the definition.

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