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Class A Shop Initiative Stalls at CIC

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PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Jan. 14, 2016—Proposed revisions to the Class A Repair Facility Definitions document developed by the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) Definitions Committee were halted at the first CIC meeting of the year after a fiery hour-long discussion at the Palm Springs Hilton on Thursday.

The Definitions Committee was charged with revising the document—meant to establish guidelines for categorizing shops with the right equipment, capabilities, training and certifications to perform proper repairs—one year ago when CIC chairman Randy Stabler called it out as being outdated and inappropriate. The document hadn’t been revisited since 2013, and Stabler’s charge was based on rapidly evolving vehicle design and repair procedures.

At the April CIC meeting in Atlanta, attendees voted to have the Definitions Committee move forward with segmenting the document by shop type. 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 (see the draft here).

But at the July CIC meeting in Las Vegas, a debate broke out about the document’s purpose, how and who would use it, and whether it was necessary or would conflict with OE and third-party certifications. That debate continued in Palm Springs, to the extent that the Definitions Committee’s intention to have CIC attendees vote on proposed changes derailed, putting the document’s future in question.

A recurring point of conversation was the purported 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. It was argued that such misuse could negatively impact quality shops that boast other certifications that don’t fall in line perfectly with the guidelines.   

“I think here’s the challenge: What this does is it creates a designation,” said Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists. “It’s not just what you have or do not have. It creates a designation and that designation will be used to establish equivalency between two things in the future. It will be used in ways that maybe you don’t intend, maybe you do intend, I don’t know, but it will be used in ways that won’t be beneficial because there are already [certifications] that exist in the marketplace.”  

Stabler toward the end of the discussion wanted the Definitions Committee to once again return to the document for further analysis and revision, but committee chairman Chris Evans of State Farm argued that would be fruitless at this point.

“I don’t know what this committee can do to change or adjust the provisions that we’ve prepared,” Evans said. “I think we’ve done what we can. … If there is going to be a Class A, I think the experts in this room have done the best they could to put together a document. I think the only question that remains is, has Class A lived its useful life?”

Stabler tried to organize a vote to determine whether the document should be scrapped, but it was ultimately decided that the decision would be made at the April meeting in Seattle.

Other topics discussed at CIC:

  • The Marketing Committee discussed its ongoing efforts to increase CIC participation and attendee value. Challenges discussed included a lack of new voices and new subject matter. The committee surveyed past and present CIC attendees during the last year to collect data on the issue and is using feedback to recommend topics of interest. The committee also aims to encourage regular involvement from the top 10 insurance companies.  
  • The Parts and Materials Committee hosted a panel of parts procurement vendors, allowing each to spend five minutes addressing common parts procurement issues for shops and suppliers. Key takeaways included the need for integration between platforms and addressing business barriers between stakeholders that can create major obstacles for shops.
  • Attorney Cory King gave a presentation about the need for shops to have policies and processes in place to prevent and address workplace violence. Key points were to have good policies and enforcement, take all threats seriously, have a good relationship with law enforcement, consider restraining orders and have a plan for responding to both threats and violence.

The next CIC meeting is set for April 20–21 in Seattle. For more information go to ciclink.com.   

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