Convenience is King
As the editor of a collision repair magazine, my thought process is likely a little bit different from the average consumer when myself or my wife is involved in a fender bender. Not saying we’re in that situation often—we’re great drivers, no doubt—but the couple of times we have had the misfortune of being in an accident, the thoughts surface in this order:
1. Is everyone O.K.?
2. What’s the damage?
3. I hope the other driver is cooperative.
4. Will my insurance company or a shop outside its network win the battle for convenience?
The stress of an accident aside, I actually enjoy the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the claims process—to be in the driver’s seat during this crucial point when a shop is chosen.
As alluded to above, convenience is the top priority for my busy family of four. I want a quality repair, to be treated well, and all of that, sure, but getting on with my life as quickly as possible is No. 1. I can’t say every motorist shares this opinion, but I bet it’s a big factor for most people.
DRP shops obviously have an edge here, as the insurance company is usually the first point of contact after an accident and the push to use a network shop is strong. But there’s opportunity for any shop to win customers, as long as a shop’s marketing is strong enough to make it part of the conversation when it’s time for a customer to take action. If a shop isn’t top-of-mind, it will likely miss out, but that’s a different conversation. I want to focus on the point of decision. Here’s a real example:
My wife was in a minor accident in May and through the insurance company, scheduled a claims center appointment two days out to have her 2008 Subaru Tribeca looked at. But the vehicle had significant front-end damage, including a busted driver’s side headlight, so I didn’t think it was a great idea to wait that long.
An area shop offered to pick up the vehicle that night and get my wife in a loaner car right away. The insurance company fought back, saying the shop wasn’t on its network and it could be two weeks before a representative was able to get there. But with a loaner vehicle available right away, I wasn’t concerned about the wait. The shop won the convenience battle.
This isn’t just a lesson for non-DRP shops. Any shop can win if they stay in front of customers and are willing to make a serious effort to get their lives back on track quickly after an accident. What does your shop do to win customers?
Jake Weyer, editor