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Michael Quinn on Data Privacy and Aftermarket Parts

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Michael Quinn, co-founder of 911 Collision Centers in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., has been a prominent leader in the collision repair industry for years. He serves as director-at-large for the National Auto Body Council (NABC), and was recently elected as the new chairman of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC). Quinn will serve a two-year term in the position, beginning in January 2011.

FenderBender’s Andrew Johnson visited with Quinn about the new perspective he will bring to the CIC, and some of the visions he has for the conference.

Why do you want to be chairman of the CIC?

Frankly, it’s an honor just to be considered for the position, let alone actually get elected to serve. I believe my organizational experience with the NABC—and involvement with Recycled Rides and the First Responder Emergency Extrication program—give me a unique perspective to lead the CIC into the future.

The collision industry has a lot of challenges right now, and we have opportunities to work on those. The CIC chair can create new committees, address new issues, and bring forward speakers and experts to discuss new information coming to the industry.

What is CIC’s image in the industry, and how do you think you might influence that?

CIC is a conference that discusses important issues—it doesn’t make any decisions on behalf of the industry. I’ve been doing some research through conversations with many industry leaders. One of the most interesting comments I got back was, “CIC is not the Supreme Court.” I think there are some people who truly believe that we are the Supreme Court. But we don’t make any decisions—we try to bring issues forward, build consensus, find solutions where possible, and then deliver that to the industry.

As the industry continues to change, and as technology
continues to come into our industry, we will need to
embrace these issues and deal with the challenges.

Some people say the CIC constantly argues about the same things. Another comment I’ve heard several times is, “I could not attend CIC for five years and the [CIC] will still be discussing the same things.” It’s important for us to realize that people have that perception. My goal is to try to help bring forth some new and pertinent issues and build understanding on how they may affect the industry moving forward.

What do you see as some of the new up-and-coming issues within the industry?

There’s some interesting technology and advancements in vehicles that we need to be aware of, look closely at and identify how they’re going to impact our industry. An example is telematics, which is basically the electronic fingerprint of a vehicle. There’s a lot of information coming out with GPS and various electronic devices.

Insurers have a lot of interest in that arena regarding first notice of loss. They want to be informed immediately if one of their policyholders was involved in an accident. They can be informed of that through the deployment of an airbag in a vehicle, for example. Right now, that is available through services like OnStar.

One day we’re going to see handheld devices in shops that will alert managers immediately about a job coming into the shop. It will inform shop operators about the type of car coming in, what kind of damage it has, and provide an estimated time of when the job will arrive at the shop. That’s going to happen. The whole telematics arena is very exciting.

Data privacy seems to be a hot issue right now. What’s got your attention there?

Data privacy is an important issue and we have to ensure there is balance between the needs of our industry and the privacy of the consumer. Information regarding vehicle repairs will inevitably be transparent to consumers in the future.

Is this flow of information good or bad for repair shops? 

As the industry continues to change, and as technology continues to come into our industry, we will need to embrace these issues and deal with the challenges.

Someone once told me, “If I’m buying a used car, I want to know everything that happened to that car. I want to know if the bumper cover was replaced, let alone if there’s structural damage. But if I’m selling my car, I don’t want anyone to know anything.”

The reality is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. We live in an [increasingly] transparent society. For repairers, this is a good thing. When a damaged car comes in for repair, this information will allow repairers to know whether the vehicle has been in a previous accident, and allows them to pull up past records of repairs on that car. That information can be beneficial to the industry.

Sounds like telematics will be a new conversation you start at CIC, and data privacy is one you will continue. What other CIC discussions will you continue?

The progress in a number of the CIC committees has been very beneficial. There is work of several committees that I plan to continue to move forward: the Data Privacy Taskforce, Standards Committee, Public Relations Committee, Insurance Relations Committee, and Trade Practices Committee.

There was significant debate over the aftermarket parts issue at the CIC meeting last July. How do you plan to address this?

The aftermarket parts discussion will continue because we need to find a resolution. There have been some challenges, tough discussions and heated debate around the parts issue. And that’s good because we want to cover all aspects of the issue and get everybody’s side of the story.

Aftermarket parts vendors are looking at certification, and implementing true certification programs. We need to have competition in the marketplace, but my concern is with standardization. Diamond Standard has a standard, Keystone has their own crash facility and they have a standard, and there’s CAPA. It’s insane; there’s three entities out there testing parts, not to mention the OEs. How are repairers to identify the quality part? Is it the CAPA certified part, is it the Keystone Platinum Plus part, or is it the Diamond Standard part? Which one should repairers use?

I believe everything should fall under the same organization and meet the same standard rather than having competing standards organizations. I plan to push for more clarity on that issue.

You personally have worked hard on developing insurer-shop relationships in committee. How have things improved?

I believe the industry is finally seeing some positive change in those relationships. I’ve been starting to see that over the past three or four years now. Insurers today understand more of the challenges shops have and understand the need for a healthy repair environment.

For years, there was a lot of pushback between insurers and body shops. I remember when I was a kid, my mother would say “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” I knew as a manager and repairer early on that I had to look for efficiencies internally, and had to clean my side of the street, so to speak. With the economy the way it is, and competition as fierce as it is, it’s a challenging time for every facet of the industry. Insurers and repairers have to continue finding ways to help each other.

Since the CIC is just a forum to discuss issues, how much weight do CIC discussions bring to the industry?

It carries a lot of weight because all the industry stakeholders and leadership are represented at CIC, and their opinions and voices are heard.

You’ll have your work cut out for you as the leader of the CIC. To take on this role, what concessions might you have to make as a shop owner?

I will lean more heavily on my team, and leave the business in their hands. We have structure within our organization that allows me to not be there. My business partner, the chief operations officer, runs the daily operations. It’s a sacrifice, but chairing the CIC is a large commitment. I’m blessed to have a tremendous team and a partner who affords me the opportunity to serve and improve our industry.

What value do you think your experience as a shop owner will bring to the CIC?

All the past chairs have brought a unique perspective through their connection to the industry. The current chair, Russell Thrall, has done a tremendous job bringing new issues to light during his two-year term.

Repairers bring a unique leadership perspective because we are the people who see the client. We meet, communicate and interact with the consumer. We have direct experience and see the challenges in claims processing, for example. I believe it’s greatly beneficial and important for repairers to participate in CIC leadership.

What energizes you most about becoming the CIC chairman?

I’m most excited about some of the new areas—like new technology—that we will address. There’s a whole new frontier out there on how repairs will be reported, how vehicles will be brought to the shop, how consumers will be updated, and how the communication between insurers and repairers will be streamlined. All of this will be electronic, and I’m really excited to see that unfold.

I’m also looking forward to working with stakeholders and leaders within all segments of the industry. That is an honor and an exciting part of the job. 

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