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NACE/CARS MSO Symposium Preview: Insurer Panel

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This year’s MSO Symposium, scheduled for Aug. 11 as part of the 2016 NACE/CARS Expo & Conference in Anaheim, Calif., will include a new panel discussion featuring representatives from four of the country’s largest insurance carriers—State Farm, Allstate Insurance, Progressive and Farmers Insurance. Marcy Tieger of Symphony Advisors LLC will moderate the hour-and-a-half panel, which will include topics on DRP strategies, the evolution of self-managed programs, how telematics is changing the industry and a 30-minute question-and-answer segment with the audience.

Just like the symposium itself, the panel is geared toward MSOs, and as Tieger shared with FenderBender, it is essential for anyone running a multiple-facility business in today’s industry.

What are the benefits to MSO owners and operators attending this panel?
The members of this panel—executives from four of the country’s largest insurance companies—are all passionate about the industry and are committed to making the automotive aftermarket a more cooperative environment. They are all sensitive to the different pressures placed on today’s repairers, whether they are small or large MSOs.

Are there any trends that you think will pop up during the panel?
I think one of the big issues is going to be the ongoing tension about OE certified repairs and what changes, if any, insurers will need to make to in order to make sure they have the capability to identify the requirements of their customers’ cars and be sure their DRP network consists of repairers who have the qualifications to complete the repairs. Also, there is the issue of telematics and how work is directed, since manufacturers now have the ability to direct work at the moment of the accident to their own network of shops. And there are apps that allow insurers to do the same thing.

What will MSO operators take away from the panel?
Our goal is to not only look at what will be happening with the larger MSOs, but what smaller MSOs and independents can expect. The discussion will look at the role that MSOs of various sizes will play as insurers refine their DRPs. The panel will examine where different sized businesses will fit. For example, smaller MSOs may need to make choices about specialization and certification as they are less likely to have the resources and bandwidth that larger MSOs have. We will also be exploring how insurers evaluate MSOs. For example, what impact an underperforming shop within an MSO has on the treatment of the overall enterprise.

What advice would you give to MSOs to improve their relationships with insurers?
You need to be performance driven. You should be able to show the metrics that are most important to insurers: speed (cycle time), price, and customer service. Also, know what is important to the insurer you are working with and recognize that it may change over time. For instance, aftermarket parts usage may be very important to one insurer, but not nearly as important to another. Owners that are looking to increase volume or enter into a new relationship with an insurer need to be prepared to show, in a tangible and objective way, why their shop is superior. While this is still a relationship-driven industry, a relationship will only get you a meeting. If you don’t have the data to back up your claims. For instance, some shops will only keep track of CSI because a particular insurance company asks them to. Then, for whatever reason, that relationship ends and the shop stops keeping track of CSI. Shops should always be aware of how they are doing with CSI, whether to build confidence with their insurance partners or with their customers.

Are there any key mistakes that you think MSOs make when working with insurance companies?
As with all business relationships, the biggest enemy of sustainability is complacency—taking relationships for granted. When a relationship is established, it’s easy to move into a more reactive mode rather than a proactive mode. It’s a huge mistake for repairers to not regularly check-in with insurers to see how they are doing. MSOs in particular need to make sure that all of their shops are performing.

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