“Who Pays for What?” survey finds increase in shops charging OEM procedures research fee

Jan. 8, 2018
A small but growing percentage of shops report being paid an administrative fee for researching OEM information, according to the most-recently released data from the “Who Pays for What?” surveys.

A small but growing percentage of shops report being paid an administrative fee for researching OEM information, according to the most-recently released data from the “Who Pays for What?” surveys conducted by Collision Advice and CRASH Network.

The first of the four 2018 “Who Pays for What?” surveys, which focuses on not-included refinish operations, is open now through the end of January by clicking here.

This past fall’s survey found that 11 percent of shops said they are paid an administrative fee for OEM procedure research “always” or “most of the time” by the top eight-largest auto insurers. This was up from 7 percent in the same survey a year earlier, and up from just 6 percent in the 2015 survey. Even taking the surveys’ margin-of-error into account, this indicates some growth in the percentage of shops being paid such a fee when they conduct the research and include the fee on an invoice.

The percentage of shops saying they have never billed an administrative fee for OEM research also has declined from about 76 percent in 2015 to about 70 percent in the latest survey.

Mike Anderson of Collision Advice said that even apart from subscription fees, there are real costs associated with researching information.

“I’m seeing the typical amount of total sales a single estimator can handle decline, because the estimating process continues to become more complex, including research of OEM repair information,” Anderson said. I’m starting to see a few shops with an employee doing nothing but scanning vehicles and researching OEM repair procedures. I think it will be interesting to watch what shops report about billing and being paid for this moving forward.”

In addition to asking about administrative fees for OEM research, re-keying estimates and processing total losses, the October survey, asked shops about their billing practices – and insurers’ payment practices – regarding a variety of shop supplies, such as seam-sealer and acid brushes.

It also gathered information from more than 700 shops across the country about aluminum repair rates, vehicle scanning and sublet mark-up. More than 87 percent of those taking the survey reported that participating in “Who Pays for What?” surveys is helping them improve their business.

The current survey focuses on refinish procedures and includes some all-new questions to offer the industry even more helpful information; shops can take the survey before the end of January by clicking below:


Survey participants receive a report with complete survey findings at no charge, broken down by region, insurer and DRP vs. non-DRP. The report also includes analysis and resources to help shops better understand and use the information presented.

Anderson said the survey, which will take about 15-30 minutes, should be completed by the shop owner, manager or estimator who is most familiar with the shop's billing practices and the payment practices of the largest national insurers. Each shop's individual responses are held in the strictest confidence; only aggregated data is released.

The results of previous surveys are also available online (https://www.crashnetwork.com/collisionadvice).

Collision Advice (www.CollisionAdvice.com) is an independent training and consulting firm featuring some of the most respected and experienced experts in the collision repair industry. CRASH Network (www.CrashNetwork.com) is a subscription newsletter offering news and information not available from other industry sources.

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