Alright, my friends. Last month I shared two great industry resources with you: OEM1Stop, as well as the new features available through I-CAR’s revamped website. Both are absolutely essential for shops looking for information on how to make safe and proper repairs to OEM specifications.
But there’s another resource I wanted to share with you as well. Like the other two, it’s a website that can help answer your repair and vehicle information inquiries and also solved debates about reimbursements: the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG), found at degweb.org.
Have you heard of it? Great. I know that some of you have. Have you used it? Well, if you answered yes, you’re in the vast minority on that one, because the fact is that hardly anyone is using it right now. And this is both sad and alarming. Just recently the DEG passed 10,000 inquiries. On the day I’m writing this, the DEG is at 10,257; that’s a total number over the course of seven years since the DEG was founded. Seven years, just 10,000 inquiries, and we have more than 32,000 shops in this country. That’s scary math, my friends.
Clearly, there must be reasons for this, right? What I most commonly hear from people is that they are either unaware of the DEG or unaware of why it is a great resource. So, I wanted to use this month’s column to explain the DEG’s purpose and its four primary uses.
A bit of history: The original DEG website was developed based off some work that March Taylor of Auto Body Hawaii had done through the Collision Industry Conference (CIC). Before March passed away in 2007, he volunteered his services to where people could go to the CIC website to ask for something to be changed or clarified in a repair information database. If someone needed a part added or wanted to dispute the labor time on a job, then March was the one-man show that would handle these inquiries, reach out to the provider and get things changed.
After March passed away, industry associations took up the effort, and both the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) served as the primary sponsors of the new DEG site. Today, there’s a full-time person (Arthur Harris) who oversees the site and handles the inquiries.
Now, the nuts and bolts of it: There are four main uses of the site, and each can help you with your daily operations.
1. Add missing parts to a database. If you’re writing an estimate, and there’s a part missing in the database, whether that’s Mitchell, CCC, or Audatex. You can’t find the info you need to order the correct part and finish the job. Well, you can call a dealership, have them send you a photo of the part, and then submit a database inquiry through DEG. Arthur Harris then takes the information and works with the appropriate information provider to get the database corrected.
2. Add missing labor time. Let’s say you’re writing an estimate to replace an exhaust and exhaust heat shield, and you see there’s no labor time listed in the database—but there should be a time. So you’d submit an inquiry on the DEG website. Then Arthur Harris will follow up with the appropriate information provider, and it gets added and you get paid for it in your estimate.
It’s also important to understand that a lot of your structural components are not going to have unique paint labor times. I was repairing a wheel house on a Mini Cooper recently, and we put two hours down to repair the wheel house, but it didn’t give me any time on painting it. I went to the DEG website, and said, “Hey, this wheel house doesn’t have a time,” and Arthur Harris got in touch with CCC and they added 0.8 to paint the wheel house.
3. Change/modify existing labor times. There are often times where a labor time listed in a database simply doesn’t seem to pay enough for a job. You can submit documentation through the DEG site to prove how long it actually takes to try to get it changed. Say it’s for a welded panel, you need to have documentation for the types of welds required, how many welds, what materials are being welded—everything to access that component. All of that will need to be submitted. One of my favorite examples was on a rocker panel on an Audi Q7. Audatex only paid 9.5 hours to weld the rocker in, and we go the time changed to 34.5 hours—25 more hours! (You can look it up; it’s inquiry No. 1373.) Think about this: If we hadn’t taken the time to document the work, submit it through DEG, and get the database changed, there is no way we get reimbursed in full for that labor. Sure, we had to take the steps in doing this, but how much is 25 hours in labor worth to you?
4. Inquiries about included items. This is a huge, huge opportunity to not only benefit your shop’s bottom line, but also save time and energy debating with an insurance partner. If you have a carrier telling you something isn’t included—and you believe that it is—instead of taking the time to argue or search yourself, you can submit an inquiry asking whether it is or not. And you get quick responses. Look through the site, look at the inquiries listed and the response times. Inquiry No. 10234, for example, asking about missing parts on a Jeep Cherokee, the response time is zero days.
I’ve said this many times, my friends, and I’ll keep saying it: There is far too much confusion in this industry; there are far too many arguments and far too much friction. Having objective, factual information available to all parties is the way to end this. This site—the DEG—is free to use for everyone, whether you’re a shop or insurer. Please use it. Let’s start solving these issues, instead of fighting over them. Let’s remove the friction.