Don't lose sight of business basics in this world of change

March 28, 2018
I believe our highest priority should be the safety and security of our customers closely followed by the protection of our businesses and our staff.

This is new to me. I’ve been asked to write a column, starting this issue, about what is important, impactful and what is happening in the world of MSOs. Let me think…there’s the changing rate of consolidation, increased risk of litigation and thus increased importance of factory repair procedures thanks to new technologies and the John Eagle Collision case; scans, calibrations, changing nature of insurance relationships, changing nature of OEM relationships and shop certification, rising repair costs, changing repair procedures thanks to new substrates and construction complexity, increasing insurance premiums, technician shortages and thus rising cost of labor, autonomous vehicles, telematics, changing consumer outlook on transportation, increased accident frequency, predictions of decreased accident frequency, a growing economy, changing regulatory outlook, changing training needs, increasingly larger amounts of data to deal with, changing tax structure, changing claim handling and settlement procedures, increased concerns over security, decreased amount of personal privacy, changing needs of management and leadership, and more. Obviously change is the common theme among all of these. And we won’t run out of topics. 

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In the midst of all this change, I often have to remind myself to not lose sight of the basics. Hiring the best staff possible, a great work culture, exceptional customer service, ample communication, shop safety, efficient and consistent process, financial stability, quality workmanship, leadership, and training continue to be among those key basics that we build our businesses upon. 

At the same time, all the changes around us cannot be ignored but instead must be addressed. If we address them in order and by priority, it becomes less overwhelming. I believe our highest priority should be the safety and security of our customers closely followed by the protection of our businesses and our staff.

As a result, the company I work for has been devoting a great deal of time and effort to making sure we follow factory repair procedures including making certain that the increasing number of high tech and computerized vehicle systems are performing as intended. It has become apparent that pre- and post-repair scans are a critical component to accomplish that. In fact, we have concluded that it is better to scan every collision repair vehicle than to assume (guess) that there may not be a need in specific cases, even though we may not be paid for it. We’ve seen too many cases of high tech issues in small jobs, even including some hail repair jobs, which can only be diagnosed with a scan tool. Its simply part of our changing world. While I find such repair process changes a bit unsettling and very challenging, it is also exciting to be part of this evolution. With change comes new opportunities. 

How are you handling it all? Overwhelmed, or challenged, or motivated, or inspired, or some combination thereof? I truly believe that how we look at it as managers, leaders, or owners will make the difference between throwing up our arms as we run away or reveling in the exciting new challenges and opportunities. It will also make the difference between success and something less. 

A respected leader I work with likes to tell the story of the western Dakotas where both buffalo and cattle habitat the landscape. When storms come from over the mountains in the west cattle are inclined to run away to the east and as a result are exposed to the passing storm even longer. Buffalo run west into the storm and thus minimize their exposure to the passing storm. Similarly, if we address change and our challenges directly and promptly we can minimize the pain of transition and find ourselves in better environment quicker and with less discomfort. A positive attitude and discipline make all the difference. 

About the Author

Darrell Amberson | Director, MSO relations

Darrell Amberson is the president of operations for LaMettry's Collision, a 10-location multi-shop operator in the Minneapolis area. Amberson has more than 40 years of collision industry experience, is interim chairman of the Collision Industry Conference, and served as chairman for the 2021-2022 term.

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