Members of the Automotive Service Association’s Collision Division Operations Committee, board of directors and staff met with staff members of State Farm Insurance Sept. 27 in Bloomington, Ill.Like this article? Sign up to receive our weekly news blasts here.
The meeting continued discussions started previously by the participants concerning State Farm’s electronic parts ordering pilot currently being tested in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Tucson, Ariz.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Charlotte, N.C. It is scheduled for further testing in the Chicago metropolitan area by the end of 2012.
ASA participants in the meeting stressed repairers’ core concerns, which center around parts profit, administration, agreement expectations and data collection.
State Farm participants acknowledged ASA’s concerns and said they appreciated the level of accuracy ASA has provided to the industry so far in reporting on the pilot. State Farm’s representatives at the meeting also expressed a willingness to continue conversation with ASA’s collision leaders to address repairer concerns.
As part of last week’s onsite discussion, State Farm provided an in-depth look at why State Farm is piloting an electronic parts ordering application. “Why’s” included State Farm’s analysis of repair delays related to parts ordering, relating a $43 million-per-day expense for rental vehicles, and details on State Farm’s future expectations for the overall collision industry, based on a decline in driver’s license registration, increased crash avoidance technology, ride-sharing and claim frequency.
According to State Farm, “Electronic parts sourcing and ordering is one of many efforts State Farm is pursuing to provide customers with an exceptional experience. Customers and repair facilities benefit from efforts to repair more vehicles (less total losses), improve the distribution of quality recycled parts and improve cycle time.”
Hearing this, the ASA repairers provided questions centered around the inefficiency of the current State Farm system of “priced perfect” recycled parts and how this is to be addressed in the future. The ASA team also raised questions about the current decline of claims handling efficiency at State Farm and asked how this is to be addressed.
An important takeaway from the meeting: State Farm officials said the size of the Select Service community is not expected to grow. Another important takeaway for repairers is the fact that this application is not the conclusion of recommendations to come from State Farm to their Select Service shops, but rather a part of a larger global strategy.
During the meeting, ASA representatives also emphasized their concern centering around discounted MSRPs, and the potential negative impacts of this application on a repair shop’s bottom line. State Farm acknowledged this concern, stating: “MSRP pricing has not changed and the margins have not been affected during the test. In fact, the MSRP discount price column has been removed from the tool. State Farm is not collecting data on MSRP discounts.”
State Farm also said – similar to its earlier exploration of parts procurement involving the original equipment manufacturers and OEConnection – it is cognizant of the parts profit concern and, to date, there is no data from the pilot demonstrating that this application is having a negative impact on parts profit. “What is vital here,” said Denise Caspersen, manager of ASA’s Collision Division, “is that ASA continue to press State Farm for data on this point and advocate for greater assurances against any negative impacts on parts profit. It is also vital to get a clear understanding of data collection and the implications of the usage of the data on the repair community.”
The ASA team also discussed State Farm’s use of repairer data and its effect – and implication – on the Select Service scorecard, including the relationship between repairers and their local State Farm claims representatives. According to State Farm, “Repairers are under no obligation to purchase the least expensive part(s). Select Service repairers should continue to balance the scorecard components – quality, efficiency and competitive price – when servicing State Farm customers.” What is critical – and stressed by the ASA repairers at the meeting – is the negative psychological effect of the repairer selecting the appropriate part for the job, and that choice potentially having a negative impact on their Select Service scorecard. This, followed by a conversation between the repairer and the local State Farm claims rep about parts selection after the transaction has occurred, creates greater confusion and mistrust between the repairer and State Farm. At the end of the day, it’s the repairer who is responsible for providing the best possible repair and making judgments on what part to pick, not State Farm.
ASA collision leaders then asked State Farm representatives if ASA were to join others in opposing this pilot today, would that stop advancement of the pilot? State Farm said “No,” this is a pilot and the testing of the application will continue. State Farm officials said, “Because many acknowledge the need for electronic parts sourcing and ordering, State Farm does not see value in stopping this test.”
For ASA to continue to advocate on behalf of repairers while the pilot is in process, it remains vital for the ASA collision leadership to directly convey the concerns of repairers to State Farm and PartsTrader, the third party selected by State Farm to design and be a part of implementation of the electronic parts ordering application. State Farm and PartsTrader have committed to speaking openly with ASA about the pilot, the application and the concerns of repairers.
“As the industry has seen, a ‘no’ to the pilot will not stop it, nor is ‘no’ changing the pilot,” said Caspersen. “It’s not a ‘yes’ from ASA; it’s engagement. And, in order for repairers to bring forth their concerns and negotiate positive outcomes – including a reduction in the two-hour processing time (now lowered to 30 minutes); more efficient integration with the three major estimating systems; additional controls within the quoting process (supplier quote placeholders); and the removal of the discounted MSRP column (our biggest accomplishment to date) – it’s essential that the ASA team continue to address State Farm, PartsTrader and all others willing to participate in analysis of the pilot.”
The association’s work on this important issue is a “team effort” and ASA commends the many ASA collision repair members speaking up on behalf of repairers nation wide. Caspersen said, “It’s not one person speaking to State Farm; what State Farm reps hear from ASA represents the consensus of ASA’s collision repair leaders, all of whom are shop owners and managers.”
Caspersen added, “Accomplishing removal of the discounted MSRP column is a prime example of the importance of repairers being at the table of discussion. I cannot over-emphasize the value of the engagement of the ASA collision leadership – a diverse group of shop owners representing businesses large to small, from independent to MSO, and from non-DRP shops to Select Service shops – as ASA navigates through the piloting of this application.”
ASA will continue to focus on facts, providing accurate information to the industry, engaging with as many parties as possible, and always advocating on behalf of ASA’s collision membership. Additional information will be collected and provided during Automotive Service and Repair Week (ASRW) in New Orleans, Oct. 10-13, 2012.
Collision repairers may share their comments regarding the pilot by contacting Caspersen at [email protected]< /a>.