The Year In Quotes: What the industry was talking about throughout the extraordinary 2020

 

compiled by John Yoswick

 

A year that began ordinarily enough turned into something no one could have expected. Fittingly, this year’s collection of some of the most important, interesting or entertaining quotes heard within the collision industry over the past 12 months starts out with the type of topics most being discussed pre-pandemic, but then takes a turn part way through.

 

“Place your bets, everyone. Which repair standard and whose authority will prevail in the next few years when it comes to vehicle repair? Will it be the insurers’ repair standard, or the OEM’s repair standard?”
– industry consultant Vince Romans, saying in a presentation that “the jury is still out,” on the battle about repair standards among shops, automakers and insurers

 

“There’s a lot of frustration in the industry that instead of being on the ‘leading edge,’ we may have been on the ‘bleeding edge,’ as we’ve all spent money to become certified without seeing a volume of cars coming in. But my personal opinion is I’m not ready to give up on that strategy. I would hate to have my centers chasing that bus instead of being on it.”
– Marty Evans, chief operating officer of the Certified Collision Group, speaking early in the year about the lack of return on investment in automaker shop certification programs

 

“They are our procedures on how to properly repair that vehicle. Recommended or required? I wouldn’t fix a car without them. I wouldn’t put a piece of furniture together without the procedures. I wouldn’t assemble a bicycle without the how-to. In our world, ‘recommend’ or ‘required’…those words don’t exist. They just are the repair procedures on how to fix the car. I hope this is the last discussion we have on this issue.”
– John Eck of General Motors, expressing exasperation that the topic of whether OEM procedures and position statements are “recommended” or “required” was raised at yet another industry event

 

“It’s obvious that for the newest vehicles with ADAS, [scanning] is going to be part of a proper repair procedure. Hopefully the repairers aren’t seeing a lot of disagreement around that any more. I’m not saying you’re always going to get pre- and post-repair scanning on your estimate. But I think most of the time, people who are using a degree of common sense [know when] it is a value-added procedure. If my truck came into your shop, and it needed a rear bumper, do we need to put the additional expense of a pre- and post-repair scan on that particular truck? I’d like to think we can think about this logically.”
– Clint Marlow of Allstate, indicating his 2008 Ford F-150 has little technology necessitating a pre- or post-repair scan for that type of repair

 

“I just pulled up [the 2008 Ford F-150] and there are actually 27 different initializations and resets and synchronizations that your truck is supported with. Rather than a [model] year being the driving force [in the decision whether to scan], maybe it’s the [OEM] operations and the impact [to the vehicle] that says, ‘Clint’s truck has tire pressure monitoring affected, and there’s a scan tool step for that.’ My point is, there are [scanning-related] steps with those cars, too.”
– Jake Rodenroth of asTech, responding to Allstate’s Marlow

 

“If your family needs some cash so you’re driving for Uber or Lyft, [safe repairs] might not be the first thing you have in mind as long as the car is blowing and going. We think with new vehicle technologies, somebody needs to be looking at these vehicles. Not just post-repair inspection, but also some type of annual or biennial vehicle safety inspection.”
– Bob Redding, national lobbyist for the Automotive Service Association (ASA), on the need for states to maintain – or launch –vehicle safety inspection programs

 

“As you write your factory repair procedures, I’m asking you to write them in a more generic form for a broader base. I’m sure they were originally intended for experienced technicians who have a certain amount of intuition and can work their way through it. In today’s world, we’re having to show factory repair information in order to get paid for things. In some extreme cases, those procedures are even being used as a tool against us to not pay for something, if there’s not clarity. So I’m asking the vehicle manufacturers to help us. Put that clarity in there so that even a lay insurance person who doesn’t know a lot about the technology can read a repair procedure and understand what is really necessary.”
– Darrell Amberson of LaMettry’s Collision in Minnesota, drawing applause for his plea to automakers at an industry event

 

“They can’t spend enough time on those top five skill sets because they’re introducing welding, frame straightening and estimating, which really isn’t a need for an entry-level technician.”
– Gene Lopez, co-chairman of the Collision Industry Conference “Education and Training Committee,” proposing that a focus on a smaller core of fundamental skills that the industry expects of entry-level technicians could expand the pool of collision repair training programs in schools

 

 

“No impact that I can tell, but there has been a lot of available productive time spent talking about the virus.”
– Wyoming shop owner responding in mid-March to a survey about what business impact the COVID-19 pandemic was having

 

“We usually get 19 estimates a day; we are now averaging one. The streets of Seattle are like Sunday morning volume.”
– Washington state shop owner, responding the same survey in late March

 

“Nineteen employees furloughed for 60 days.”
– Dominic Martino of Gold Coast Auto Body in Chicago, responding to the same survey in April

 

“Dealers are running on skeleton crews [and] it’s almost impossible to get a live person [on the phone].”
– Marco Grossi of Collision Craftsmen in Shelby Township, Mich., on the difficulty of getting parts ordered or delivered in the early days of the pandemic

 

“We could stay open with present volume, but we will not risk the health of employees. We will close temporarily starting tomorrow.”
– Paul Van Aken of Paul’s Quality Collision in Monroe, Mich., in a survey response in early April

 

“Insurance companies are telling customers to wait a few weeks if their car is drivable because of parts [issues] and because shops are closing.”
– Steve Hardee, owner of Collision Specialists in Jackson, Tenn., worried in April that drivers weren’t getting the message that most shops remained open as “essential businesses”

 

“No repairs scheduled for three weeks, despite having two DRPs and being in the same location for 35 years.”
– Jeffrey McDowell of Leslie’s Autobody in Fords, N.J., in mid-April

 

“The action also reflects the heightened risk that the company will incur much higher cash interest costs as part of a refinancing transaction such that it meaningfully constrains its future investment capacity and free cash flow generation long-term."
– Charlie O’Shea of Moody’s Investor Service, in announcing in late April that Moody’s was downgrading the credit rating of the collision repair chain Service King to a designation it gives companies that are “judged to be speculative of poor standing and are subject to very high credit risk”

 

“We are taking all income we receive for ‘COVID-19 disinfecting’ and donating it to local shelters, businesses and food assistance programs.”
– Adam Reiter of Golden’s Paint & Body Shop in Hot Springs, Ark., responding to an industry survey in May

 

“For whatever reason, in our area we’re usually about 30 to 45 days behind other businesses. March and April and May were down 15 percent or 20 percent, but all of a sudden in June, it went down to 50 percent.”
– Tim Cockrell, owner of two Cockrell’s Body Shop locations in Alabama, back in July

 

“We recognize that the requirements and processes we had laid out…are extremely labor intensive and vehicle invasive. So we’ve been reviewing that process and document since January.”
– GM’s Eck, saying back in July that the automaker is reviewing its published requirements for inspections that it says must be completed “after any collision,” include inspection of the steering wheel and column, the instrument panel mounting points and brackets, and seat and seat belt mounting points

 

“We’ve tried to find exactly how it’s getting there, and every time we think we know, we find out that we’re wrong, that it’s not the right path. This is exceptionally concerning. It’s concerning not just for collision repairers or the consumers we serve. It should be concerning for every single company that is doing electronic commerce.”
– Aaron Schulenberg of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, speaking of sporadically reported incidents of shop data from estimates or parts orders relative to a particular vehicle seemingly resulting in an entry on CARFAX or another history report for that vehicle

 

“Mitchell has never…shared any data with CARFAX, and we have no plans to and never will. Anything on a U.S. claim or repair that showed up on CARFAX, I can assure you, did not and will not come from Mitchell.”
– Jack Rozint, a senior vice president at Mitchell International, following similar declarations in late 2019 from CCC Information Services and Entegral

 

“While it may provide the appearance of advantages to consumers in the form of convenience, we believe it will lead to lower appraisals and more friction in the interaction between the industry segments, and really believe consumers are best served by a process that allows for trained professionals to thoroughly inspect and identify the damages in person.”
– SCRS’ Schulenburg, voicing concern that virtual appraisals will remain ‘the new normal’ post-pandemic, despite potentially leading to inadequate settlement amounts and failure to alert drivers to potentially unsafe vehicle conditions

 

“Because that end-purchaser of our services, and the end-purchaser of insurance, in all other aspects of his or her life, is buying more digitally. I think as an industry we need to be prepared for that, and adapt and take advantage of the accelerated pace of change in customer behaviors.”
– Michael Macaluso, group president of Driven Brands’ collision segment (which includes CARSTAR, Macco, ABRA and Fix Auto USA), on the likely continued shift to photo-based estimating and virtual claims handling given how the pandemic has changed consumers’ buying habits and expectations for a digital, contactless experience

 

“I’m a believer in DRPs as an effective way to do business. I know not everyone feels that way, but I do. So I’m kind of blown away when a carrier doesn’t recognize what they are supposed to bring to the table. Many of them seem to be overzealously focused on having a robust [number of] access points for their customers. So much so that they bring almost no value to the body shop getting only three to five cars a month. You’ll just never be ‘real’ to a body shop with that level of volume. If I was guiding a VP of claims, I’d say: The carriers that deliver real volume are the ones that will get really active and motivated trading partners. A lot of them don’t get that because they spread their volume so thinly.”
– Richard Fish, owner of six Fix Auto USA franchises in Southern California

 

“A part restriction process really creates a challenge for us from a distribution perspective. We need to be cognizant of the impact on cycle time when we do this, and the results of that. It causes a manual process both for us internally as well as for our dealers. That being said, we will continue to evaluate a restrictive part program, but we can’t make any promises right now as it relates to that.”
– Chris Blackmore of General Motors, when asked whether the automaker would limit the sale of more structural parts to only GM-certified shops

 

“Probably in [the first quarter of 2021], you will see State Farm’s repair facility locator include information about repairers who have OEM certification credentials. We believe that’s what our customers are asking for, and that’s what we’re going to give them.”
– State Farm’s Chris Evans

 

“It’s been quite evident during this COVID period that miles driven is probably a [secondary] driver of the collision industry. Probably the better one is congestion. Because miles driven has returned to levels that are probably 5 to 10 percent below previous levels, largely across the country, with distinct regional differences. But collision claims volume is not at that level. It’s still below that.”
– Rex Green, global co-head for the automotive aftermarket group at investment bank Jefferies, LLC, speaking in November about changes in driving patterns reducing the morning and afternoon commutes, leading to a more severe drop in claims counts than in the overall vehicle miles traveled