The Year In Quotes: Here’s some of what was said around the industry in 2023


compiled by CRASH Network


This past year has been marked by some improvement in parts challenges (at least prior to the United Auto Workers’ strike), technician pay hike pressures, increased need for ADAS-related diagnostics and calibrations, still significant backlogs of work at many shops, increased need for ADAS calibrations, and a potential change to the much-criticized blend formula in the estimating systems.


Here’s our annual round-up of some of the most interesting, important or entertaining quotes heard within the collision industry over the past 12 months.


“It’s now rare for us not to have both a catalytic converter theft claim, and a recovered Kia or Hyundai in the shop most days. A lot of the older Kias and Hyundai total out because of the steering column damage, and the cars often aren’t in that great shape to begin with, but the newer ones have become a pretty steady supply of work.”
– Manager of a shop in a Milwaukee suburb said as thefts soared, particularly after social media posts demonstrated how easily some 2021 and older Hyundais and Kias can be hot-wired)


“It fluctuates from manufacturer to manufacturer, but overall we’re seeing fewer delays. Not drastic change, but fewer.”
– Frank Rinaudo of Frank’s Accurate Body Shop in Slidell, Louisiana, speaking of parts challenges early in 2023, in a survey that found 40 percent of shops said they were experiencing fewer parts challenges in recent months than they had during late 2021


“What I saw in 2022 was shops beginning to revel in a newfound strength, this newfound ability to perhaps charge for some things that previously they hadn’t been, perhaps have negotiations with insurers at a different [level] that they previously were able to. Caution, shops: The halcyon days won’t be here forever. So it’s how you treat your partners now, creating strategic aligned business objectives, that will determine how successful you are into the future.”
– Industry consultant Sean Carey, president of SCG Management Consultants


“As a technician who has been doing it for 20 years, I cannot take the car from start to finish anymore. You would be crazy to think you could. I know my limitations. I’m a structural guy. I need a team to do 1, 2, 3, before I can even touch the car, because that stuff is not in my wheelhouse.”
– Technician Kevin West of Nylund’s Collision Center in Englewood, Colorado, speaking of the specialization occurring in technician work


“Think of a USAA, that insures 5-star generals. Think of a Geico that insures government employees. What are their expectations of shops within their network to maintain the privacy of those individuals? Would they want that information shared in this manner under the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China? I don’t know. But it seems like it’s worth talking about as an industry.”
– Aaron Schulenburg of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), after it was discovered that under the terms of the licensing agreement of at least one aftermarket scan tool, the user was agreeing to allow the data collected through the tool to be transferred to the company in China (the terms have since been updated)



“I’m not looking for an A-tech who is going to do the job from start to finish. I found it’s a lot easier to start someone in disassembly. You can pull in tire mechanics, or anybody who is mechanically inclined. Because most of the jobs are 75 percent disassembly and reassembly. You can have an A-tech guiding them. Even if they get a better offer at another shop, at least I’m bringing more people into the industry. If we can all do that, then we’re going to have an influx of people.”
– Keith Hamm of AutoCraft Collision in Paso Robles, California, saying he’s no longer looking for experienced technicians to fill any openings at his 10-employee shop


“Throughout the first quarter of 2023, MOTOR reviewed information from multiple sources and has concluded that the current formula reflects an estimate for one particular scenario but does not necessarily reflect the many variations encountered with modern vehicle finishes and design. Given the variations among scenarios today, MOTOR believes that [blend time] should defer to the judgment of an estimator or appraiser following an on-the-spot evaluation of the specific vehicle and refinish requirements in question.”
– John McDonald, MOTOR’s product portfolio manager, announcing that users of CCC Intelligent Solutions’ estimating system (which is based on the MOTOR database) will have the option to input their own refinish blend time or set their own default blend value


“That’s an adjustment based on the conversations, the data and the effort.”
– SCRS’ Schulenburg on the change to the blend formula options provided by CCC (and later, Audatex) estimating system, based in part on an SCRS study in 2022 that the association believes demonstrated that blending takes more time than a full panel refinish, rather than the 50 percent less time that has been allocated in the three major estimating systems


“My concern is that we all lose that trust with that customer. They see a $1,000 photo estimate turn into a $20,000 blueprint. The trust is lost. The customer knows somebody is lying to them. They just don’t know who. We can’t continue to go down this path. Fundamental change has to happen. We have to get away from the archaic ways that we’ve been doing things for 30 years. Everyone is frustrated. No one is winning. So let’s agree we have to change the process.”
– Virginia shop owner Barry Dorn of the current processing of supplements


“We do about 14 million claims a year in this industry, and according to CCC statistics, 60 percent of those have a supplement. In my opinion, that’s not acceptable. We’ve got to come together and figure this out. The consumer is unhappy. Shops are wasting their time. Insurers’ personnel are wasting their time. All it takes is for us to get together and figure out how to fix a broken process that’s costing this industry more than $3 billion a year. I challenge this body, the insurers, the shops and everybody in this room to find a way to get together and fix this problem. Because it’s only getting worse, not better.”
– Frank Terlep, chairman of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC)


“They can’t control severity. Severity is biproduct of the technology we have today and the complexity of the car. So what’s important to the insurance executives is controlling [claims processing] costs. That means finding a way to handle claims faster – not necessarily better, but faster. Unfortunately it’s caused this [supplement] dilemma we have that’s gotten worse.”
– Consultant Roger Wright, a former claims executive, offering an insurer’s perspective on supplements


“Some do a really good job of handling claims, paying claims quickly. Others are terrible. The consumer certainly has to shop around. But again, anything you bring to the attention of regulators, if you give it to our office and say, ’We’ve noticed this, this is the documentation we have,’ we’ll get our folks on it and investigate it and try to get to the bottom of it.”
– North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey on the disparity he sees among insurance companies


“I also hired an experienced tech who about a year later said, ’Zac, if you wouldn’t have hired me, I was on my way out of this industry.’ As much as we need to build and raise new technicians, we also have to keep in mind that some good senior technicians are abused by shops. They may be a great technician and contributor to the industry, but the [A-tech I hired] was an example of a guy who was on his way out. He just wasn’t happy with his experience at a different shop.”
– Zac Yates of Yates Body Shop in Montana, offering his take on the technician shortage


“It’s painful. I’m not going to lie. Is it getting better? It is. We’ve seen a back-order decrease of about 30 percent since the beginning of the year. So we’re getting some relief, but it is difficult.”
– Kelli Doherty, independent aftermarket collision manager at GM, said, speaking in May of the improved parts supply


“If you have a good company, so to speak, that pays, you want to keep that good company paying well. They need to see that you are always demanding the same thing no matter who the carrier is. Because they’re going to be looking at documents in subrogation, and you don’t want them to see, ‘Oh, well, you charged us for this but you didn’t charge that other insurance carrier for that.’“
– Ohio attorney Erica Eversman suggesting that shops bill consistently, irrespective of whether the job is self-paid or paid for by any insurer


“There’s not a business surrounding me in the room today that hasn’t felt the pressure to perform a repair that would otherwise undercut what the consumer deserves. There’s not a business here who isn’t routinely asked to perform repairs in a manner that conflicts with their professional expertise and their commitment to the vehicle owner.”
– SCRS’ Schulenburg, testifying at a Washington (state) Insurance Commissioner workshop focused on the record number of consumer complaints about auto claims being filed with the office in recent years


“But I don’t think cycle time is ever going to come back to pre-COVID era [numbers] because vehicles are just too complex and they require too much work in order to get them back to pre-accident condition.”
– Bart Mazurek, vice president of consulting services for CCC, noting this past summer that cycle times had improved this year, but aren’t likely to continue to tick down significantly


“Typically, painters have not had to look at repair procedures. Working with painters, they don’t know how to do that today. ’It’s a simple bumper repair. Get it in, get it painted and get it back on the car.’ That’s the way some shops and painters look at it. We’ve got to change that mentality. Because the painter and shop need to understand what’s behind that bumper. It’s really got to be driven from the front office as part of the repair plan.”
– Jeff Wildman of BASF, cautioning that radar sensors behind bumpers require that repair and refinishing of bumper covers follow OEM and paint company procedures and products


“Most domestic stamping plants are staffed by UAW workers and a ceasing of new panel production will be quickly felt. Conquest pricing for those panels will evaporate and aftermarket demand will increase. If a panel is not produced in the aftermarket, then recycled will be the only alternative if a new OEM panel is not readily available. Both of those market conditions will lead to inflating prices and therefore the overall cost of repair will increase, as could repair cycle time.”
– Greg Horn of PartsTrader in a blog published just before the start in September of a United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three automakers


“As we looked at national implications, especially when it comes to cycle time, we didn’t notice any differences or any uptick in cycle time. Sure, we’d heard some anecdotal information on a regional basis of parts availability issues, but generally speaking, we’ve been told that dealership groups had been stocking up on parts, focusing on the 60-day market. If they could [have] inventories to get through 60 days, there wouldn’t be an impact on cycle time, and I think that’s held firm to date.”
– CCC’s Mazurek, speaking in late October as the UAW strike was ending


“That’s impossible. There’s no way when you present an estimate to know how much an insurance company is going to pay at that point.”
– California Autobody Association lobbyist Jack Molodanof, speaking of a proposed regulation change in that state that would require shop estimates given to consumers include “the amount the insurer or other third-party payor is paying on the claim”


“Across the board, technicians are saying that they would not recommend the career to friends or family. They might be telling them the opposite. The slightly good news is [collision technicians] are less negative than the dealer service techs. They’re not quite as unhappy, but still a negative score.”
– Meredith Collins of Ducker Carlisle, reporting on the findings of a survey, commissioned this year by I‑CAR and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, of more than 800 technicians that found they don’t have a positive “net promoter score”


“ADAS calibration, the digital side of the repair industry, is simply giving this industry organic growth that it didn’t have 10 years ago. Some of the numbers that I’ve seen, some of my clients, are showing in a properly operated shop, 10 percent of revenues can be calibration revenues. And add a hundred basis points, maybe more, to margin. And God bless it. There is just no end to this for the foreseeable future.”
– Rex Green, the managing director of automotive aftermarket investment banking at Jefferies LLC



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