• A Word to the Body Repair Industry

    Jeff Williams, Previous Chairman of AMBRA

    The Capricorn Collision Repair Conference held in Melbourne on the 10th of August was an excellent event. Congratulations must go to Rob Mildenhall of Capricorn and his team for initiating and organising the event, and to the sponsors.

    Jeff Williams hires

    International keynote speaker, Mike Anderson of Wagonwork Collision Centres and the current owner of Collision Advice, was inspirational.  He had the audience well and truly captured and at one stage, I thought we were all going to stand and break into Gospel songs, with not one “MY DOG DON’T DO THAT” and an AMEN to that.

    As an industry in attendance of the event, the message to OEM and the importance in researching correct repair methods before you write the estimate.

    Mike pushed the importance of maintaining OEM procedures and the need for shops to build a culture within their teams. There were also very well-chosen panellists who shared their views on today’s industry landscape.

    Rex Crowther from Paneltalk NZ magazine spoke of how the NZ introduced standard was based on structural and non-structural.  A fantastic move forward, however, still a bit grey as we all have differing opinions on what is structural and what isn’t.

    As I said after we all shouted AMEN! to Mike’s pointed message, the discussion moved onto the Australian shop grading Standards.  I found this very confusing with great support from some manufacturers and more to come, along with support from Capricorn in grabbing the opportunity and leading the way for their Members. For an industry looking to advance its’ cause to repairing cars to the correct standard, yet some believed a need for insurers to advance the standard to be adopted.

    The AMBRA shop grading document, some believe it as a way to raise your hourly rate.  However, as the business owners who were representing the industry on the panel agreed, if you have a verified hourly rate attached to a transparent times guide and are prepared to negotiate with the insurer as per the MVIRI code and current AFCA rulings, then the shop grading program does not come into it.

    AMBRA shop grading was not designed to be used to be the precursor to a rate validation.  AMBRA shop grading was developed by industry for industry, allowing each facility to choose a category that suits their business model rather than force a facility to spend lots money becoming a one size fits all.  Shop owners can elect a chosen category they have the capabilities to repair with training and equipment levels to achieve.

    The time has come for the repair industry to be accountable to itself and not be allowed to be judged on an average repair cost and volumes.  Be judged on repairing vehicles that they have the capabilities to repair using equipment, correct training and applying the OEM repair procedures too.

    Until the industry moves itself forward and puts its destiny into its own hands, insurers will continue to tell repairers to be competitive or we will need to increase premiums.   We all have a duty of care, so we should all play by the same validated grading standard because vehicles will be repaired in the right facility and not just based on a facility giving the best average repair cost or fixed price repairs price.

    We as the industry need to implement the standard by which insurers must abide, maintaining a healthy competitive industry based on like for like, and not as some suggested let the insurer set the standard.


    *The contents of and any opinions contained in this article may not necessarily reflect the opinions of Capricorn Society Ltd.