To help dealers get more customer referrals from insurance companies, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. will certify dealership body shops.
Four Toyota dealerships are piloting the program, which is part of Toyota’s strategy to support dealership collision repair, said Roger Foss, Toyota’s national body shop business development and technician recruiting manager.
To become a Toyota Certified Collision Center, a body shop will undergo a two-day on-site evaluation. The shop will be measured on how well it conforms to 10 standards that range from business ethics to safety and environmental compliance. The standards incorporate performance, productivity and profitability.
Weaknesses will be pointed out during the evaluation, and suggestions will be made about how to fix the problems.
The pilot began in October; the national launch is scheduled to start in March or April. Dealer participation is voluntary, Foss said.
Currently, 465 of Toyota’s 1,200 dealerships have body shops.
The push to help body shops boost efficiency and effectiveness is designed to increase labor sales for dealers, increase parts sales for Toyota and offer another way to reinforce customer satisfaction.
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“We decided that it is an important part of our and our dealers’ future,” Foss said.
Each year, 1.5 million to 2 million Toyota vehicles are damaged, and $3.6 billion was spent last year to repair them, according to Toyota. Most of those vehicles are repaired by independent body shops, Foss said.
Most insurance companies have direct repair programs, which means they refer customers to a list of body shops. The recommended shops must meet criteria for equipment, training and pricing.
Toyota is instituting the support program to make sure its dealers’ body shops meet and exceed the insurance companies’ criteria, Foss said. It will focus on helping dealers in three primary areas:
1. Business operations – includes operating standards, consulting services, management training and marketing programs.
2. Technical support – technician training, certification and recognition; published repair standards; technical communication; facilities and equipment upgrading; and environmental compliance information.
3. Insurance industry support – encouraging insurance companies to direct customers to Toyota Certified Collision Centers; reinforce the use of genuine Toyota parts.
Since insurance covers about 90 percent of all repairs, it makes sense to build a close relationship with insurers, Foss said.
Early on, company representatives began meeting with insurance companies’ policy makers to learn how Toyota could build its dealership body shops to fit the insurance companies’ needs.
“They control direct repair,” Foss said. “We will continue to market these shops based on the quality of repair and the ease by which our shops handle customers. We can offer our parts at a competitive price.”
Joe Bertolami, owner of Toyota West in Statesville, N.C., is participating in Toyota’s program. He said his shop can compete with the industry’s best, but he has found room for improvement. For instance, at Toyota’s suggestion, Bertolami instituted a pay plan to reward employees for doing a good job.
“I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. I fully intend to be certified,” said Bertolami, whose body shop sales were $2.3 million in 1996.
Fred Hass Toyota in Houston is also taking part in the program. Vic Vaughan, the general manager, said the program will give his dealership an edge over competitors.
“Certification will give us a new level of credibility and let the insurance company know what we’re doing right,” said Vaughan, whose store racked up $3.5 million in sales in 1996.
While manufacturers have typically not been involved with dealership body shops, that seems to be changing. Ford Motor Co. launched “Body Shop 2000″ in January 1993 as a consulting and management program for its dealership body shops to help the shops improve sales productivity and quality.
Later this year, Toyota plans to develop materials to encourage other Toyota dealers to look at body shops as a business opportunity.
Body shop top 10
Toyota’s Dealer Support Program for body shops has 10 types of certification standards:
1. Business ethics 2. Customer satisfaction 3. Financial performance 4. Management practices 5. Marketing strategies 6. Production processes 7. Training/certification 8. Facility 9. Tools/equipment 10. Safety/environmental compliance
Toyota Motors Sales U.S.A. will certify dealership body shops to aid dealers in securing more customer referrals from insurance companies. Body shops will have to be subjected to a two-day on-site evaluation focusing on its conformance with 10 certification standards ranging from business ethics to safety and environmental compliance before they become Toyota Certified Collision Centers. Four Toyota dealerships will pilot the program.
Some 10 million windshields are replaced annually, a market worth about $3 billion in 1997. By contrast, the service industry repaired about 500,000 damaged windshields in 1990. By 1995, the volume had risen to 3 million.
“The insurance companies are realizing how much they can save,” says Leo Cyr, marketing director for the 500-franchise Novus Inc. chain based in Minneapolis.
Some 200 insurance companies now pay 100 percent of a windshield repair hill, waiving the deductible in an effort to sway consumers away from windshield replacements whenever possible. There are potential benefits as well as pitfalls for service shops. While the art of repairing cracks has matured in the past decade, it still does not always restore the glass to perfect condition. Some damage requires more expensive repair, and traces of the damage remain when the work is done.
Also, a windshield is part of a vehicle’s structure and helps prevent the roof from being crushed during some accidents. In some cases, a damaged windshield must be replaced in order to maintain the auto’s structural integrity. But for most jobs, glass repair efforts can restore a windshield to like-new condition at a sizable saving to the consumer, Cyr says. That translates to customer satisfaction – in more ways than one. By repairing a vehicle’s original windshield, the shop can leave the more secure factory seal intact. Wind noise and moisture problems sometimes plague vehicle owners whose windshields have been replaced.
On top of that, fuel injectors OR carburetors are also among the second-most parts requiring a host of maintenance, therefore, we always recommend our audiences to clean their vehicles’ fuel system & fuel injectors regularly as an effective way to prevent parts replacement – check out this website for simple solution of fuel injectors cleaning. Additionally, new vehicles are becoming more complex. The glass now is equipped with coatings, enclosed antennas, head-up displays, sensors and even rain detectors, all of which make a replacement more complicated and expensive.
New developments in resins and in “curing” the resins have helped the repair trade.
To correct damage in the glass, technicians follow four steps.
- They clean the crack in an effort to stop the damage from spreading.
- They restore the structural integrity of the glass by applying resin to the cracks.
- They restore clarity to the damaged area, making sure the resin is “optically matched” to the glass.
- The glass is smoothed for cosmetic purposes and to make sure the repaired area will not interfere with the windshield wiper blades.
Traditionally, a shop’s ability to make a repair depended on where it could apply and cure the corrective resin. Cracks along the edge of the windshield were difficult because they sometimes extended under the seal. The process was limited because it relied on ultraviolet light to cure the resin. Ultraviolet light could not reach into unseen areas.
In the past two years, Novus began simultaneously using ultraviolet light and chemicals to cure the resins. The chemicals enable technicians to reach into crannies where ultraviolet light cannot go, Cyr says.
There are roadblocks, Cyr admits. “We’re not accepted by the replacement industry. We’re taking business away from them. They’re in the business of making and selling new parts, not fixing old ones.”
But Cyr says a large number of Novus franchisees now do business with new- and used-vehicle dealers. This month, the chain will launch an automatic call-routing system to make its technicians easier to summon. When a call comes into the system’s 800-77NOVUS line, the system will detect the area code of the caller and rout the customer to the nearest repair technician.
Insurance companies have realized how much they can save from the repair instead of the replacement of car windshields and may require automobile repair shops into conducting repairs. The drive for windshield repairs are triggered by the improvement in glass-repair technology and the savings for insurance firms. Statistics show that glass repairs, which cost from $50 to $60 each, have risen dramatically to three million in 1995. Windshield replacement costs from $250 to $300 each.
Parents feel relieved when their children catch German measles or mumps, because they are spared nasty side-effects in adult life. In this spirit the great Scottish biologist Patrick Geddes urged us to encourage children to collect “pretty things” so as to free them from the mania for accumulating possessions.
I have similar thoughts when looking back on the 20th-century’s fixation on the internal combustion engine. Watching my neighbour’s pre-teen grandsons circling his garden on a rebuilt motor scooter, I hope they will have subsumed this obsession before reaching those lethal late-teen motoring years. The US (contrary to the movie image) is a nation of safe drivers, and my theory is that this is because generations have learnt driving behaviour as child observers in the passenger seat.
What is going to happen when the rich world’s century-long love affair with the motor car extends in the next century over the whole of Asia, Africa and South America? Chinese citizens today are as eager for the democratisation of motoring as were Americans for Ford’s Model T which, he claimed, was simple and durable enough to be kept running with a spanner by any hick up a dirt road. Since then every country has sought its “people’s car”, invariably despised by the real enthusiasts.
My father bought his first Jowett in 1929, when I was five. It had a horizontally opposed two-cylinder engine and, in those days when car tax was based on engine size, was rated at 7-hp. The Jowett brothers called it “the little engine with the big pull”. Its sound was as unmistakable as that of the chain-driven Trojan.
By 1936, when my father got another Jowett, I had been won over to the racing scene, by my 3/6d Schuco model of the Grand Prix Mercedes-Benz. This beautiful toy had a real differential on the back axle and a real steering gear, and removable wheels and tyres. It was a masterpiece of toy-making.
My passion for cars had somehow evaporated by 1939 when I was 15 and, apart from reckless adventures with dumper-trucks in the army, I have been a passenger ever since. If asked why I don’t drive, I reply with absolute truth that I lack the capacity for instant co-ordination that safe driving demands: compare the complexity of decision-making needed from a train driver with that endlessly expected from a car driver.
Long ago I learnt from car workers that the pleasure had gone out of car making; and I know that car owners conceal from themselves the true costs involved in running a car. And like everyone else, I also know of the cumulative death rate from human error on the roads and the place of car ownership in the crisis of global warming.
Alas, Piers Brendon’s 432-page centenary history of the RAC does nothing to support my belief that males can grow out of the childhood syndrome that he calls the “automotive bug”. He tells us that the RAC’s royal chairman (Prince Michael of Kent) “drove a jeep at the age of seven and had driven over 100 vehicles by the time he was ten” and that, also at ten, the current chief executive “had learnt to drive a huge break-down truck”.
But his book is no tedious album of self-congratulation. He is remarkably frank about the rich playboys who started the RAC, and about the bossy, snobbish old men who lived off the club for years, treated its employees (including those poor patrolmen) like dirt, and nearly bankrupted the organisation.
He has valuable insights for students of pressure-group politics, on the way influential members affected government policy, and on the rivalry between the RAC and its offspring, the AA. Both developed networks of uniformed “scouts” or “guides” to alert members to police speed traps. For as Brendon notes: “Motoring brought the police into regular conflict with their social superiors for the first time.”
When the oil crisis hit us in 1973 the RAC “fought tooth and nail” those who favoured the conservation of resources. Its chairman dismissed the notion that motorists were polluting the atmosphere as “poppycock“. But by 1990 a survey of members revealed that drivers themselves favoured “environmentally friendly” motoring. The public-affairs director began to campaign for unleaded petrol, carbon monoxide testing, catalytic converters, park-and-ride schemes and car-sharing.
This was a recognition that plenty of motorists would rather not be drivers. The fun had long ago evaporated. Yet in 1994 the RAC found that the report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution suffered from “breathtaking naivety” and in 1996 that the green paper on transport “failed to recognise the central role of the car”.
I’m still hoping for another corporate lurch to draw RAC members into the community transport ideology of the 21st century.
Colin Ward’s “Freedom to Go: after the motor age” was published by Freedom Press in 1991. His latest book is “Reflected in Water”, Cassell, [pounds]12.99