OEMs and collision repairs: what’s next?

Delegates at the inaugural IBIS USA were given further insights into what direction experts believe the industry is heading during a panel session titled, ‘OEMs and collision repairs: what’s next?’

Moderated by Sean Carey of SCG Management Consultants, the session brought together the views of Frederieck Toney, president, global Ford customer service division, and Tim Turvey, global vice president, General Motors, customer care and aftersales.

Both agreed that it was folly to directly compare markets around the globe, with each affected by their own localised challenges. However, with the USA and China by the far the biggest players in the automotive industry, Frederieck suggested that one area China surpasses America is in rate of change. He said the Chinese market is evolving rapidly, driven perhaps by a new entrepreneurial spirit and a hotly competitive market.

He said that while bodyshops in the two countries are different, there was still a lot that they could learn from each other and encouraged a more open attitude to sharing best practices.

Both men also agreed that the relationship between OEMs and insurers, while traditionally fraught, needed to be a focus of collaboration in order to deliver a better service for the customer. Frederieck called for the two sectors to overcome their mutual distrust, establish working terms that suit both and then, crucially, to act on them.

Tim said General Motors was already on the path to achieving that. ‘Insurers are our customers too, and we want to foster that relationship. At the end of the day we are both delivering a car back to the end customer, so how do we work together to achieve that more effectively? Finding those solutions will solve both parties’ issues.’

The panel also discussed brand loyalty, and the need to find out what might influence a customer’s decision to remain with a certain brand, and why some customers ultimately switch to a rival brand.

Tim said, ‘Whatever it is, let’s try to understand why they are defecting and figure out how we can retain them in the long-term.’

Frederieck added, ‘The customer decides at the end of the day. If they don’t come to us, then we need to collaborate to attract and then keep them.’

Sean then asked what the benefits of multi-site operations might be, and if there were any lessons the industry could learn from them.

Again, Frederieck said, collaboration was fundamental. He said it was important to work with partners in an intimate way regardless of their size, arguing that learning from each other will ultimately result in a higher level of service. He also suggested that by operating multiple sites there was a greater opportunity to provide a broad range of services rather than offering only niche services to a much smaller customer base.

Tim added that one of the challenge of MSOs if ensuring the same level of service across all sites, but said the ultimate goal was to return the vehicle to the customer in its pre-accident condition. 

IBIS USA was held in San Diego from 13-15 February. It would not have been possible without the support of partners 3M, Axalta, Solera Audatex, BETAG Innovation, Symach, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Fix Network World, Mitchell International, PPG, RSG, Verifacts, CARSTAR, Caliber Collision, Chief Automotive, I-CAR, OE Connection, and PartsTrader LLC.