Who owns the customer?

An insight into the Dutch market during IBIS Ireland 2016 suggested the big question remains around who owns the customer.

Paul Dingemans, freelance project manager and consultant presented a session ‘A view of the Dutch bodyshop market’ which raised the question of who owns the customer – the broker, the bodyshop or the insurer.

Highlighting the intricate workings of the domestic market, Paul suggested the question remains, ‘What will be the position of insurers? They need to decide am I going forward or am I just the financial carrier?’ This very dilemma, highlighted Paul has led to consolidation within the market amongst insurers.

Paul highlighted how the number of repair shops in the Netherlands currently stands at circa 2,000 yet according to FOCWA around 600 bodyshops could cover the demand. Paul said, ‘You have two choices – you are either part of it or you wait and see.’ And with estimated average profit margins of between zero to five per cent in the Netherlands market, Paul said ‘it’s time to make strategic choices’.

Speaking of different business models, Paul explained how what franchise operations have understood is that it is not about repairing a car, ‘it is more and more about controlling the value chain’. He continued, ‘I think in future the FNOL will land with the dealer or bodyshop and they will organise the value chain – anything else is cost.’

Paul went on to highlight the franchise organisations operational within the Dutch market, the biggest of which is SchadeNet with 101 locations. ‘What will be significant in the future is the relationship between the franchise and the dealer networks’ suggested Paul pointing to how this is something Autoschade Herstel has done very well by partnering with dealers which means that despite only having 24 locations, it has 91 points of intake.

Paul emphasised how this bodyshop-dealer relationship would, in his opinion, be crucial for the future and said the question is, ‘What will be the future role of the independent damage repair organisation?’

On the theme of future-proofing bodyshop operations, Paul explained how crucial training and understanding business is. ‘You need to fuel your organisation with training, keep your engine (back office systems) operating efficiently, have detailed knowledge of management information and market effectively – repair cars well and tell people about it.

‘If bodyshops put more energy into management and marketing then there is lots to be gained.’

IBIS Ireland 2016 was headline partnered by AkzoNobel and Audatex, along with partners Fastcare and Enterprise.