Great News!
The BAR Electronic Estimate and Authorization Regulations were approved by the Office of Administrative law today and will take effect immediately.
Want the full regulations? Join the CAA or log in to get the PDF.
Some of the new regulation highlights include:
1) Allow a shop to obtain authorization from a customer electronically including text messages. This is much needed change in current law and will help streamline the authorization process for both shops and customer.
2) Each part listed on the estimate in the estimate shall be considered new unless specifically identified as used, rebuilt or reconditioned. Each new replacement crash part listed in the estimate shall be an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part unless specifically identified as a non-OEM aftermarket crash part.
3) Part kits containing several components may be listed as a single part on the invoice and identified by brand name and corresponding part number or similar designation.
4) Any advertisements and advertising signs shall clearly show the name and address listed on the automotive repair dealer’s State registration certificate.
Thanks to all who helped getting these regulations. More information to follow.

Jack Molodanof

Important information for CAA members.

“The California Department of Insurance (DOI) took action recently against Allstate Insurance, Sterling Casualty and Alliance United Insurance based on allegations listed in three separate statements of charges/accusations concerning illegal labor rate practices that were allegedly unfair and/or deceptive and based on complaints from body shops throughout the state”.

Click HERE for more news from the Capitol.

Insurance Adjusters—Friends or Foes

Bob Spitz—Management Success

I was talking with a fairly new shop owner the other day on the state of his business and the challenges of getting a new business off the ground. During the talk the subject of adjusters came up.

This particular owner like many in the business has a passion for his art; he is a master painter, does beautiful work.  And like many new operators he has some collision guys but he is still the one who does the painting.  He has goals.  He wants his shop to be the best collision shop in his market and I have no doubt that with his drive he might make it.  The reason I say might is due to the fact that he is currently stuck working in the back and trying to run the business which includes writing his own estimates.

He is experiencing his first case of true stress and it is starting to manifest itself in the way he handles people.  He looks at adjusters as the enemy who is there to drive him crazy and whittle down his profits to the point where he is not making any money.

I asked him if he provides a space for the adjuster to work while the adjuster is in your shop.  His reply was instantaneous and filled with antagonism.  “Why should I do that?  He is not here to help me!”  I knew immediately that he was looking at the adjuster as an adversary and not a potential ally.

I was not trying to find fault with him.  He is a well trained and experienced painter with a lot of knowledge and talent in that area.  His problem is he is not trained in the fine art of handling people, which as an owner is more important than his skills as a painter.  As a result he is trying to handle the wrong problem in his business.  Killing adjusters will not improve his bottom line!

I got him to calm down and take a look at what an adjuster does. How the adjuster plays the fine balancing act between the insurance company and the shop which has the customer’s interests as the priority.  I got him to also look at that fact that he needs the adjusters help in accomplishing his goals and yelling at people and being belligerent is probably not the best way to win someone over.

I agreed with him that not all adjusters are sweethearts. Some are a real problem.  They can be difficult and unreasonable.  Maybe they just got chewed out by the owner of the last shop they were in.  Maybe they have a chip on their shoulder due to their own failures in business.  It does not matter.  You need this person to help you get what you need.  Maybe just offering them a bottle of water and a place to sit down for a moment to talk about anything other than the business at hand would help.  Not all of them are out to get you. In fact if he would put down his sword and shield he might find the majority of them are just trying to do a difficult job the best way they know how.

Dealing well with people is not only a skill; it is an art form that has got to be mastered by anyone trying to run a business.  There are many things to know about business. Understanding personal relationships and knowing how to negotiate is among the top items on the list.

Understanding people and how to handle people well is a priority for those who have to deal with people.  Very few people are born with these skills, they have to be learned.

I asked him “what if you had the same ability in dealing with adjusters that you have in dealing with the cars?  Where would you be?”  He stopped dead in his tracks.  I continued, “You are a gifted talented painter who only knows how to do the job one-way, the right way. Your upset with the adjuster is you feel he is trying to get you to do the job in a lesser way, a way that will not satisfy you or the customer. You do not have the skill to get the adjuster to see it your way.  This leaves you with limited choices of short cutting, or accepting what is being offered which reduces your profit. Neither one of these is acceptable, nor should they be. You are going to do it the right way regardless.

Two things need to happen here and happen quickly or you will burn out and never achieve your goals.  The first is you have got to learn how to recruit, hire and train the right people so that you can back out of the paint booth and run your business. You are killing yourself trying to do both.  What is currently happening is you get short fused when you have to stop what you are doing to handle the insurance adjusters. You start the conversation with the adjuster with an already negative attitude.

The second thing is you have got to learn how to deal with people and negotiate in order to get what it is you need to do the job right and put money in your pocket.”  His shoulders sagged and he said to me, “where do we start?”

I am happy to report that this particular shop owner did not blow up his business and is now in a much better condition.  He smiles easier and has a good business.  He is well on the way to achieving his goals.

Collision shop owners are in the people handling business.  If you are not achieving your goals, feeling fed up and frustrated, give Management Success a call—we can help.

¨¨¨

Management Success!, is a company that specializes in training and consulting the independent automotive repair shop owner. Bob tours the country as an educational speaker and writes numerous columns and articles for trade publications. Additional articles on management can be read online at www.managementsuccess.com

 

 

© 2014 Management Success!  All Rights Reserved.

Getting the Business Organized

By Bob Spitz

Management Success!

 

There’s an old saying that goes, “I’m to busy to get organized!”  I’m sure that was originally said in jest, but that’s exactly what goes on in too many small businesses.  The owner/manager is extremely good at what he or she does but the idea of stopping long enough to organize the business seems to be impossible.  The end result is management gets overwhelmed trying to get the machine (the business) to produce anything profitably.  Too many times the real problem is the person responsible for running the business doesn’t know how to organize.  Here are some tips on how to tackle this problem.

 

Let’s first take a look at what organization means.  Organization is the action of lining things up in a logical sequence in order to get something done, and done efficiently, in other words, getting it done in the most economical manner without wasted time or motion.  Management means controlling some activity so that activity can operate smoothly and productively.

 

Management’s job is to ensure the products of the company are being produced profitably. When we look at the above it’s easy to see why management can have a very difficult time.  It’s hard to manage an area and get things done when organization is lacking!

 

Never Organize for Organization Sake

When embarking upon the task of getting organized it is important to first look at what it is one is trying to produced or accomplished.  What the goal here?  It is easy to get lost in the woods if the destination is not clearly defined and known.  So the first step is to name the thing you want to accomplish.  A complete understanding of what products the business produces and/or could produce is the starting point for any organization project.

 

Make a List

Start off with a list of say 10 things you would like to improve about the business.  Now narrow the list down to 3 items and then pick one.  Hopefully it will be the one that if done now will quickly improve the overall performance of the business.

Name what you Really Want

Name what it is you really want.  If you do not completely name what you want to accomplish you can end up with weird unworkable solutions.

 

 

Example—Doing it Wrong

 

Improvement wanted: Speed up the production line

 

Situation: Production is being slowed down due to waiting for replacement parts.

 

Solution: Keep a large inventory of parts on hand.

 

Problem with this solution: Ties up my money in inventory—drives up my assets—drives up my taxes.  Parts are hard to control and start walking out of the shop—lost revenue.

 

Solution to Inventory Problem: Hire a parts person.

 

Problem with this solution: Increases inventory and payroll.

 

See how nutty this thing can get?  What went wrong?  What really is needed is not named completely.

 

You can see by this example that it is not enough to just name the problem; you have also got to name what you want in order to come up with a solution that makes sense.  By naming the thing you really want now you can start walking backwards from that point to come up with the actions needed to organize the area.

 

Example—Doing it Right

 

Let’s go back to the original situation that needs addressing:

 

Improvement wanted: Speed up the production line

 

Situation: Production is being slowed down due to waiting for replacement parts.

 

Now name what you really want:  The right parts at the right time without an increase in inventory or payroll.

 

What does it take to get the right parts at the right time without increasing inventory or payroll?  What do you need to do to accomplish this goal?  Now let’s work out a solution.

 

Walk Backwards

Now with this one area of the business look at what steps are needed to be done in order to get this area into the condition you imagine.  Make a list of these actions that have to be taken.  Look it over carefully and ask yourself, “If I do all of these steps will it get me what I want?”  Make sure that each action makes sense and that there are not any needless or redundant steps.

 

Possible Solution:  Look over appointment book the night before for all the vehicles that are scheduled to come in and pre-order the parts that will most likely be needed.  Now work out the rest of the steps needed.

 

Getting Others to Understand and Use New Systems

A great tool for management to use when organizing an area is Flow Charts.  A flow chart allows you to put down on paper what is being visualized.  Flow charts allow you to see where there might be a flaw or a bug in your thinking.  Once again start with the thing you want and then start working it out from there.  When you have it worked out on paper now you can easily show it to others to gain agreement that this will not only help the shop but it will also make their lives easier.  Go through any new procedure with those people who will be involved.  Do dry runs and drill it until the new procedure is smooth and everyone’s questions are answered.  You can come up with great new organizational plans and systems, but if you can’t get the people that need to use them engaged and in agreement your efforts will go to waste.  But when you take the time to do it right and train people on any new system, well life is good!  Good luck in your efforts and here’s to a more organized business!

¨¨¨

 

 

Management Success!, is a company that specializes in training and consulting the independent automotive repair shop owner. Bob tours the country as an educational speaker and writes numerous columns and articles for trade publications. Additional articles on management can be read online at www.managementsuccess.com

 

 

© 2014 Management Success!  All Rights Reserved.

Basics of Employee Management

By Bob Spitz Management Success!

 

 

Dealing with employees can be one of the toughest challenges for a shop owner. By learning some basic strategies of employee management, an owner can reduce his stress level, minimize his personnel problems, and better ensure the success of the business.

 

Define Your Goals

Employees are people you employ (hire) to work with you and assist you in achieving your business goals. An owner needs to have well-defined goals and he must be able to communicate them to his employees to get their support. Good employees want to know what you are trying to accomplish, how they fit into the picture, and how they can benefit by helping you succeed.

 

What do They Want?

 

To find and hire good people, you need to know what good people are looking for— what motivates them to get up in the morning and go to work. Of course people want money, but good people are also looking for a group to be part of, and they want to know that their work is contributing to something of importance. People always want to get compensated well for the work they do, don’t you?  But it’s not the only thing they want. Many people also want stability, a well-organized, high-morale working environment and growth potential. Some look for an employer who can communicate clearly and who stays relatively calm even during times of high stress.

 

Talk to Your People

 

Take the time to sit down with each member, or potential member, of your crew and find out what he wants in life, what his goals and ambitions are. Make sure he understands what you expect from him, the level of production you expect, and what his compensation will be if he achieves this level, and how this will help him get the things he wants out of life.

 

Compensation

 

Your employee pay plan should reward high levels of production. It can even be tailored for each individual. One technician might work extra hard for a cash bonus while another might prefer paid vacation days for a reward. Just make sure you don’t pay high wages or bonuses without also demanding high production. Many pay systems are based on hours on the job. These systems pay people who don’t produce a lot the same wages as those who do produce a lot. In companies with these systems, employees learn that if they just show up and look like they are working, they’ll get paid. It is up to the owner to demand high production and to reward it. Don’t reward the underachiever.

 

Monitor Production

 

Make sure you have a system for tracking and monitoring production and let each employee know where they stand. Your best employees will feel acknowledged and, hopefully, the worst will feel the need to improve. Each employee should be responsible for at least one statistic that measures the main thing he is producing on his job. Employees need to know that their employment and pay is based on their level of production and its value to the company, and not on who they know or their personality or other arbitrary factors. An employer who does not enforce this kind of accountability from his employees is likely to make personnel decisions based on guesswork rather than facts.

 

Where Does Their Pay Come From?

 

An interesting question to ask any employee is, “where does your pay check come from?” Many will respond, “my boss.”  Some are closer to the mark when they say “the customer.”  But the truth of the matter is that an employee’s pay comes from his own hard work, and his ability to produce quality products and services that the business can then sell to customers for income and support.

 

Creating a Team

 

The executive of a business must be able to organize the activities of the business and train his employees so that they will be able to produce valuable products. Most people want to achieve results they can be proud of and, to a great extent, it is up to the owner to make sure they can be proud of their products. It is an owner’s responsibility to make sure that each person who comes on board is given a clearly delineated job and is adequately trained so that he understands how to do this job. He also needs to be shown what his job means to the rest of the crew and he needs to know about the overall product the company produces. Unless every employee is aware of how his job relates to the final product of the company, you will never really have an efficient team working together to achieve your goals.

 

Meetings are Important!

 

Mandatory weekly meetings with your crew will strengthen the concept of a team—that you are not just a bunch of individuals running around frantically trying to get something done—and will give you a chance, as a team, to review how the shop did during the previous week. It is vital to stay positive in these meetings, to accentuate and focus on the production and improvements that were made in the previous week and to set targets for the upcoming week. Stay upbeat and don’t let the meeting drag on. If a particular employee did something above and beyond the norm, acknowledge him or her in front of the group.  If there are any corrections or improvements you want to see, go over those, too.  However, NEVER single someone out for correction in front of the group. If you’re unhappy with someone, ALWAYS address this with him privately.

 

Make it a Three Win System

 

Help each of your employees to see the priorities of the business correctly: first, to make sure the customer wins because without customers there is no purpose for the shop, and second, to make sure the shop is winning (viable) because without the shop, there is no purpose (or paycheck) for the employees. Finally, the employees have to win, because if they can’t win, they won’t stay. Review these priorities at your team meetings and make sure they are understood by everyone.

 

Managing employees is a primary responsibility of an owner. Your success at it will be a function of your attitude toward the business. You set the tempo and the pace for your crew. If your standards are high, and you demonstrate your commitment to meeting these standards, they will follow. If you show genuine care for your people, they will respond.

Wishing you Success!

 

 

¨¨¨

 

 

Management Success!, is a company that specializes in training and consulting the independent automotive repair shop owner. Bob tours the country as an educational speaker and writes numerous columns and articles for trade publications. Additional articles on management can be read online at www.managementsuccess.com

 

 

© 2014 Management Success!  All Rights Reserved.

 

California Auto Body Association
CIF: CAA
PO Box 660607
CP: 95866-0607 CA (USA)
Tel: 916-557-8100

info@calautobody.com

CA Auto Body Association