Total Care Accident Repair Blog
When I last wrote I thanked all of our business partners and acknowledged their role and critical importance in our quest to provide the best customer care experience for our customers. Although we may be the “point guard” in the repair process, the role of the insurer, agent, parts supplier, rental company etc. can’t be overstated when it comes to the satisfaction of the vehicle owner. At Total Care our mission is to complete an outstanding repair on your vehicle while coordinating the entire process to eliminate your angst and relieve the pressure that comes with being involved in an accident. I’m proud to say that at the end of each individual repair we can almost always say “mission accomplished”. Again, this is due in no small part to the cooperation we get from our many business partners who share the same values that we have about customer care.
So now I’m going to tell you a story about one insurer who has little or no interest in being a good business partner with anyone. Their “command & control” mentality coupled with an unwillingness to work collaboratively makes it extremely difficult to provide an outstanding experience for the customer. The insurer in question is a big national company with a seemingly unlimited budget devoted to quirky advertising (think salamander, Neanderthals & farm animal) that is always focused on price and never mentions service. These guys appear to be intent on being a better marketer of what they do than a doer of what they do. They will sell you cheap insurance, but you better hope you never have to use it!
So here is the very short version of a long sad story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…. and the not so innocent.
Bob’s 2010 car was rear ended and severely damaged on June 21st of this year. The vehicle was towed from the scene of the accident to a local tow yard. The person who caused the accident was insured by a large Massachusetts based insurance company who sent their appraiser to view the vehicle at the tow yard. The obvious visible damage was extensive and the appraiser declared the vehicle a total loss. A few days later an appraiser from Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company was dispatched to see the car. Somehow he didn’t see all of the obvious damage, wrote an absurdly inaccurate $3,300 estimate and insisted that the vehicle be repaired. Bob was concerned (understandably) about the viability of repairing his badly damaged vehicle and asked us to take a look at it in the tow yard. The moment I saw the vehicle it was apparent that the cost of repairing the car would likely exceed the value of the vehicle (approximately $12,000) less the salvage value. When I talked to the appraiser from Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company, he insisted that the car should be repaired. I explained that we could certainly repair the vehicle and provide the customer with a lifetime warranty but the cost to do a safe, correct repair would approach or possibly exceed the value of the vehicle. The appraiser pretty much dismissed my thirty five years of experience and basically bullied Bob into having the vehicle towed to another shop.
Bob called me on September 1st to let me know how things worked out with the repair experience provided by Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company. Bob was “pleased” to report that he got his car back on Thursday, August 30th, a mere 71 days after his accident. His rental coverage had run out in mid July (forcing him to borrow a family member’s vehicle) but his transportation problem didn’t seem to concern Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company. When Bob requested an extension on his rental they told him he had no more coverage. When Bob pointed out that they insisted that the car be repaired, Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company had no response and offered no relief. Although he got his car back on August 30th, Bob could not get either the repair shop or Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company to provide him with a final, itemized bill. After another 71 days, a couple of return trips to the shop and repeated requests to the insurer, Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company finally gave Bob an estimate on November 9th. The estimate (including four supplements) showed a repair cost of $13,165. To say this was a bad customer care experience would be the understatement of the year. So let’s go to the scoreboard and do a final accounting for Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company on their relationship with Bob:
- Bob was abused by his customer care experience and has dropped Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company. He already has and will likely continue to tell everyone he knows about how bad his experience was.
- Adding in the $900 of rental expense that they did pay, Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company spent over $14,000 on this claim. Their handling of the situation also guaranteed that Bob will never spend another premium dollar with them, which over the course of his driving career will exceed $50,000.
- If the vehicle had been totaled (as it should have been) Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company would have recovered at least $4,000 for the salvage value of the vehicle and reduced their out of pocket cost to about $10,000. Bob would have bought another car in a timely manner, not been needlessly inconvenienced and continued his relationship (and premium payments) with Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company.
When the marketing of a product or service is more important than the quality and value of the product or service the customer and the company both lose. In the short term Bob took a beating. But what is the long term viability of a company that treats it’s customers this way? Better Marketer Than Doer Insurance Company will likely continue to sell a lot of policies due to their massive advertising budget and the lure of “cheap” insurance. I wonder how many referrals they get from satisfied customers?
As we continue to get rave reviews and outstanding CSI scores from our customers I want to acknowledge and thank all of our business partners who work behind the scenes to help us provide you with the best collision repair experience possible.
If you used a basketball team as an analogy, Think of Total Care as the “point guard” of the repair process. Obviously we are responsible for repairing your vehicle but in order to deliver a truly outstanding customer care experience we have to assemble and direct a great team of vendors and suppliers who have the same customer focus that we have. There has to be a coordinated, team effort from multiple people and organizations to ensure a happy customer. The performance of the agent, the insurer, the tow company, the rental agency, the parts suppliers and the paint supplier are crucial to your satisfaction and our success.
When Brian and I were in the “dreaming” stage of starting our business we came up with the name, Total Care, because that is what we are committed to providing to everyone in need of collision repair. And when we do a good job it’s often reflected in on-line reviews, CSI scores and genuinely happy customers. We really appreciate all of the accolades we get but we want you to know that there are a whole bunch of people that you will never meet who are an integral part of our team and your customer care experience. So a special thanks to all of our vendors who work diligently behind the scenes to make it possible for us to deliver Total Care to all of our customers. Like most things in life, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to a quality collision repair experience.
Total Care Accident Repair is a pretty unique auto body repair shop in Raynham. For six years our team has been studying the Toyota Production System and Lean Manufacturing Principles to aid us in documenting and improving the process of repairing cars in our collision center. We continuously build and measure our processes with a focus on identifying and eliminating waste so our efforts add more value to customers.
As we go through our journey, we meet people inside and outside of our industry who are working on the same things for their own businesses. Recently we hosted a shop tour to members of the executive team from South Shore Hospital. They too are driven to eliminate waste from their system so their customers can have a better experience. Its funny but you wouldn’t necessarily expect hospital executives to tour a collision center in search of ways to improve hospital operations.
(Richard Aubut & Joseph Cahill from South Shore Hospital tour Total Care in Raynham)
But alas, we really are in the same business. Sure, my dented patient is made of steel and plastic versus the human kind, but there are many parallels including; 3rd party insurance pay, deductibles (copayments), Blueprinting (diagnosis of the underlying condition), creating a repair plan (care plan) to get the car (patient) well again, and having specialists from multiple departments work as a team with the goal of returning the car (patient) back to its normal functions as quickly as possible.
Collaboration of this type is exciting. We recognize that we learn when we teach. We also gain from hearing the experiences of others. We must always be looking for ways to get better at what we do, even by looking in unlikely places for answers. Lastly it is important for businesses to work together in the community, especially when our success brings greater value to the community itself. Keep getting better, it feels good.
I have spent virtually my entire thirty five year business career in the auto body and collision repair industry. As a business owner (and a naturally curious person) I am keenly interested in how other businesses and industries handle the customer care experience.
I had an interesting “customer experience” the other day at one of the major office supply chain stores. It helped clarify my understanding as to who is really in control of customer service at any business. The young female service rep that was allegedly there to help me was completely disinterested in:
A) Her job
B) My wants & needs
C) The image & well being of her employer
D) ALL of the above
The company in question typically provides great service and despite my unpleasant experience with this one individual, I will not be deterred from shopping there in the future. At least until it happens again. The crux of the prob
lem seemed to be that the service rep was not “happy”. I can’t tell you if her unhappiness was due to personal problems, her job situation or just the proverbial “bad attitude” but it didn’t play well with me or the two other customers I saw her torture while I was there.
As you might expect, Brian Bernard and I are very proud of the >98% CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) that Total Care Accident Repair has achieved over the past twelve months. The long term viability of any business is directly tied to the level of trust and loyalty you have with each and every customer. So what is the secret for any company in achieving great customer satisfaction? We believe it’s directly tied to the trust, loyalty and respect that employees share with their company and each other.
At Total Care our people are our greatest asset. They are even more important than our customers. Yes, I did just say that and here is the reason why: If our people are not happy, enthused, motivated, concerned, well trained, fairly compensated, encouraged, competent and caring they will not be capable of delivering the customer experience that we expect and you deserve.
So now I would like to introduce you to the team that delivers the Total Care experience:
Pedro Flores and Brian Couto are our “blueprinters”. They are responsible for taking your car apart, documenting all the damage and ordering all the parts. Pedro is a licensed damage appraiser and Brian is an ICAR Platinum trained technician. Together, their mission is to get it right the first time, and they do! Frank Soares handles all of our frame, structural and suspension repairs. Frank is also an ICAR Platinum trained technician and welder. Frank has a wealth of automotive repair knowledge that never ceases to amaze me. Frank can fix anything! Mark Pacheco is responsible for our coach work. He is a master craftsman when it comes to straightening and sculpting twisted metal. No one does it better than Mark and he does it with a terrific sense of humor. Craig Denton is our painter. His ability to blend & match color is outstanding but it’s his “can do” approach that makes him so valuable to our team. Craig came to us in 2010 from the UK and he still doesn’t “get” baseball. Chris Barbosa re-assembles your vehicle after the body & paint work has been completed. Chris has an uncompromising eye for detail and the belief that he can make every gap perfect. Sometimes I have to remind him that he can’t. Joe Rodrigues is “the magic man with the magic hands”. Joe buffs, cleans & details your car as the final step in our process. His work ethic & upbeat personality allows us to overlook his devotion to the New York Giants. Jason Razee is our youngest technician and “utility” player who assists our senior techs. Just two years removed from trade school, Jason has displayed both the talent and maturity that bodes well for his future success. Andrew Perry is our office administrator, parts manager and front line estimator. His technical automotive experience coupled with a degree in computational math from UMASS makes him an interesting young man. Andrew’s role at Total Care is to do whatever is needed and he does a great job at it!
These are the people who create the outstanding experience for our customers. We are blessed to have them here on our team and very proud of what they do. Unlike the service rep I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, our team is completely engaged in their work, caring about our customers needs and concerned about the image, well being and success of Total Care Accident Repair. Our business isn’t perfect. And every day at our Raynham body shop isn’t “Camelot” but the respect we have for each other and the business is what fuels the care we provide to our customers. At the end of the day it boils down to this very simple equation:
Customer Satisfaction = Employee Satisfaction
Customers frequently ask us about "Auto Body Express Repairs" and if their vehicle is eligible. While most of our repairs follow the traditional collision repair process, it is nice to have an alternative for faster moving small repairs. There are three main criteria that fit our Express Service model.
- Smaller Repairs
- Bumper Covers
- Door Dings and Dents
- Scuffs & Scratches
- Eliminate wait-time for authorizations makes it FAST!
- Select from several repair options (Good/Better/Best)
- Repair the way you want it
- Priced to fit your budget
- Many repairs done same day
- Maximum 3 day repair
If Auto Body Express Repair sounds good to you, the first step is to make an appointment so we can review the damage together. We will listen to what you want, and together we will develop a repair plan that fits your needs. If your repair doesn't fit the Express Model, we can proceed with the traditional collision repair with (or without) your insurance company. But a 10-minute appointment will answer all of your questions.
When my business partner Brian and I started Total Care Accident Repair in June of 2010, we knew our partnership would succeed because we share the same set of principles and values that guide us in both our personal and professional lives. Over the next several months I would like to share with you how we think about our business, our customers, our employees, our insurance partners, our vendors and even our competitors.
This is my first-ever blog, so bear with me and don’t hesitate to give me your feedback!
One of the most basic principles that we operate on is simply this: The Customer Defines Value.
So what does that mean? For us it means we have to listen closely to what the customer wants, and then offer our experienced opinion and guidance to explain the options with the pros and cons allowing them to move through their decision making process. Each customer has their own personal set of unique circumstances that dictates their buying decision. Our job is to ask the right questions, listen closely to the answers and provide options that fulfill the need. Cost, quality, convenience and time are the usual customer concerns, but everyone still has unique needs.
Our goal is to give every customer a customized repair experience! “One size fits all” will never apply here at Total Care. If your vehicle is your “baby” and you want it to look like the accident never happened, we can certainly do that. If you are on a tight budget and only want a partial repair for the purpose of functionality, we are more than happy to accommodate you. If you are concerned about surcharge points and want to avoid making an insurance claim, we can guide you. And if you just ripped the mirror off the new car backing it out of the garage and need it replaced before your wife finds out, we can help you with that too!
Too often body shops don’t really listen to the voice of the customer. They only want to do the repair “their way”. They are often unwilling, or unable, to comprehend what the customer truly values. When we opened Total Care Accident Repair we did it with a very different operating model that is focused on creating value for every customer on every repair as defined by you….. And thus, we never lose sight of the fact that The Customer Defines Value.
It’s simple. It’s not rocket science. Shouldn’t every business, regardless of the industry, encourage and ultimately let their customers define value? We think so!
I'm really proud of the feedback that our customers give us after their repair experience. We give each of our customers a brief survey with an opportunity to give comments back to us. The feedback helps us to get better at what we do and its very important to us. But mostly we get words of kindness like this one:
"Total Care Accident Repair is a really great body shop! Everyone was extremely pleasant. They called me back right away to give me an update on my car. I was expecting 2 weeks for it to be at the shop but took a couple of days! I highly recommend this shop to anyone." Marisa D.
Thank you Marisa, and all of our customer who provide words of encouragement!
One of the ways we drive our satisfaction rate high is by keeping our customers informed. We start by giving a Projected Completion Date to our customer on the first day. I can't think of any shops that are able to do this. Then we follow-up with a sequence of calls intended to update the customer so they know we are still on track.
Having an accident can be scary. Often times, drivers are overwhelmed with so many thoughts that they don’t know what needs to be done. Do you know what to do after a car accident? Here is a helpful list to assist you immediately... and even days after the accident.
1. Take a deep breath and make sure everyone is safe at the scene of the accident. Get appropriate medical care as needed. Nothing is more important than the well-being of the people involved.
2. If possible, move the cars off the road to a safe area and turn on your hazard lights.
3. Notify the authorities (call 911), especially if there is damage to another persons property.
4. Identify any witnesses that may provide a helpful account of the accident for the police.
5. Be polite with the other party, but don't tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it was. Collect the following information:
• Other driver's name & license number
• Registered owner's name from the registration
• Other vehicle information - Color, Make, Model, License plate #, and the damage sustained.
• If Driver and Owner are different, ask how they are related
6. Discuss the details of the accident with the police. You don't have to discuss all the details with the other party.
7. If your car is not safe to be driven then have your car towed. Make sure the lights are working, nothing is rubbing on the tires, and no fluids have leaked from the vehicle. Only drive your vehicle if you know it is safe.
8. If you have a good full-service insurance agency like FBInsure, contact them promptly. Let them know the details of the accident and they will help you to file the claim properly with your insurance company. A good insurance agent will aid in determining if you should avoid filing a claim.
9. Collect some important information from your insurance company including:
• What is the claim number?
• Do I have rental coverage?
• Will my deductible apply and if so, how much is it?
• What does the insurer require prior to getting my car repaired? Will they send one of their appraiser out to see mey car, or do I have to bring it to their Drive In Claim Center, or can I bring it directly to Total Care Accident Repair?
10. Select your Auto Body Repair Shop...Total Care Accident Repair is a great choice! A great repair shop will...
• Coordinate the towing of your car to the shop
• Assist you to get into a car rental right from their shop
• Listen to you and address your specific questions and concerns
• Keep you informed during the repair process
• Provide you with a Projected Completion Date on Day-1
• Provide you with a Lifetime Written Warranty
• Measure their Customer Satisfaction Index and share the results
• Turn a bad situation into a surprisingly pleasant customer experience
Share these tips with friends and family today. It is better to be prepared in case of an accident than to be taken by surprise.
Almost all collision repairs require the replacement of at least some car parts. Often the "parts list" can be quite lengthy. But what kind of parts go onto your car and why? Do you know the difference?
Parts fall into four primary categories; Original (OEM), Aftermarket, Used (LKQ) and Reconditioned.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) - These are parts supplied directly from the manufacturer for your car. Basicly they come from Nissan, Subaru, Ford, Honda etc. or their licensed supplier. These are exact replacement parts for your car.
Aftermarket Parts - These are parts made by a company other than your car manufacturer. They are made to replace the parts that come off your car, but they are a replica of the part, not the original. The benefit here is lower cost.
Used or LKQ - LKQ is an acronym that stands for "like kind and quality". These are parts that come from donar cars at a slavage yard. The auto body industry is a "very green" industry and we like to recycle nearly everything! Note these parts are not damaged, just used.
Reconditioned - These parts had some minor prior damage or blemish that was repaired by a reconditioning factory and resold. This is another way our industry recycles. Bumper covers, wheels and some mechanical parts are often reconditioned in this fashion.
Many times a repair will utilize a blend of different part types to get your car back to pre-accident condition. Massachusetts regulation requires us to use these alternative parts because it helps to lower the total cost of repair. When repair prices are lower, insurance premiums are lower too and this is good for all consumers. But if a car has less than 20,000 mile on it, then the Massachusetts regulation states that it is OK to use all OEM parts because the car is basically new.
Our preference is to use OEM parts all of the time because it reduces the amount time to complete the repair. The alternative parts generally are of good quality and there is no discernable difference in the overall quality of repair. Regardless of the mixture of parts used, Total Care Accident Repair provides a Lifetime Written Warranty and will ensure a high quality repair for new cars as well as old.
If the utilization of OEM parts is important to you, ask your insurance agent about getting a rider to your policy that ensures only OEM parts are used for insurance repairs.
If you have any topic you would like to read about, please post it below!
Topics: Auto Body Parts