I Want to Help, but Unfortunately, I Don’t Think I Can at this Time

by Steven Krieps

More and more these days, we struggle to move on to the new, because we hold on so dearly to the old.

I’m not talking about reading the actual newspaper but how we interact with the public. There was a day when a handshake and a promise was all that was needed between an insurance rep and a consumer. A lot of you came up at the beginning or near the end of that era. 

We now find ourselves in a position where young owners and large holding companies are taking over and everything is a business-oriented contract, black-and-white situation. The funny thing about this is that what makes you, the collision center owner, uncomfortable is the exact thing that insurance companies have been using for decades – black and white, aka contracts. You sign contracts with vendors, your own insurance companies and (funny, but not funny) your wives and husbands. And when one of those contracts breaches or doesn’t follow through, you step up and say, “Hey, you can’t do that; we have these standards and rules.” Would it be so wrong to apply the same logic and practice to our customers? Yes, in a manner of speaking, I did just compare treating your customers with a prenup. It’s a simple outline of what I will do for you and what you will do for me, the hows, the whys, the whens. Too many feel that if they take this approach, they will lose business. Would you? Don’t you still use that vendor? Don’t you still go to that doctor? Don’t be naive; you are agreeing to certain things, even when you shop at Walmart. 

Ultimately what I’m getting at is, the world today is tired of the BS – automated messages, PC, BS. Sorry for all the acronyms, but OMG. People just want to know what you can do and how it is going to work. Tell me up front, let me make a choice and don’t lie to me. It’s magical that if you do just that and stick to what the document says and are honest, things work out well. Why do you think claims reps say what they say? Rarely does the policy ever say what you think it will, and the average consumer has likely never read what they agreed to. You, as an owner with decades of experience, are familiar with how things used to be, not how they are now or where they are going, so be open to learning and trying new things. 

Which brings me to the true point of this little article. IT’S OK TO SAY NO! There are people out there who do not care about quality, safety or anything. They just want their car fixed with no headache. It does not take a genius to know that with the typical claims process, this is not a situation that will lead to proper reimbursement for a proper repair. Insurers are in the business of insuring. Rarely do they know what their policy says, since they are likely five states away or have never read it either, but they were told. It is not your battle, and it’s OK to say no to a situation in which you will lose time, money and moments of your life you can never get back. How you go about it is another conversation entirely, but just know it is OK, and you are NOT the only one. It is OK to have and to enforce standards.

Want more? Check out the September 2023 issue of Hammer & Dolly!