Crash Data Retrieval / CDR for Collision Repair Shops

Learn about Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) and how the tool is used by Police Departments and Insurance Carriers.  Collision Repair Shops can enjoy a new revenue stream by becoming CDR certified.  Crash Data Group completed a thirteen minute educational video on Crash Data Retrieval (CDR).  It provides a great overview of Event Data Recorders and the Crash Data Retrieval Technology.     ·         Video: CDR for Insurance and Law Enforcement: [image] Anyone interested in learning more should contact me at your convenience.    Thank you,   Clifford J. Smith CDR, United States and Canada   Crash Data Group Sole CDR Distributor, United States and Canada  Phone: (800) 280-7940 x 105 Cell: (425) 319-7756Fax: (866) 966-7033   Announcements- Crash Data Retrieval: - CDR Training: CDR Train the Trainer: - CDR User's Summit: - ARC-CSI Crash Conference: - Collision Magazine:      

GEICO Fined $275,000 in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts insurance commissioner has fined GEICO $275,000 for failing to consistently report auto accident information to state agencies and policyholders. According to regulators, the insurance company failed to tell policyholders of determinations that they were at fault for accidents, and that they could appeal those decisions. “The company’s actions created disruptive issues within the auto insurance marketplace in Massachusetts,” said Joseph Murphy, the state’s insurance commissioner. In addition to the fine, the company will have to notify affected customers within 60 days, properly report past data to the state, and implement new business practices so that consumers are correctly notified in the future. You can read more about in the Boston Globe.

TrueCar app: Boost your consumer connection

A car purchase that is fun and easy? There's an app for that — TrueCar. In 2013, 35 percent of car purchasers used their mobile device to find information about cars and trucks. That's a 460 percent growth since 2011. TrueCar technology enables dealers to show consumers what others paid for the same car they are looking to purchase, helping build confidence in dealer honesty and fair pricing. A certified network of more than 7,700 dealers, dedicated to transparency and providing guaranteed savings, work with TrueCar to create a better buying experience.  Watch below to learn more!

Repair Shops Text to Greater Efficiency

Whether the intent is to simply ask “what’s for dinner,” to be notified when your prescription is ready, or to quickly let someone know you’re running late, text messaging is the preferred communication choice for millions of Americans.   No longer viewed as a teenagers-only form of chatting, or wasting time, trillions of text messages are sent between an estimated 5 billion people each year for a variety of communication purposes.   A growing number of text message users work in the nation’s 275,000 independent auto repair shops. Instead of spending time calling after customers for approvals on service recommendations, to communicate that repairs have been completed, or to share vehicle diagnoses, repair technicians are taking to texting. Automotive software solutions that integrate with repair shops’ management systems easily enable techs to complete and seamlessly text (and email) digital multi-point inspections, service recommendations and, in a growing number of instances, illustrate to the customer in a way only photographs can, why specific repairs are necessary. Text messages, inspections, repair orders and more are then stored at the shop location. The advantages for customers are fairly obvious. The ability to “see” recommended maintenance while scrolling images and work orders on their cell phone or tablet can be done from the convenience of their home, office, meeting, and more without the need to disrupt their day while a repair tech tries to explain over the phone why their brakes are failing, or battery should be replaced, and so on. For automotive repair shops, integrating texting functionality helps businesses be more efficient in day-to-day operations. First, texting or emailing a completed estimate, inspection report, or work order-and accompanying photographs-has been proven to speed up the customer approval process to 37 minutes on average as compared to 1 hour and 17 minutes for traditional customer communication methods. Faster approval times mean shops can service more customers. In addition, quicker approvals make it less likely for vehicles to be removed from lifts only to be re-added hours later once customers are reached. Besides speeding up the customer review and approval process, wireless features help to lessen the time it takes automotive techs to complete repair orders and inspections. This mobile technology, which functions either with a mobile device or a tablet, enables techs to seamlessly scan a car’s vehicle identification number, which helps to increase efficiency and accuracy over writing the information out by hand. Eliminating the need to handwrite customer repair orders, inspection reports and more saves precious time and prevents techs from, later on, having to decipher what was written. In turn, both help to boost efficiency. Above all, integrating the ability to send and receive text messages with the repair shop’s management system is becoming the time-saving norm - for both shop owners and consumers. And who wouldn’t love more time these days?   For more information on wireless technology visit

Automotive Software Solutions Make Setting Vehicle Appointments a Snap

We make appointments for haircuts, teeth cleanings and health physicals. So why not oil changes, tire rotations and other car-related services? For auto shop owners, using automotive software solutions to advance schedule various services, including state inspections and emissions, is beneficial to the business and the customer. Auto shops can drive up revenue ahead of time by advance scheduling appointments while a customer is having other services performed. Think about it, customers and techs alike know that changing a vehicle’s oil every three months or 3,000 miles is a best practice. What better way to drive that home than to use software that looks at driving habits to predict when a customer should return for this common service? Shops need a means of recording and calculating reminders around each customer’s individual driving habits. Taking into account a vehicle’s age, history and recommended service based on mileage can aid in booking future transactions including tire rotations, state inspections & emissions, as well as coolant flushes and so on. Scheduling routine services ahead of time helps maintain manageable work flows and enables shops to determine how many walk-in customers can be added on any given day. Software developed with advance scheduling function features takes email, postcards and even phone call service reminders to another level. With everyone’s busy schedule, it helps to ensure that customers keep up with important vehicle services. To make that scheduling process seamless, customers can add their three-month service, six-month service, or even their annual inspection to their calendar in advance. As the appointment date nears, reminders can be auto-texted to customers. The process is hands-off, allowing shop owners and technicians to focus on other priorities, including performing other customers’ vehicle maintenance. From the driver’s perspective, scheduling future appointments at the time of service makes things easier in several ways. For one, this advanced feature ensures that customers will not forget to make that oil change or tire rotation appointment. People are busy enough. Having one less appointment they need to remember to schedule down the road makes things easier. In the end, customers save time in the future, by making plans today. Also, if they can look ahead to what their vehicle’s maintenance needs are, they will be less likely to decline service as they have had time to prepare financially.   Just like dentists, doctors and hair salons, vehicle maintenance can be predicted and arranged ahead of time.

Incorporating GPS Tracking into Delivery Operations

Imagine this, you are a distributor of goods, be it auto parts, furniture, office supplies, anything. You've got drivers that have been with the company for ten, fifteen years. They know their routes; they know where their customers are. They don’t need a software or computer system to tell them how to do their job. Fair enough. But as their manager, you still should need to know where they are when on company time. Planning and routing are important – in just about every facet of life – but your plan for the unexpected is what is going to get you to the next level. While your business prides itself on stocking high quality goods, inevitably a product will fail in some capacity, and it will need to be replaced or repaired. And once in a while it’s going to happen at the worst possible time – when a customer’s projects are due, when deadlines are up. This is when your plan for the unexpected becomes critical. Obviously, push-back is to be expected from any team that is going from unmonitored to GPS tracked. The key is to frame it correctly. Remind the team that they do a fantastic job, and tracking is not being put into place as big brother workplace surveillance. You still want your team to have that autonomy to do their job the best way possible. After all, that is a major contributor to job satisfaction. Also, don't forget to highlight the benefits for each driver. A conversation from a warehouse, delivery, or operations manager with their delivery team might look something like this: "Remember last week when customer A over on 16th Street had that defective product, right in the middle of a huge project for a key client, and we had to make about fifteen phone calls just to find the driver tech closest to them? Then finally due to miscommunication, we had two different drivers show up to their business, not totally knowing what is going on, and neither actually had the necessary part in the truck? Do you remember how frustrating that was for us, you, and our customer? We pulled two drivers off route, which cost overtime, more mileage, and delayed delivery to even more customers. That’s not the business we want to be, and that’s not the business that we are. Now, we can check out the map, see in real-time who is the closest, confirm that the driver has the capacity to resolve the situation, and allocate resources appropriately - which can be done in a matter of minutes. We won't have to play phone tag and bug you guys with multiple phone calls. This is our plan for the unexpected, to avoid incidents like last week. To make things easier for you, we are eliminating a lot of the paperwork that you mess around with on a daily basis. Your paper manifests – gone. Your stacks of invoices – gone. You will all be given brand new smart phones, which is where the manifests will be sent, and where you can get digital signatures and proof of delivery. The manifests, invoices, and signatures will be sent wirelessly back and forth from the smart phone to our order management system here at the warehouse. And for us, we’re getting a lot of great information and reports – inventory, invoicing, and purchasing histories, all put into a map-based context so our sales guys can easily see top customers and sales opportunities on a map. This will help them plan their sales activities better, which will in turn open the door for more sales. With your performance-based bonuses, your get a chance to earn more money. You guys are good, and we’re not going to fix it if it isn't broke. But we do need to get a better handle on providing better and more immediate customer service, and this will help us do just that."

How Do I Get My People to Work as a Team? by Bob Spitz

Recently this question came up while I was having lunch with a friend of mine who owns a nice shop but is struggling with some production problems.  We were talking about increasing production by improving how employees dealt with each other within the business.  One of the problems he was running into was a lack of communication between the front and the back in his shop.  “I don’t get it, it seems so obvious to me, and yet my guys seem to be on different pages sometimes.”“Did you ever play any team sports?” I asked.  “What makes a good team good?  Is it simply a matter of recruiting superstars, or is there more too it than that?”  He had played team sports and was still a member of a softball team in a league in his town.  We started to examine what made great teams great and how that could relate to his current situation.All the good teams he had ever been on had the following attributes in common:1. They had a common goal.2. Each person knew his position in the game.3. Each person understood how his actions and performance affected everyone else.4. Each person knew all the other players positions.5. They drilled and practiced all the time.6. They had a good manager who knew how to motivate.7. They looked at key statistics in their game.8. They reviewed good and bad plays.9. They got along great.We then took the list and compared these points with his shop.  And I asked him the following questions:1. “Do you have a goal for the business?  Have you shared this vision with your people?” Just like sports teams, any group needs to have an agreed upon goal or objective to perform well.  In ball it is usually to win the division or something even higher like a state championship.  Then that big goal is broken down into smaller goals, then right down to individual players’ goals. I worked with a shop years ago up in Minnesota who had similar problems.  We got his people together and asked them what would they really like to have that would improve their working conditions?  They unanimously announced they wanted a better building. This answer surprised the owner.  He had heard grumbling about the lack of work space but never saw this as an opportunity to unite his people toward a common purpose.  We set about a plan to accomplish this goal and gave it a two-year target.  This was presented to the crew with the sales and production numbers it would take to attain this goal.  Monthly and weekly targets were set with smaller short team bonuses for the crew to earn and within a year they were in a new building! So I asked my friend again, “Do you have a goal for the business and have you broken that goal down into lesser goals with a shorter time interval where everyone involved could experience the joy of winning? 2. “Does each of your people really understand their job, what’s expected of them and how to measure their own performance?” A team only performs as well as the individual players are proficient at their individual jobs. There has to be a way of measuring the production and performance of each position in a shop, a certain statistic to keep track of for that position. 3. “Do your people completely understand how their actions and how their performance affects the performance of the others in the group and the overall performance of the shop?” Nobody in a group lives on an island.  Each member has to understand how their actions and performance effects the actions and performance of the other members in the group. 4.  “Do your people completely understand everyone else’s job and what it is they do and how that affects them?”When individuals in a group do not have a good understanding of the jobs others around them perform it greatly decreases that group’s ability to perform at peak levels. Complete job descriptions for every position in the business must be available and completely understood by each person for their own position. 5. “Do you take the time to train your people in their positions and drill people on the shop’s procedures?” A business that does not invest resources toward training is killing itself.  A shop has got to have a system and schedule for on-going training of each member of the group.  A shop also needs to hold training drills on the various administrative procedures in the shop. 6. “How do you compare with the good managers you have played under in those sports teams? Are you lacking any skills or knowledge to be a competent leader of your people?”The owner of a business has many hats to wear but the primary ones are planning and the execution of plans.  This is easy to say but takes a very exact skill set to accomplish.  Top professional sports figures all have coaches.  An owner of a business would be wise to hire a competent business coach. 7. “Like sports, a business must have Key Performance Indicators to gauge its effectiveness and progress toward a stated goal.  What stats or KPI’s are you managing with?” Understanding the sales-production-profit pipeline of a business and what the key statistics are to measure the success of an executive’s decisions and actions is vital to the achievement of the goals. 8. “It is a smart operator who videos their people in action and then review their performance with them. This gives management and staff a chance to reinforce positive actions and correct mistakes before incorrect actions become bad habits.” All pro sports players use video to enhance performance and it is something that should be done in the workplace. 9. “You had teams you were on where everyone got along great. That was because they were winning teams”. Keeping people winning on their jobs is an important part of managing and leadership.  Knowing how to set up bonus plans and quickly handling upsets with employees is all part of knowing how to win the game.My friend sat back and looked at me and said, “I never looked at my business this way.  There is a lot of room for improvement, but now I have a direction to go in.” We hammered out a step-by-step plan to start implementing the changes that needed to be made to create a truly winning team, and I am happy to report the business now operates at a much higher level of sales and production and yes, they are getting along great!If you would like to improve the performance of your business, give us a call, we would be happy to give you a free business analysis and get you pointed in the right direction.Wishing you nothing but success!Management Success!
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