Greet Magazine Battle Ground Interview
How many people does the company employ? 12
How long has it been in business? 20 years
What prompted you to start your own business? Kevin had been running Art Morse Auto Repair after his father passed away, with his mom and brother; he was contemplating doing different things, since he no longer wanted to work on the mechanical side of things, when he met a man who owned both a mechanical shop AND a body shop. That gentlemen shared his insights with Kevin, and since the property right next door to Art Morse Auto Repair was already in the family (Art Sr. sold his corvette, and bought both properties when he saw the For Sale sign in the ditch), Kevin decided to build a body shop, since he loved cars so much, and moved in that direction.
Is there a special mission/purpose for your business you would like to share? Over the years we have been blessed to be small enough to shift quite quickly; and considering how the world is constantly evolving, that feels like a good thing. At one point in time we had some insurance contracts and learned all about DRP’s (direct repair programs) and how insurance companies use them to save money at the consumers expense. We wanted to START as a non DRP body shop, but Kevin said that wasn’t feasible without a customer base, so we built our reputation over the years to focus on quality. A few years ago, we terminated the couple of contracts we had, to focus on being our customers advocates and making sure their vehicles are properly repaired. Our goal is to return vehicles to a pre-loss condition following OEM procedures and to assist our customers to make sure they aren’t taken advantage of by the insurance company.
Do you have a company culture philosophy you are striving for? We are a family owned and operated small business. We focus on treating our employees and customers, the way we would want to be treated. We hired BJ Stromme, a business coach to share with our team, her book “Are You My Flock?” and brought a culture of understanding how each of us work as individuals and how we can thrive as a unit when peoples feelings don’t get hurt because of how someone else speaks to them. It has made our family environment even more enjoyable and new hires seem to have a smooth adjustment when they join our team, knowing we appreciate each person for the individual they are.
Describe what your company does: We safely repair wrecked vehicles, acting as a consumer advocate, doing our best to hold insurance companies accountable to repair vehicles to a pre-loss condition following OEM guidelines.
Anything extraordinary/unique that your company does: We take a personal interest in each customers repair process. We look up repair procedures, not everyone does that, because it costs money to buy the program as well as time for our staff to do that actual research and takes our technicians time to review the procedures, so that we are properly fixing cars. We do not use substandard aftermarket, insurance recommended parts, we only use OEM parts in the repair process.
Given your business expertise and the nature of what you do, what advice (whether general or specific) can you offer to the residents of your neighborhood? If you decide NOT to use us to fix your car, PLEASE choose a body shop that is not recommended by your insurance company. Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, insurance companies really only care about their bottom lines. For instance, we have heard an adjuster say “Most people get rid of their cars after an accident within 7 years, so we aren’t worried about how long the repairs last.” To us, that doesn’t scream that they care about your safety.
How did you decide on this industry (events that led up to where you are now, where you went to school, etc.)? Kevin has a love of cars like few others I know. His back ground in running a mechanical repair facility gave him the knowledge to hire and empower others around him, to build a collision repair facility.
Where did you grow up? Kevin was born and raised in Battle Ground. Deana was born and raised in Minnesota and relocated to the Battle Ground area when she was 15.
Tell us about your family: Our family has been serving Battle Ground for over 40 years. Hunter working at Art Morse Auto Repair makes us a 3rd generation family business.
What are your hobbies/interests? Kevin loves golf and plays in a league once a week. Deana enjoys working in her garden and tending to her chickens.
Any Fun Facts about you that might be fun to share? Deana is into alternative healing modalities, she came across Kangen water, bought a machine for at home and LOVED IT, she was tired of lugging water in for her employees every few days, so she bought a machine for staff to be able to use at Elite, and she created a “Kangen Fill Station” available to all the local residents, so more people can clean out their cells and live a better life!
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You’ve been in an accident, now what? The insurance company may have given you a list of shops to go to. How do you decide who fixes your car? There are two general types of shops – DRP and non-DRP. If you haven’t been in an accident before, or it’s been awhile, you may be unsure of what shop to choose. Keep in mind it is your right to choose who fixes your car. I’ll share my perspective from having experienced both sides as a repair professional.
First off, DRP stands for Direct Repair Program. This program is the relationship between an auto body repair shop and an insurance company. A body shop signs an agreement with an insurance company where (in theory) they both win. Notice, I didn’t mention anything about the customer winning here. Let me explain below how this benefits everyone but you, the consumer!
The agreement may specify the repair shop completes repairs with a specific number of used, repaired or aftermarket parts, over new parts to save the insurance company money. The agreement could also specify that “their” (the insurance companies’) customers go to the front of the line, before other customers so that they pay less on replacement rental cars, as well as no storage fees charged if declared a total loss.
The more money that a body shop saves an insurance company, the higher on the list that shop’s name goes. If a shop doesn’t put the aftermarket parts on, or replaces a panel that needs to be replaced vs. repairing panels how the insurance company wants to save money, the body shop will be moved lower on the list. The body shop gets more customer referrals the higher up their name is on the list. This provides them with all the incentive they need to do the least costly repairs as possible. Least costly in most cases means not up to the manufacturer specifications. Manufacturers (Toyota, Honda, Chevy, etc.) specify how their vehicles need to be repaired to ensure the highest level of safety. Some repair shops do not even pay to have access to each manufacturer’s specifications for repairs. Yes, we repair shops have to pay manufacturers for this information in order to complete the safest repairs.
Why would a shop want to be on a Direct Repair Program? Referrals have to be the biggest reason. Imagine a solid line of customers being sent to your doors. It sounds good, again, in theory. How can a DRP shop stay in business when the insurance company wants to pay them as little as possible? Profit margins are not big in the auto body repair industry, so how can a shop survive if they are giving discounts? We have seen instances of body shops charging for a new part, but actually put on a used part or repaired the existing damaged part. We have seen instances of body shops cutting corners on repairs to increase their profit on a particular repair. This saves that shop money, and in turn the insurance company; at your expense and potentially putting your safety at risk.
Let’s talk about a non-DRP shop. This is a shop that does not have any contracts with insurance companies. They work for their customers, with their customers’ best interest in mind. A non-DRP shop receives no referrals from insurance company claim departments. They rely on word of mouth from satisfied customers, which benefits you, the consumer. Who do you think is more likely to do a better job on your repairs, a shop trying to please the insurance company or a shop that is seeking satisfied customers for referrals?
Recently a customer was referred to us for repairs and when we asked them how they heard about us, they responded with, “a family member that works as a fraud investigator for a major auto insurance company referred us to you and said you are the best.” Now if an insurance company employee refers their family to us for repairs but refers their customers to a DRP shop, it makes you wonder why.
We had multiple insurance contracts up until a couple of years ago when we decided to finally terminate all of them and have our customers’ safety as our No. 1 priority. Now, the safety of our customers was always our priority, but when you are a DRP shop, you are told to fix cars in a way to save the insurance company money. When you don’t fix them the way they want you to, you literally go to the bottom of their list. I have heard insurance company representatives disregard quality standards because they say that the average person is going to sell their vehicle before the workmanship issue shows up, multiple times! All this does is pass that unsafe/lesser quality repair onto the next unsuspecting person buying the used car. Think about that the next time you are in the market to purchase a used vehicle … but that is a topic for another day.
Who is the DRP Shop’s most important customer? The insurance company that sends in the business or the actual person having their vehicle repaired? I would recommend you use a DRP shop, if time, or having the insurance company guarantee the repairs, are the most important attributes you are looking for. However, if your safety is what matters most, then maybe a non-DRP shop is the way to go. Either way, do yourself and family a favor and ask more questions about how they fix cars and read reviews.
We are always telling you that Safety is our #1 priority! Here is just one of the ways we advocate for our customers and refuse to cut corners that compromise your safety…
Have you ever wondered how aftermarket sheet metal parts are manufactured? One way is, when an original equipment manufacturer, like Ford, Chevy, Honda, etc. makes their replacement parts, they create a die, which is used to stamp out the metal. It’s used at the factory until it is deemed no longer within specifications. They then sell the die to the aftermarket parts manufacturer, to then stamp out more, even though they will be slightly off.
Yes there might be a FEW in the beginning of aftermarket production that will still be pretty true to originals, but the die has already been used to capacity when it is sold to the aftermarket parts manufacturer. After a while, everything is just off… the holes, the curves, the lines. These are important not only for safety but also for the overall look of your vehicle.
We have two aftermarket part vendors that will no longer sell parts to us due to our high rate of returns. You see, on the rare occasion we order an aftermarket replacement part, we don’t just bolt it on and keep moving. We weigh it, if it doesn’t weigh the same as the original part, we return it!
Why?, you might ask, well when your car was built it was very carefully engineered to be in perfect balance. A replacement part of different weight would throw that balance off. Or what about aftermarket parts where the holes just don’t quite line up, we return it! Because of insurance company relations and the fact that they are measured by how many aftermarket parts are used, some shops will just slot new holes to make it fit. We return it! How about a fender that lines up perfectly at the hood but by the time you get to the bumper, the gap is 3 times wider? Nope, we return it!
Just some of the things we do to put aftermarket parts to the test BEFORE putting them on a vehicle include weighing the part, visual inspection which includes verifying the stamp marks, fit & finish, and that body lines & waves line up.
Sometimes it is even necessary to bolt on the part to complete the visual inspection.
When we say Safety is our #1 priority, we REALLY mean it!
Do you have GAP insurance? Wait, What is GAP insurance?
Today I was reminded about something that we tell our customers when they ask about what to expect when settling their total loss process; and that is GAP insurance!
It’s an insurance policy, that you typically purchase at the dealership or through your lender at the time you purchase your vehicle, that covers the difference between the value of your vehicle deemed by the insurance company after being declared a total and the balance that you still owe on your auto loan.
So besides making sure you have an idea of the value your vehicle had BEFORE it was in the accident, gathering any major recent auto repair receipts, be sure to check with your lender to see if you purchased GAP.
Helpful hint; sometimes you can purchase GAP insurance through your own insurance company even after the initial purchase. I myself, did so for a much lower cost. I also only carried the GAP rider until the balance of my loan was lower than the actual cash value (ACV) of my car; saving me even more money and giving me piece of mind.
Consumers sometimes think that the term estimate means a total cost of repairs. However for collision repair, the term estimate means a preliminary estimate of cost, based on a visual inspection of damage.
The trouble with that is, the fact that only the damage that is visible can be written into an estimate (by law, as we will discuss later). Without a complete disassembly of the damaged area, a total cost of repairs cannot be given.
Insurance companies know that estimates are given based on visual inspections and also know that once disassembly takes place there is a chance that unseen damage will be discovered and amended to the estimate.
This is not the collision repair facility nickel-and-diming the consumer. That is how the collision repair industry operates as a whole due to laws and regulations specific to the industry. In fact it is ILLEGAL for a collision repair facility to write an estimate and include possible damages that cannot be seen.
Other Industries have completely different rules and regulations. Take for example a remodeling contractor, they provide you with a BID to remodel your kitchen. Generally you will get a bid based on worst case scenario. The contractor will assess all of the things that MIGHT play a part in what they are about to embark upon. If they get to the job site and it’s easier than they bid, they pocket the difference. If it turns out to be more than they thought, they eat that shortage, or ask for more money.
Let’s explore more about unseen damage by talking about a vehicle door. The first visual inspection looks like it is repairable. However, when we disassemble it, we are then able to see that there is damage to a sound deadening pad or to the high steel intrusion beam, the beam that protects occupants from injury if later involved in a T-bone accident. This can only be added to an estimate after the disassembly and visual inspection takes place.
We are regularly asked to include those worst case scenarios (and sometimes criticized for not) in order for a customer to get a full idea of total cost of repairs up front. However, if we include something in the estimate for a part we THINK needs to be replaced, without VISUAL PROOF that it needs to be replaced, it is AGAINST THE LAW. That is called committing insurance fraud.
If you really want a complete cost of repairs, we can provide you with this, but only AFTER disassembly of your vehicle.
es·ti·mate – a statement of the approximate charge for work to be done, submitted by a person or business firm ready to undertake the work.
Estimates, are just that. An approximate total, based on the visual damage to a vehicle. There is simply NO WAY to see EVERY single thing that has been damaged on a visual inspection alone.
Today I heard about a situation with a MAJOR insurance company (that I had previously respected) and wanted to make sure you knew some helpful things. Thankfully, our customer knew we were the best, and didn’t want to compromise their repairs OR safety by going with an insurance recommended shop. This poor customer had to hear their own insurance company try to steer them EIGHT different times, before they realized the customer knew what they were doing, and finally gave up.
Please know that “steering” (when an insurance company pushes you to do what you they want) is AGAINST the law. Yet COUNTLESS companies still do it. With phrases like, “if you choose Elite Collision, you MIGHT have out of pocket expenses.” Or “they aren’t an approved shop in our Network, so we won’t be able to warranty the work” or some narrative similar. They do their best to drive work to their approved shop.
WHY? It’s actually pretty simple. They SAVE MONEY at the consumers expense.
The contracts that are signed between a body shop and the insurance company DO affect your repairs. In order for those body shops to keep their preferred status with those insurance companies, they have to meet standards set by the insurance company. Those standards include overall repair costs, repairing parts vs. replacing them, how many aftermarket parts are used, NOT doing costly pre/post repair scans to name a few. Which means that more aftermarket parts will be used as they are cheaper, instead of replacing parts, they will repair the damaged parts which is again cheaper, possibly no pre/post repair scans will be done. If you do not know how important pre/post repairs scans are when repairing vehicles, please read here.
Do you REALLY think that the insurance company had our customers best interest in mind???
Two questions to ask an insurance company if they try to steer you:
- Do I have the right to take my car to a shop of MY CHOICE?
- Is steering me to your recommended shop against the law?
Please folks, see the insurance company for what it is. It is a for profit company. You have insurance to pay for the damage on your vehicle. The less they have to pay, the better for them.
Don’t let them sway you. Your safety matters!!!
We are a consumer advocate body shop. Your safety is our #1 priority! Give us a call, stop by and see it for yourself.
*DISCLAIMER: The Site cannot and does not contain legal advice. The information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.