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Internet initiative will 'strip out' repair costs

Former Drake Insurance claims manager Doug McKinnon returns to the crash repair business next month with a new web-based initiative called Plexus Online.

The system, which allows repairers to log their available capacity daily onto the Plexus website, will automatically allocate work to bodyshops according to postcode area and handle customer service. It will operate via a call centre run by Ventura in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Mr McKinnon said the company was initially working with one major insurer, but was in negotiations with two or three others.

“Our aim is to strip out a lot of the costs that bodyshops face and make the whole system more streamlined for repairers and insurance companies,” he said. “There is far too much cost in this business that is completely unnecessary.

“Repairers are very good at what they do – repairing cars – but end up spending too much time and money on customer service. Our system takes over the customer care aspect and completely automates the process.”

Plexus Online is initially inviting Audatex and BodyMaster equipped bodyshops to apply to join the network, but Mr McKinnon said there would be no insistence on using any particular computer estimating or management system. He believes the system will speed up areas such as payment terms by converting estimates into invoices for automatic BACS payment.

Repairers will be charged a commission for work they receive which will be “in line with ABI guidelines”, but Mr McKinnon insists this is not just another accident management company.

“This is not another rape system for bodyshops,” he said. “We can reduce costs for bodyshops by allocating smaller postcode areas and giving them a customer interface.”

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