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Relationships wither

Bodyshop satisfaction levels with industry suppliers remain poor, according to the 2005 Sewells Bodyshop Opinion Survey.

However there are some exceptions, most noticeably with the paint distributors, who achieve the highest rating with 81%.

Just 62% of bodyshops are satisfied with insurers and 61% with estimating system suppliers, highlighting the current strain on relationships between the repair sector and work providers.

“This year’s survey has very little good news,” says author Chris Oakham. “Our poll of insurance labour rates, for instance, confirmed that body-shops are operating at unsustainably low levels of profit. 

“The average insurance rate of £24.36 only produces a margin of around 60% after paying productive staff.  No other trade operates on less than 66%. Bodyshops clearly need more profit to invest in equipment and skilled staff.”

The value of the body repair market has fallen for the second consecutive year, following several years of zero growth, but the report states that the trend in market value could be much worse than the latest results indicate, as respondents reports of annual sales can lag behind financial year-ends.

However, industry analyst Robert Hadfield is confident that the next 12 months will see an improvement in relationships with insurers in the industry.

“The projected rate of decline in the number of bodyshops is something that will concern insurers which is why, I believe, relationships are showing signs of improvement,” he says.

“There is a long way to go before repairers’ balance sheets will be fully restored and investment plans reinstated, however, but I’m nevertheless hopeful that next year’s survey will show a marked improvement in repairer-insurer relations.”

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