Baffa Addresses Local Body Shops
Baffa Addresses Local Body Shops
Florida Automotive Journal
Lou Baffa, past president of the Auto Body Association of America (ABAA), spoke to ABAA members at their convention in Hollywood, Florida. He began by explaining that he was talking to the members for one reason only: to pass on information and know - how. "To let you know you've been taken advantage of for 20 years." According to Baffa, insurance companies are becoming more and more powerful, enabling them to create certain problems for body shop owners. Their power, claims Baffa, stems from the maneuvering of their lobbyists in Washington. His definition of a lobbyist is a man who goes to Washington with pockets full of money. What Baffa can't understand is where all that money is going.
Anit-trust laws, according to Baffa, can put a shop out of business almost at the drop of a hat. Theoretically, an insurance company could come down to Miami from New York and start making the rounds of body shops, telling each owner he must give the insurance company 10% discount on parts. If two body shop owners get together and decide on a price the collaborators are liable to go to jail.
Baffa said that many senators have become friends with ABAA because that association has taken the time and effort to tell them what is really going on in the auto industry.
Baffa then turned to the subject of insurance policies, saying that a policy is really a contract that doesn't require a signiture and is very seldom read. To bring out the latter point, Baffa asked how many ABAA members present understand the contents of an insurance policy . . . enough to discuss it intelligently. Two people in this room indicated they did. This, Baffa stated, is not a healthy situation. There are provisions in contracts all which all shop owners should be made aware of, and there are terms which they should understand and be able to use. For instance, the Elective Repair Law enables insurance companies to take an insured car involved in a collision out of the repair shop of the owners choice and put the wrecked auto in a repair shop of the company's choice. In other words, insurance companies "can legally take jobs away from us."
Baffa urged shop owners to familiarize themselves with two types of claims: 3rd party claim and 1st party loss. By using these terms with insurance company representatives, Baffa feels shop owners will not only gain more respect from insurance companies, but will aslo be in a better position to act as the middle man between customer and insurance company. A customer appreciates the help of the auto body shop owner in such matters as making sure insurance companies don't forget about the Loss of Use clause in contracts. This provides that an insurance company must in a third party claim, provide a rental car for the insured if repairs on the customer's car involves an extended period of time.
Baffa, a dynamic man, spoke of a shop owner whose only was of knowing whether he made a profit was to wait until all his bills were paid at the end of the month. "If I have money left over, I know I made money; if I don't, I know I lost money."
"No bookkeeping," exclaimed Baffa. "That's no way of conducting business . . . You must understand what you're selling and how to sell it . . . A professional does things for money . . . You've got to look at your shop, look at your time, look at your investment, consider how long it took you to know what you know . . . There is no such thing as being unlucky in business." Baffa claims a man can be lazy, guilty of just not knowing what he's doing, but certainly not unlucky.
Baffa recently went to Europe, visiting Italy, Germany and England, speaking to body shop operators and studying their different procedures and equipment.
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