For the last year or so bodyshop owners in our area have been loosing lots of sleep over a new program State Farm has been rolling out across the country and now it has come to our town.
It’s the dreaded Parts Trader program that State Farm insists will make parts ordering more efficient. We as business owners see it as a Trojan Horse with the hidden agenda being to move the meager profits that in many cases barely sustain today’s body shops and parts suppliers into the deep and greedy pockets of the insurance giant.
I have been a State Farm Select Service shop for the better part of a decade now only because I believe their program WAS the most fair of all direct repair insurance programs. That is why I chose the State Farm Select Service as the ONLY direct repair program I ever signed onto. State Farm has been one of my favorite and most recommended insurance companies for years.
Now the tide has turned. I now feel like I have had a pet snake that just turned on not only me but also my fellow bodyshop owners and friends. We have built our businesses by hard work and numerous sleepless nights only to watch our profits shrink over the years due to inflation and insurance companies limiting our rates. Now State Farm is demanding that we join Parts Trader so our parts suppliers will bid on who will sell the parts the cheapest. I don’t feel it’s right to be told I must join Parts Trader to continue to be on State Farm’s Select Service program.
They could offer it as an option if we thought it was okay but we are told we must join to remain on their program. I’m done with the stress of trying to please both my customer and the insurance company. I choose to please my customers and it just can’t be done consistently without some profitability and freedom to buy parts from people I like, trust and give me over the top service. The Parts Trader program takes needed profit from us as well as our parts supplier. My experience has been when a business isn’t profitable the good service goes away.
Bottom line is our service will not change, you can still have your car repaired wherever you want it repaired. The big difference will be if you continue to be insured with State Farm they may try to push you away from us instead of towards us. It’s still your choice. I am fortunate enough to be more than just a collision repair shop so I can survive on all kinds of auto repair, maintenance and tire sales. If not for that safety net State Farm might have a strangle-hold on my business like so many of my colleges.