He then proceeded to pull up page after page of data on the big screen to demonstrate the proof exists.
The Valenzuelas encouraged all to take the first step and complete the VRS survey (laborratesurvey.com) which collects shops' posted rates (or door rate), the amount they determine to be the cost for properly fixing vehicles based on equipment, certifications, training and then some.
"Market rates are rates that you [body shop owners] should determine. Insurance companies don't determine these rates unless you let them," explained Richard. "What is interesting is that they [insurance companies] will never show you any data. They just tell you what the rates are in your market and you are supposed to just believe them."
"It's time to stop operating under this belief and start fighting back with accurate data which puts 'bullets in the chamber,'" he suggested.
To further prove their point, a VRS search was done to show what shops are reporting as their posted rate for body work. The results were significantly higher than where New Jersey's so-called prevailing labor rate currently stands. It also brought up 200-plus insurance documents which serve as proof that insurance companies will pay more for this work.
The VRS system also allows subscribers to search insurance documents to see if companies are paying for certain procedures. With this kind of knowledge, a shop owner can counterargue when being told "we don't pay for that."
"This is hard data. We aren't making this up. We are taking it right off the insurance documents. Data is the only way you are going to win this war. You can't win this war by rejecting the data. What proved the world wasn't flat? Data," stressed Richard.
"We can change our mindset. If you think your industry is just the way it is and it's never going to change, you probably won't survive," shared Sam.
Encouraging shops to get on board with the system by taking the survey is also a key in uniting the industry as strength in numbers can go far.
Stressing this importance to the association members, AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee said, "If we all start bringing it up, if we all stick together, we can make a change."
"With the Variable Rate System, shops now have a strong basis for their argument that the current labor rates being paid by most insurers does not reflect the true fair and reasonable labor rates that shops deserve for the services they provide," stated AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant.
For more information on AASP/NJ, visit aaspnj.org.