The repair industry is warning the damage caused by forcing down the cost of repairs, while demanding more free services, such as courtesy cars, from bodyshops, will cause irreparable harm in the long run. The Retail Motor Industry Federation's Bodyshop Services Division is forging ahead with its campaign by launching a radical new task force, the Bodyshop Consultative Group, to tackle industry issues in the millennium.
The consultative group accounts for more than £300 million of repair business annually and will be speaking with insurers and work providers about issues including the cost of services. Although the RMI is working to ensure high standards among its members, it warns that there is little cash left for improving services or training staff when income is constantly squeezed by work providers wanting to push down prices.
The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association has adopted an equally hard line approach to the problem, with Ron Nicholson, the VBRA's director general, demanding an end to discounts demanded by work providers, which he blames for directly causing the downfall of many bodyshops. Calling for insurance companies and fleets to start taking more interest in the plight of bodyshops, he said: 'If the insurance companies align their motoring premiums more realistically, which are currently among some of the lowest in Europe, this would enable them to treat repairers with a little respect. We are at crisis point and the begging bowl is out.'