Industry challenged to make the change stick
19th October 2021Tweet
The motor claims sector is at risk of giving up all the positive changes introduced during the pandemic and reverting to type.
That was the stark warning issued during a compelling session at ILC’s inaugural Exclusive Motor Claims Conference, held at London’s Landing FortyTwo recently.
The session, entitled, ‘Market dynamics in a changing world’, saw panellists Neil Garrett, sales director, Audatex UK; Calum McPhail, head of liability claims, Zurich UK; Laura Richards, senior business development manager, vehicle parts and accessories, eBay; Tom Rumboll, chief executive officer, Synetiq; Stuart Sandell, assistant vice president, sales, UK and Ireland, Enterprise Holdings; and Dave Sargeant, managing director, Gemini Accident Repair Centres, tackle a range of issues from green parts to supply chain.
However, it was the rallying cry to make the most of the opportunity for change presented by Covid-19 that resonated.
Dave said, “The pandemic proved we can work differently and we saw the early signs of that. But my greatest worry is that we won’t continue to change. I think we’ve almost stopped changing already. There is no new normal; we’ve just gone back to where we were and I hope we haven’t missed this opportunity. We were forced to work with our partners and find a new way but have gone back to where we were.”
Tom agreed. He said, “I don’t think the need for change has fully registered. We can all sit here and say it’s our responsibility to work together, but when we get back to our day jobs what are we actually going to do differently?”
He suggested that lasting change will only be driven by two things: profit and the customer.
In terms of the latter, green parts is a perfect example. Previously dismissed by many as too complex with a host of ‘unknowns’, the environmental argument has altered perspectives profoundly with consumers and businesses following suit.
Laura said, “We sell a new car part every two seconds. We sell a recycled car part every six seconds but two years ago it was every eight seconds, so demand is increasing significantly. Younger audiences want sustainable products.”
ebay now has more than six million listings for used vehicle parts with an established certification programme assuring their quality and provenance, but others in the market need to follow suit.
Dave said, “There are not enough players in the industry supplying green parts. Those who are doing it are doing a brilliant job – supply is good and the quality of the parts is good – but there is just not enough parts in the basket because public attitudes have changed; they are happy with more green parts in repair now.”
The use of recycled parts is an aspect of much wider sustainability argument facing the sector, one that Tom says is not a ‘nice to do anymore, but an essential part of future strategy’.
However, it is just one of many immediate and longer-term challenges.
In the short-term the supply chain issue is wreaking havoc across all industries. The sense is that it will get worse before it gets better, which spells bad news for sectors that survive on just-in-time deliveries.
Meanwhile, the continued development of new tech remains an issue and Tom fears that slow adopters could find themselves overtaken by new players.
He said, “Ours is an industry that’s been slow to change, but disrupters are coming in using new technologies and the cost of service in their model is much lower than the cost of service in ours.”
Neil said, “Technology in customer service is accelerating but are we where we need to be?”
He continued, “I think open collaboration is key. Being brave enough to ask if we can link things is vital – unless you ask you don’t know. I think sometimes we are stuck in a world of being afraid to ask these questions.”
Ultimately though, the underlining focus behind every decision must be the customer and although there are fears that the industry is reverting back to type, the will remains to create a more sustainable and viable industry.
Calum said, “We have to be aware that we have an end-user customer and they need to be looked after. They will drive change through their expectations and attitudes, and we will only be able to meet that change if we work together.”
Stuart agreed, “You can look at challenges in isolation, but they all impact each other. All the challenges are shared challenges. It’s not your challenge or my challenge, it’s our challenge and if we don’t support each other then we’ll never get better.”