CIECA Founder Erick Bickett Predicts Next Ten Years of Collision Repair

Erick Bickett, the founder of CIECA and the past CEO and co-founder of ACAB Automotive Group and FixAuto USA, presented”Back to the Future of Collision Repair & How CIECA Brings All Industry Segments Together” during CIECA’s June CIECAst.

by Chasidy Rae Sisk

CIECA’s June 30th CIECAstfeaturedErick Bickett, the founder of CIECA and the past CEO and co-founder of ACAB Automotive Group and FixAuto USA,who presented”Back to the Future of Collision Repair & How CIECA Brings All Industry Segments Together.”

Paul Barry, executive director of CIECA, kicked off the webinar by welcoming attendees and introducing Bickett. “Today, we’re going to talk about the technological advancements that have powered much of the change over past years,” Bickett began. “I believe you can look back to predict the future; wisdom comes from experience.”

Traveling back to 1991, Bickett recounted the early days of DRPs, when shops were required to subscribe to ADP, CCC and Mitchell in order to deal with all the country’s top insurers. This required three separate estimating systems, modems, printers, license fees, and education on all three systems, in addition to the extensive amount of time needed for data entry.

In the early 1990s, the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) approved a proposal to start a new committee, and from that, 20 founding companies came together from 17 diverse industry segments to found CIECA in 1994. This collaboration immediately started solving problems, establishing interoperability among the three systems and creating the EMS standard. Bickett praised CIECA members who support and protect the organization by holding their partners accountable for using the organization’s intellectual property.

“CIECA is now recognized as THE electronic standards setting organization for the collision industry,” Bickett said, stressing the organization’s founding principles which include providing “a forum and methods to develop and maintain objective, unbiased and uniform Electronic Commerce standards and guidelines that encourage open competition and free choice, and are in the best interest of all entities conducting business with and within the collision industry.” He emphasized, “The balance of representation must be maintained.”

Among the many benefits identified as a result of integrating, improvements in cycle time is a prime example. These efforts allowed cycle time to improve from 25 days in 1991 to 11 days in 2020, an impact that “benefits consumers as well as everyone involved in the repair,” Bickett claimed.

Referencing a 1997 article in which he anticipated what the collision claim handling experience would look like by 2007, Bickett identified the technology he predicted that has since come to fruition, including video conferencing, traffic control systems, collision sensing vehicles and more. He explored how those technologies have been implemented on his Tesla, compared to his other two vehicles, noting, “The technology that has been implemented is amazing.”

Bickett then looked at the COVID-19 experience and how the collision repair industry implemented changes overnight, such as working remotely, curbside service, pick up and drop off options for consumers, new technology implementation, and other items. “What did we learn?” he asked. “If you’re truly an entrepreneur, there’s a silver lining to be sure. As business comes back, evaluate the things you had to do during COVID and continue to implement the best practices.”

Before sharing his predictions for the next decade, Bickett identified the general premises for his predictions. “Automation drives predictability, which drives efficiency and lowers friction and cost. We were all blessed with ‘free will.’ Customer demand choice, so solutions must offer choice. Solutions that solve and address human needs will win; if it’s not solving a human need, it has less chance of successful implementation. Real-time customer experience feedback will drive most decisions, and the most efficient, complete solution at the lowest cost that supports human need will win.”

The first industry prediction that Bickett explored was his belief that electric vehicles will enjoy significant growth in the next ten years, requiring less maintenance. He also expects risk to play a huge role in future interactions with insurers. “Insurers will only refer vehicles to those repairers who are certified and verified to have the equipment, training and experience to perform the repairs,” he explained.

“The car build and the driving behavior will be a large factor in underwriting insurance policies. This will give the manufacturer significant competitive advantage in offering insurance to the driving public,” Bickett continued. “Manufacturers will underwrite and rate policies, and they’ll partner with insurers to provide claims services. Manufacturers will have absolute influence in the settlement of claims through a direct relationship with the car owner.”

Frequency of larger collisions will go down per capita as well, according to Bickett, due to advanced systems that eliminate many collisions. Humans will override those systems, and incentives will be offered to encourage drivers to “behave.” Electronic automatic transfer of data will continue to be a topic of discussion as the industry determines who owns the data and what data is being collected, and Bickett believes, “We’ll have cars talking to traffic systems someday.”

Bickett also expressed, “Larger collision repairers will have significant advantage over individual independents, and single shops owners, operating by themselves in metro markets, will not survive, unless they’ve found a niche market. Franchising will grow in market share to match consolidators and large corporate-owned operations. Measurement will expose and enable the most efficient repair solution, mitigating the inefficiency of perceived savings, and risk sharing among stakeholders will become the rule, not the exception. Cycle time and touch time will become virtually the same over the next ten years.”

Looking at vehicle retail, Bickett predicted that Internet ordering of vehicles will expand rapidly with a limited number of manufacturer showrooms. “The current dealership model is way too expensive, and the next generation is much more apt to order new vehicles online,” he predicted. “Legacy automakers who don’t make these adjustments will lose significant market share. Manufacturers will decouple the referral relationship between the retail dealership in referrals to body shops. Currently, retail dealerships who refer to body shops are not really focused on making sure the shop is certified, qualified and verified to fix the car. These service writers are more motivated by baseball tickets, lunches and other rewards, which is what drives their decisions. This is unsafe, and the manufacturers will decouple this through marketing advertising information distribution to the driving public.”

Describing what he believes CIECA should do to drive the most value in supporting the industry, Bickett recommended, “At the very least, industry leaders should dare to dream and then define the future relative to electronic commerce. They need to explore how we can shrink cycle time and drive more value to consumers and all industry participants, but the question that needs to be answered is how will we do it, not why can’t we do it.”

CIECA then opened the webinar up for a question-and-answer session.

As the June CIECAst concluded, Barry reminded attendees the webinar is eligible for credit toward an industry-recognized professional designation through the Automotive Management Institute (AMi).

For more information on CIECA and the July webinar, visit To watch a replay of the June CIECAst, visit this link

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