Source: Enterprise Rent-A-Car
The 3rd quarter of 2021 saw average Length of Rental (LOR) for collision replacement-related rentals increase almost three full days when compared to 2020. How did the final quarter of 2021 fare? Historically, 4th quarter LOR increases over the 3rd quarter, as a result of traditional patterns brought about by winter weather, animal accidents and increased travel volume around the holidays. To illustrate this point, 2020’s 4th quarter LOR was 13.1 days, an increase of 0.8 days over 2020’s 3rd quarter. 2019 saw a similar pattern – 4th quarter LOR was also up 0.8 days over the 3rd quarter. This trend has repeated itself every year since Enterprise started tracking these results.
In Q4 2021, overall LOR stood at 17.0 days, an increase of 1.8 days from Q3 2021 and of 3.9 days from Q4 2020. This includes replacement rentals for both Drivable and Non-drivable repairs as well as those for Total Loss claims.
Every state, plus DC, saw an increase. On the low end, Iowa had the smallest increase at 1.1 days, followed by Wyoming and South Dakota, both with 1.6-day increases. Hawaii (+1.9) was the only other state with less than a 2-day increase. On the other end, New Mexico had the largest increase at 5.6 days, followed by Louisiana (+5.5), Arizona (+5.3), DC (+5.0) and South Carolina (+5.0). Thirteen states had increases between 4.0 and 4.9 days, and another 23 states had increases between 3.0 and 3.9 days.
We consulted several industry experts to weigh in on the driving factors behind the rise in LOR, and all agreed on the main factors of staffing, backordered parts, claim processes, and increased severity – all of which contribute to a backlog of repairs.
John Yoswick, editor of the weekly CRASH Network newsletter, noted: “The average scheduling backlog hit new record levels again in the 4th quarter of 2021, reaching an average of 3.4 weeks nationally – twice the length of the typical 4th quarter backlog. The average backlog for the 4th quarter prior to the pandemic was consistently about 1.7 weeks.”
Last year, nearly half of all shops said they could schedule new work within one week or even sooner. In Q4 2021, only about 1 in 10 could say the same thing. In fact, a record 67% of shops said they are scheduling new work two weeks or more into the future, and 30% said they won’t get to new work for four weeks or more. “We are 13 weeks out on repairs due to body tech shortages,” the manager of a franchise location in the Dallas-Fort Worth market shared.
Mike Anderson, President and owner of Collision Advice, calls shop staffing the number one issue facing repairers today: “The shortage of employees is absolutely contributing to the backlog of repairs, which is driving longer cycle times.”
Greg Horn, Chief Innovation Officer for PartsTrader, shared: “We’ve seen an increase in the median delivery days for all part types in the fourth quarter. Rather than measure the average delivery times, which can dilute the impact of a single part delay, we measure the median (plus two standard deviations) to capture the impact of all parts. While all part types have experienced an increase, we are seeing some of the longest delays on OEM parts – particularly for foreign nameplates. We’ve implemented a national part locating service to assist our partners in locally sourcing backordered parts.”
Regarding parts, Yoswick added: “According to a CRASH Network survey in November, three of four shops (74%) said that the prompt availability of OEM parts was among the things that had changed significantly in their business this year, and more than a third (35%) cited that as their single biggest business challenge. Meanwhile, even more (43%) said the difficulty of finding new employees is their biggest challenge. Indeed, Horn added: “Parts alone are not driving the entire delay. Shops are telling us that qualified technicians are also an issue, and that shortage in technicians has caused work in process (WIP) to hit record highs.”
Anderson also noted the impact of the Omicron variant: “Repair facilities have been affected by the business disruptions seen with the latest COVID-19 variant,” noting that several shops he had been speaking with have had significant staff unavailable due to infections.
Q4 2021 LOR for claims noted as Drivable increased 3.2 days from Q4 2020 to 14.5. As with the overall numbers, all states, plus DC, had increases. Iowa (+0.4), Wyoming (+0.4), and South Dakota (+0.5) were each under a full day compared to Q4 2020. Thirteen states had increases of 4 days or greater, with Arizona (4.7), DC (4.6), and Louisiana (4.5) showing the highest increases.
For rentals associated with Non-drivable claims, LOR went from 19.0 in Q4 2020 to 24.3 in Q4 2021, a 5.3-day increase. Wyoming (up 2.0 days) and South Dakota (up 2.6 days) were the only states with less than a three-day increase. Thirty-one states, plus DC, had increases greater than five full days, with 15 of these seeing more than a six-day increase. New Mexico came in highest with an increase of 8.5 days, followed by Louisiana (+7.9).
Higher severity alongside larger repairs is a likely contributor to Non-drivable LOR increases, in addition to the repair backlog referenced earlier. According to Yoswick, “Some large, heavy collisions are being repaired rather than being declared total losses. Because of the microchip shortage’s impact on new vehicle availability and price, coupled with the used vehicle price increases, wrecked vehicles that may have been deemed a total loss are now being repaired.”
Anecdotally, some shops are seeing increased delays with estimate and supplement approvals, especially on larger hits. Rob Grieve, owner of Nylund’s Collision in Colorado, said that in some cases, they’re seeing delays of two weeks or more.
“It definitely requires us to have additional conversations with our guests when they ask about repair timelines,” said Grieve. Anderson agreed, saying that “delays with approvals and reinspections for non-DRPs, and in some cases, even DRPs, are becoming more prevalent.”
Total Loss Claims
Total Loss-associated LOR results also increased for all states, up 3.6 days to 17.6. North Dakota saw the smallest increase at 0.2 days, while Alaska had an increase of 0.7 days. DC had the highest increase of 7 full days, followed by Washington (+6.2), Oregon (+5.5) and Hawaii (+5.4).
A nearly four-day increase in LOR year-over-year may be reflective of many causes as discussed above but will require the efforts of the entire industry to solve. Enterprise is committed to working with insurers, repairers and suppliers to help address these trends.
Through foundational support provided by the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Enterprise is spearheading the Collision Engineering Pilot Program in partnership with Ranken Technical College. The program, designed to attract and develop entry-level talent to fill essential roles within the collision repair industry, is piloting at four schools nationwide.
The quarterly LOR summary is produced by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Through its ARMS® Automotive Suite of Products, Enterprise provides collision repair facilities with free cycle time reporting with market comparisons, free text/email capability to update their customers on vehicle repair status, and online reservations. More information is available at armsautosuite.com.