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Some Auckland collision repairers say it’s hard to tell how much of the current drought in work is due to Covid and how much to IAG’s new panel shop.

IAG’s East Tamaki Repairhub has repaired over 2,000 vehicles since it opened in November last year. It concentrates on non-structural repairs which are completed, on average, within three days. IAG has declared the trial site a success and now plans to open more.

A few of the repairers near the new facility say they noticed a drop off in demand in January and February this year, soon after Repairhub opened and before the first pandemic lockdown. In late August, incoming work was down by over 40 percent, but the bulk of this was likely to be linked to the second, Level 3 lockdown.

At the beginning of the year, many Auckland panel shops had wait times of three to even eight weeks before they could start a new job. In late August, they were looking for jobs to fill the workshop the next day.

“It’s tough at the moment. I’ve heard of lots of repairers who’ve had to lay off staff or reduce their hours,” says one repairer.

Another says it seems unfair for IAG to be able to control the workflow into Repairhub, ensuring it was kept busy, while its approved repairers are scrabbling for jobs. IAG says it carried out no work under Level 4 and worked within the social distancing restrictions of Level 3.

Yet another is concerned at how he will pay off the equipment he’d bought to become an approved repairer if the drought continues. IAG says they are supporting the approved repairers in the East Tamaki area and making sure work still flows their way.

The company’s Executive General Manager Claims, Dean MacGregor, says, “Our customers get to choose which repairer they go to, whether that is a member of our approved repairer network, Repairhub or otherwise.”

IAG had previously stated it was driven to take on its own repairs because no-one was offering the scale of efficient, process-driven operation it needed. They also believed the customer experience could be improved.

Dean says, “We have seen significant improvements in the amount of time taken for a repair to be completed.”

The company already has a partnership with Repair Management New Zealand in Albany. This is part of the Australian Gemini chain of workshops. It too specialises in light and medium repair using systems and process that ensure a fast turnaround.

IAG is now looking for more sites in Auckland and other cities where it could open a Repairhub.