Regulation Update!

There’s a theme in this month’s edition about community and being present. So, it’s only fair to continue that theme when we talk about regulations and the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). Many aren’t familiar with why the BAR was formed, us long time veterans know all too well the abuses consumers were facing before the BAR was formed.


Families were literally held hostage at gas stations on the Baker Grade to Vegas until the driver went and got the cash to bail out the family car after being told of the countless repairs it needed before going into the desert to Vegas and the list goes on. Sacramento received countless horror stories about these types of abuses and was going to create an agency to protect consumers from anything from charging for work that wasn’t done, or that was substandard (transmission rebuilding) selling of unnecessary repairs (ball joints) and this list goes on.


BAR was the law of the land and it soon became evident that shops were on notice that BAR was going to get you, if you didn’t comply with the rules and regulations. We had a “Cold War” between BAR and the automotive repair industry from 1972 through early 1992.  Then the BAR announced the Sear’s Case and countless others for recommending unnecessary repairs, charging for work that wasn’t done, incentivizing the sales of products and services that lead to over selling etc.


CalABC was formed around that time to change the relationship with the agency that regulated us, and what better way then to take this “community” and meet with “BAR Community” to address the many issues they were seeing by way of consumer complaints and trends in the industry. We worked hard to revise many of the outdated regulations and there’s still a considerable amount of work that needs to be done.


CalABC has been the progressive group, always taking ideas to BAR to consider forming or reforming regulations that created a win-win-win for all the stakeholders. The win for consumers, automotive repair shops and the agency that regulates our industry.


What’s developed is a keen dialogue with all the decision makers at BAR who value what we’re proposing and work tirelessly on regulations and revisions to existing regulations that make all the stakeholders win. In some cases, this takes the form of legislation at the Capitol where we work hand in glove with BAR and the California Legislature to work through the intricacies of the bill as is takes shape to become the law in the land.


We worked diligently to work with BAR and the industry and form alliances with other groups from the automotive repair industry and education to make things happen within our community.


Case in point, we fought to eliminate the BAR posting complaint history and at the time “Notices of Violations” (NOV) because it became nothing but a place for trial lawyers to grab your information from the site and sue your business (Trevor Law Group was infamous for their cases against shops). Working together we eliminated the NOV because it was an underground regulation that should have never caused a business to be sued because it was on the BAR website.


We worked on meaningful revisions to the Disciplinary Guidelines that took 12 years to finalize. Then we worked on creating an industry standard for the visual inspection on air conditioning systems before performed the services where the initial draft would have been impossible to perform for “free”.


We recommended to numerous BAR Chiefs and staff to revise the customer estimate and final invoice to enable the shops to move to today’s technology that allows texting, emails and any future technologies that would make it easier for shops to communicate with their customers and get them a final invoice all electronically. That took over 4 years to get completed.


We fought for the brick and mortar businesses when more and more internet-based services were advertising their services to be done at your home or place of business who weren’t even regulated by BAR. That took another 3 years to accomplish, but now any “mobile” service provider must be registered with BAR and follow the same rules and regulations as a brick and mortar business.


Lastly, it took over 7 years to get a regulation that would require all businesses who perform automotive repair in California or as our friend Mike Flanigan would say: “If you touch a car for compensation in this state, you need to be registered with the BAR”. Last year we finally got AB 3143 passed so that all repair providers must now be registered with BAR, as many oil changers and quick services providers weren’t required to be registered.


To CalABC, our members and our industry, it’s all about creating a level playing field for our community, that includes consumers, business and the agencies who regulate us. It’s this community that works tirelessly on your behalf in Sacramento so that you can remain focused on your business.




Americans with Disabilities Act ALERT!

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was intended to provide a level playing field for people who had disabilities such as being wheelchair bound to have access to products and services like everybody else.


On its face it is a well-intentioned objective. The Act provided for closer parking to businesses so a person in a wheelchair could get to a store easier.  Also, in a two-story establishment the ability to get to the 2nd level needed either an elevator or other means for access.


Again, the intent was if a walking person could get to the store and get to items for purchase available on the 2nd floor then you needed to provide access so a wheel-chair bound customer could take advantage of those items for sale too.


There are other situations for consideration too.  As an example – a guest would need to be able to use the restroom while in their wheelchair, so the restroom needed to be modified from what was a standard configuration to one which would allow access.  This reconfigured access has now become the new default standard and you can see the intent for providing this accommodation as well.


The problem comes when a business is in an old building with no easy way to do the necessary upgrades to bring that business into compliance.


In addition, as the rules and regulations change, it is hard for businesses to keep up with any new requirements.


Businesses try to take care of their customers and will do extra ordinary things to help.  However, in the case of an old building a small business would have to consider either closing or moving to a new location if there is no way for the building to accommodate the needed changes.


Also, if they don’t know all the needed changes, they may find themselves in violation of the law.


This gap of a business not knowing what they needed to do and/or the challenges of trying to figure out a way to accommodate the fixes has had the unintended consequences of unscrupulous types trying to use the law against the business for their own gain.


How this works is a disabled person who has no intention of doing business with a company looks for situations where the company is not in compliance and then uses that to extort money from the business to avoid expensive litigation and are often part of a legal team of trial lawyers who prey on small businesses. There are countless instances where a team of “lookers” or as we refer to these individuals that do that as an “ADA Drive by” on the hunt seeking where this compliance gap occurs.


Then they contact the business and tells them they are suing them for code violations of the ADA regulations unless they reach a settlement! As they know most businesses find it’s more cost effective to settle out of court.


If you think this doesn’t or can’t happen, you need to attend our upcoming CalABC “Lunch and Learn” where we are featuring a litigation attorney who specializes in this kind of practice.


Learn, so you will know how to protect yourself and your business from these “drive-by scammers”.


Find more information regarding the “Lunch and Learn” in this newsletter.





Repair Orders: Get it Right by Writing it Right

"Specific Estimate for a Specific Job"


Hello again industry members:


With this month’s installment of our series on “Get it Right by Writing it Right” we are continuing with a “Specific Estimate for a Specific Job”, where we will be focusing on the services side of the equation. The services we are going to focus on this month are Oil Changes, the K Services (5K – 90K) and Multi-Point Inspections (MPI).


During this series of articles, we are looking at the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Regulations’ and how they relate to successfully transacting with your customers.  Let’s take a minute and re-visit some important points from last month’s article:


BAR Regulations were built with two things in mind.


1.    Disclosure to the Customer. In other words, the Customer must know what the facility is doing to their vehicle.

2.    With disclosure at a 6th Grade Level.  The Customer must understand what repairs or services are being performed to their vehicle by the facility.

When the estimate is not written properly as described above, the facility is not allowed to collect any money or even perform the repair or service.


Below are examples of estimate wording that does not meet the “Specific Estimate for a Specific Job” standard.

1.    “LOF”                        

2.    “Oil Change”

3.    “30K Service”

4.    “Perform Multi-Point Inspection”

All four of these examples have the same thing in common, they don’t adequately describe what the actual service the facility will perform for the customer at a 6th Grade Level of understanding. Remember BAR doesn’t accept abbreviations or acronyms because it raises the question if the customer really understands what an LOF means? The wording in Performing a Multi-Point Inspection (MPI) listed in example #4 is very important especially when we are selling additional repairs/services via the MPI Inspection. If we get this wrong, then by rule we are unable to sell additional services found via an incorrect MPI estimate.


Corrected, Specific Estimate for a Specific Job:

1.    “Perform Lubrication, change oil and filter”

2.    “Perform Oil Change, replace oil, filter and drain plug gasket”

3.    “Perform 30K Service, replace oil, filter, drain plug, air filter and rotate & balance tires”

4.    “Perform Multi-Point visual inspection which includes checking under the hood fluid levels, cabin & air filter, brake material thickness, tire wear, exterior lights, wiper blades & undercarriage for major fluid leak”

All four above estimates examples disclose to the customer what the facility will perform for these services at a 6th Grade Level of understanding. Because we have met the standard the facility can do the Job and collect the Money while selling additional services/repairs.


TIP: When dealing with Electronic Repair Order software, they normally repeat the Estimate description of the service on the Invoice. Which means with a good description of the service on the Estimate, Technicians’ Notes are not needed on the Invoice since the service description also accurately describes what the Technicians are doing.  Then all that is left on the Invoice, is to properly charge out the parts and labor.


Recommendation: Related to last month’s article; a lot of facilities use software (electronic ROs) that enters many of the jobs you do, simply by entering an article or job number and it prepopulates a lot of that work on to the Repair Order. I would recommend you review each of your service jobs, as described today, to ensure they spell out all the details for the service job to be performed and remove the “jargon” or abbreviations that don’t spell out what was done.


Keep In mind with MPI’s and selling additional services or accelerated services, Original Equipment Manufacturer Maintenance Schedules are BAR’s Guidelines and using “Aftermarket” maintenance schedules or “Accelerated” maintenance schedules can get a shop into trouble. This will be discussed later in another article installment.


As said last month: In many cases customers complain either because their vehicle wasn’t serviced or repaired to their satisfaction or they didn’t understand what happened.  These two articles attempted to help explain how to stay out of trouble with both the BAR and your customer as it relates to clearly describing and documenting the services provided.



Stay tuned for our next installment!




Jerry Froehlich

JBS  “Advisement for Automotive Repair and BAR Issues”


Phone 909-649-5599

Friday, July 12, 2019

« Back