Solera Canada


From the blog

Names in the News: Kelly Merchant


Kelly began his career with Audatex in October of 1990 as a Technical Training Specialist in the ADP Claims Services Group. Bringing with him his expansive experience in underwriting, Kelly played a pivotal role in the company’s growth throughout Western Canada. Being a licensed Red Seal Auto Technician who is also currently working on the completion of his Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) certification, he is a key leader of Professional Services at Audatex and helps customers realize the full potential of our claims data solutions.

1. What is the most alluring aspect of Audatex that keeps you wanting to grow with it?

As I’m entering the 26th year as part of Audatex’s Professional Services team, I can still count on never having a boring day; the emphasis at Audatex to always push technology forward excites me. With every day bringing on a new challenge and being surrounded with super people to overcome them with, it’s what I wake up looking forward to–somehow, it matches my personality.

2. Being with the company for so long, what other areas of the organization have you been a part of?

When I first started, I was hired in Toronto to go West to support the company’s development of Western Canada. I was the only resource in the territory for many years until we introduced a solution for the collision repair industry. This led me to wear many hats, so I’ve touched on everything from sales to operations management. I’ve had the opportunity to see so many sides of the business and it has helped me put into perspective what clients really want. This is the reason why I can deliver on their needs today, as part of Professional Services.

3. How have you helped customers see the added value of Audatex’s solutions?

I think the added value of Audatex’s solutions goes beyond just streamlining the claims process. Through Insight™ (Audatex`s analytics solution) , I have been able to show my clients how to make sense of the data collected throughout the process so that they know their productivity levels and ability to meet KPIs. We’ve all been hearing the buzz around big data nowadays, and Insight™ is our answer to extracting meaningful value from all of the information collected.

4. Having helped so many customers, what would you say is the most common customer pain point that you’ve helped solve?

Cycle time. I don’t need to think about this one. For our insurance clients, there are only a few times they come into contact with their customers: either for an insurance quotation / renewal or when there’s a claim. The claim experience is the defining moment in their relationship where the insured can see why all those years of premiums were worth the expense. This is where cycle time comes into play; how quickly the insurer’s collision repair partners can have the vehicle repaired and back to the owner or, in case of a total loss, how quickly a settlement cheque is provided to them. The more efficient the entire process, the happier their customer is–and that’s how retention rates skyrocket.

5. What is the biggest misconception customers have about Audatex’s solutions when you first meet them?

I usually get the sense that they feel severity will increase if they use Audatex; in reality, it doesn’t! Take the example of a radiator support replacement. It requires so many labour hours to to complete a proper repair, and our system assigns hours to every step in detail to ensure accurate estimating which is something insurers and collision repair shops, like to see. At this point, chances of underestimating becomes very low. Yet this is also the reason why some new clients have the misconception that with us, claims severity just increases somehow.

6. Has there been any customer request that seemed impossible at the onset, but later became something you were able to deliver?

One client requested a large amount of customizations (over 30, I believe) and I really didn’t know if it could be done. For most deployments, we only receive one or two requests. What first seemed impossible, became reality after two years of planning, coding, testing, and implementation. I’m really proud to have been part of the project–you can say I view it as a true highlight of my career.

7. In this exciting future of innovation how has Professional Services helped in adding to innovation?

Professional Services is at the frontline of things, so we have the opportunity to hear from customers; how they feel about our product and what they’re really looking for. This feedback has been pivotal to our success, as we always find ways to communicate this back to our development team in order to push our solutions’ innovation further.

8. You meet with so many customers in any given month. What have you heard them say they are most excited in seeing in the upcoming year?

It’s definitely about a tablet version of our Audatex Estimating. Having a mobile, “lite” version of the estimating app that can work on the mobile device platforms such as iOs and Android is something my customers always hope to see on the horizon. Also applications that engage the insurance customer allowing the insurer, insured and collision repairer to interact to a greater degree.

9. In the recent years, what has been the one innovation in the industry that you feel we now can’t live without?

Analytics and business intelligence coming from Insight™. As they say, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. We’ve always been at the forefront of reporting and were the first solution that provided claim-level reporting in Canada. While others only provided summaries of claims, we provided a breakdown of every claim. You can imagine how that data gave our clients the edge to better manage their business.

10. Seeing how the industry has changed over the years, what do you see Professional Services’ role to be in the upcoming few years and beyond?

I can see us having a two-pronged role in the future. On one hand, with the increasing mergers occurring in the industry, our job will be to help integrate the existing processes of both companies to ensure file management remains consistent across the consolidated company. On the other, we will shift more towards consulting to help refine workflows within insurance companies to enable a leaner operation.

11. Although the industry has changed over the years, what do you feel is important that should be preserved and stay the same?

So much has changed, but one thing has remained constant: the need to have quality interactions between the insurance company and the driver of the damaged vehicle. The claims experience is one opportunity where the insurance company can impress their customer and this will never change. In fact, my clients tell me it’s their focus to improve on this continuously. And I’m proud to say that our solutions play a role in helping them with it.

12. If you have one advice for the up-and-coming leaders at Audatex, what would it be?

Learn to embrace change to a point where we can anticipate it; this is how we can really help our clients stay competitive in this ever-changing industry..

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