Are Estimates Obsolete?

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With vehicles becoming more complex by the hour, does it actually make sense to estimate what it might cost to repair them?

Given that our industry has largely become a precision and performance-based business, it makes sense to ensure accuracy is a top priority at every stage of the repair.

Granted, there’s a bigger than ever need to ensure that estimates are as precise as possible for completing a repair, but is the concept of the estimate itself actually redundant?

A couple of months ago, I visited a MSO in Southwestern Ontario. The business has two locations, both of which are relatively small in size. What’s more incredible, is the amount of work that goes through each facility in relation to its size. Both facilities are OEM certified and have become the go-to collision centres in the area, whether its insurance, dealer, or customer pay work.

What’s also interesting is that the shops don’t really perform estimates, even though one of the business owners actually trained as an estimator.

“We try to give an exact repair cost,” he says. “We always try to do the work thoroughly and that even includes dismantling a car free of charge.” He says the shop does this because not only does providing an accurate repair cost avoid any potential for supplements, it also reduces the chance of delays.

Yes, spending half a day to dismantle and inspect a vehicle, as opposed to doing a quick 15-minute estimate and sending it to the insurance carrier actually saves time.

Because square footage is limited, the shop won’t even begin a repair until all the parts are available and that includes items that might seem trivial such as licence plate bracket screws or hood insulation push pins.

Once every part is on-site and accounted for, the repair process will begin. Again, doing so saves time and avoids any delays or supplements.

One of the biggest hurdles still existing in our industry today, is inaccurate or poorly prepared estimates. In the U.S. alone, close to 30 percent of all collision repairs will end up requiring a supplement.

And then, the fact that the supplement has to be approved by the client in order for the work to proceed adds further costly delays to the repair process, on which the margins are already often wafer thin.

While a complete teardown might initially seem like a lot of effort, adopting such a practice can reap bigger rewards long term. Getting back to the shop I visited, the tear down and accurate cost assessment has witnessed very significant KPI gains, especially since the shop’s vendor partners have also bought into the concept.

A good example, are the parts suppliers the shop relies on for collision repairs. Today, if some parts required for a particular repair are delayed 2-3 days, then the entire order will wait to be fulfilled, meaning that 60 percent of the parts don’t show up before and end up lying around and perhaps getting lost. Ok, so there’s a delay in the repair process beginning, but once it actually starts, the process is faster, more efficient and delivers better results in terms of both quality and cost.

Categories : Collision


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