Estimates are a big part of the collision repair business. But how far do you need to go? Can you work from the insurer’s estimate and provide supplemental estimates as necessary? Or should you “start from scratch” and do a full estimate of your own before beginning? Like so many things in life, attempting to cut corners here can actually cost you in the long run. There may be times when working from the appraiser’s estimate will save you time, but usually there are bigger benefits to going the extra mile and writing your own, including:
You’ll Catch Hidden Damage
Insurance appraisers do their best to be thorough (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt here), but even the best ones are limited from the get-go. They’re not going to tear down a job to uncover all the damage, so it’s very likely their assessment will fall short. That internal bracket that got cracked and needs to be replaced? It’s up to you to spot it. It’s safe to assume that most jobs will have some extras like this, and they can add up over time. You’ll absolutely need to account for them. Now you might be thinking that’s exactly what a supplement is for. But don’t forget about the time factor. The sooner you order that part, the sooner you can complete the job and collect your bill. Adding a supplement after you’ve started the project and discovered additional issues will delay the whole process.
Because of how today’s vehicles are designed, that hidden damage can be more extensive, too. Cars and trucks are engineered to direct collision forces around the protected passenger compartment, which means there could be damage well away from the point of impact. Do a thorough estimate upfront, and you’ll have a better picture of the project from the start. That leads to our next point.
Developing a Blueprint
A full upfront assessment and estimate is the first step in the blueprinting process. Blueprinting involves both evaluating the project from the start and developing a plan from that evaluation. Taking the time to put together that strategy will help everything in your shop run more smoothly. You can:
- Order all the parts necessary upfront
- Account for all the tasks required and ensure you’re properly staffed
- Schedule time on frame rack or at the paint station as needed
In a body shop, surprise is a four-letter word. Blueprinting helps you cut down on that and other four-letter words across the board. An organized shop is a happy – and profitable – shop.
You Have Your Own Best Interests in Mind
We’ll still give the insurance appraisers the benefit of the doubt, but even the most conscientious ones aren’t looking out for your shop. But you are! Some insurance companies may be open to considering supplemental estimates and may even count on them, but you’ll be starting from a better position with a full one. Detailed, well-thought-out full estimates will give you more leverage from the start.
In the end, going to the hassle of writing a complete estimate will save you time and trouble over the course of the job. In fact, with all the benefits it provides, you might find it’s not really a hassle at all.
Ready to write a thorough estimate? Using measuring systems effectively can help. Learn how with our guide to Measuring Equipment Basics