I recently attended a national industry function during which a shop owner posed a very good question to the audience, "Why can my administrative office staff re-key an estimate faster than my experienced estimators can create a new one?"
He had been tracking the amount of time it took his administrative staff versus his estimators in an effort to project the number of people required to handle the shop's workload. That concept led to an interesting question: when does damage analysis end and estimate documentation start?
The shop owner suggested that additional estimating software training offered the sole answer to his problem. Now, I believe training usually works wonders, but in this case, the answers didn't lie in estimating software alone.
Today's complicated cars – along with key performance indicator (KPI) compliance documentation requirements – entail vast amounts of core training provided by multiple sources within our industry. Documenting OEM procedures and providing details for cost-effective and quality repairs requires knowledge at a much higher level than re-keying an estimate line by line.
The consensus was that the shop owner's administrative staff could copy an estimate consistently faster because no decisions as to proper repair procedure, parts sourcing or KPI compliance were being made. His experienced damage estimators were making decisions about how to repair the vehicle while entering the damage into the estimating system.
The bottom line is that properly documenting the repair plan at the time of damage assessment with an understanding of all of the repair requirements will always require more time. And using the tools available in the estimating software helps estimators make good decisions, understand the implications of substrates and document cost-effective parts procurement and all required procedures.