People tend to look at me like a deer in the headlights when I tell them that their damage appraisals are not communicating effectively. As I explain why, I tell them that the damage appraisal should not only list the items damaged on a vehicle but also the reasons why the procedure is being performed and how it will be accomplished. Just like a news article, a damage appraisal should relay the who, what, where, why and how of a repair, and most damage appraisals I see create more questions than answers.
Just think for a minute about the number of people that will read your damage appraisal. The vehicle owner, of course, along with employees in a collision repair facility, parts vendors, sublet contractors, and if you are in a direct repair program, the insurer. All involved must know exactly what is going to transpire during the repair process, and the only document you have that will communicate any of those details is the damage appraisal.
Since the vehicle owner is the only one that can authorize a repair and is responsible for paying the collision center for the work being done, they must have a complete understanding of what is about to happen. The best way to accomplish this is by maximizing the use of the estimating system database and making thorough line notes. I say maximize the use of the estimating system because I am always noticing vague manual entries on damage appraisals. In many cases you can find the process in the estimating database and use the operations tab to select the process; then replace, repair, align, blend and refinish to further identify the repair. Once you have identified the process you can use a line note to clearly explain the who, what, where, why and how.
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Ensuring that a damage appraisal communicates properly is increasing in importance as vehicle systems become more complex. Vehicle manufacturers publish specific requirements for repairs on their vehicles and those requirements must be clearly identified in the damage appraisal. Some of these requirements are identified in the estimating system and can be easily moved to a line note while others must be copied from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) documents. The thing to remember is that each repair line should stand on its own and thoroughly explain what is required to complete the repair identified in that line.
As you research the OEM documents, you might find additional steps needed to complete an identified repair area. These could be calibrations, weld tests or corrosion protection directives. They should be added to the damage appraisal as a separate procedure with a line note relating it to the initial repair. As you add these separate processes to your damage appraisal, it will in turn do its job and illustrate how the repair will be accomplished.