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Protecting your shop with bulletproof records

Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 07:00
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  • But having securely stored your files someplace where you will always have access to them isn’t going to help you if those files aren’t complete and bulletproof — able to demonstrate to anyone looking at them what was done to the vehicle and why. That’s why for every job, you should be recording and storing the following:
     
  • Notes about intake conversations you have with the customer about what led to the damage, along with notes about communication you have with the customer throughout the repair process.
     
  • Every version of the estimate along with the final invoice for the job.
     
  • Documentation from pre- and post-repair scanning of the vehicle.
     
  • Copies of handwritten or other notes processed internally about supplement items or changes to repair procedures while the vehicle was in-process.
     
  • Copies of quality control forms that move through the shop with the vehicle.
     
  • Copies of all OEM repair procedure information you downloaded and used for the job.
     
  • Images of the vehicle pre- and post-repair, along with in-process steps such as welds, destructive weld testing completed, color match let-down or spray-out panels, damaged parts, etc.
     
  • Documentation about safety checks performed, whether or not they were billed for, such as inspection of seat belts.
     
  • Documentation of interactions with the insurer involved. If an adjuster says, “We’re not going to pay for that,” make a note of it. (You still need to do whatever it is they aren’t paying for, if it’s a required part of a quality repair, but note their decision in your file.)
     
  • Documentation of internal conversations about the job, such as between the parts department or technicians and estimators.

The estimating systems offer one option for maintaining some of these records. But I know shops that also just maintain a Microsoft Word file for each job, in which they document by date any communications they have with anyone regarding that job.

Completing these steps will help you create a file that will clearly document your process, helping protect yourself should a “bullet” ever come your direction.

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