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Simple steps shops can take to help estimators improve

Friday, May 4, 2018 - 07:00
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In last month's column, I wrote about the alarming lack of recent training most shop estimators have received, and some of the negative consequences that has for those businesses. 

It was by no means a shameless plug for the estimating training I offer. There are plenty of options out there. Toyota University offers training to those with an affiliation with a Toyota/Lexus dealer. Mike Anderson of Collision Advice offers estimating training. I-CAR has courses helpful to those in the estimator role. Check with your paint company about estimating training they may offer. 

But one key is the training needs to be RECENT. No one would deny that vehicles continue to change dramatically. That alone is placing new demands on estimators. Good estimating training continues to evolve to help estimators meet these new challenges. I had some students in my estimating class in late 2017 comment on how different the class was than when they’d taken it just a year earlier. 

Owners and managers who have estimating experience — and even estimators who are self-motivated to improve — can also take steps to improve a shop’s estimating aside from getting new training on a regular basis. One of the approaches I recommend is creating a charge-out guide for items that aren’t in the estimating systems. That helps create consistency for an estimator — and across multiple estimators at a business — as to how things are charged on estimates and invoices. 

I also challenge estimators to think about repair procedures that are being done regularly as part of a repair but are often left off of estimates. Start with the low-hanging fruit — the items that are the easiest to negotiate. If you’re not getting paid to disconnect and reconnect the battery terminal, start with that. If you’re not getting paid for removing and reinstalling wheels, start with all those wheels. Even if these items account for only one- or two-tenths of a labor hour, that’s a lot of money over the course of a year. 

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