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Steps to accurately pair work orders with the repair work

Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 06:00
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On the surface, matching a work order with a repair should be no great challenge. But this is the collision repair industry where even minor tasks can become very complicated and feed into even more sophisticated repairs. Indeed, as the complexity of vehicles and repairs has grown so has the difficulty in producing an accurate work order/repair match, with the result being re-dos, incomplete/unsafe work and lots of lost revenue.

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While you may believe your shop’s efforts have been up to snuff, there’s actually a very good chance you may be struggling, even if you haven’t noticed. One of the issues with matching problems is that they can be easily overlooked or the fault for their negative consequences is placed elsewhere. Then there’s the fact that a shop can be doing well financially even with a brewing matching issue.

The only way many shops, including yours, can spot this problem is by actively seeking it out.

(Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes) A “back-end” estimator who can thoroughly blueprint a repair can be your ticket to accurate work order/repair matches that produce more revenue

Use the following information to determine if your shop could be doing a better job matching the work order to the job. Turn to the steps included here to fix the problem.

The core of the issue

Michael Bradshaw is a 14-year industry veteran, Director at Large for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and Operations Manager of K&M Collison in Hickory, N.C., which holds fourteen OEM certifications. Bradshaw recently hosted a presentation at the NORTHEAST Auto Show on proper blueprinting for structural repairs and has consulted with other shops to help their businesses.

Bradshaw says the failure of work order/repair matches doesn’t occur so much during or after the repair (when the work is being checked) but when the estimate and damage analysis are performed, long before any work is done. The first part of the problem: Too many repairers rely on a “front-end” estimator who doesn’t have repair experience or fully understand the collision repair process.

How much work is involved with a typical quarter-panel replacement?

Michael Bradshaw hoped to open minds and give repairers plenty to think about with his presentation at the NORTHEAST Auto Show on the structural repairs this work can include. One of his points was this these tasks need to be addressed during repair blueprinting.

Just a few of the operations to be considered while repairing a 2011 Audi A6 Avant included:

  • Pre-measure
  • Unibody or fixture setup (fixture rental cost)
  • Cover/protect vehicle and removed components
  • Structural realignment pulls or pre-pull for removal
  • Removal of cavity wax, grease, seam sealer, tar or any materials that would affect repair processes
  • Removal of adjacent components (airbags, bumpers), doors, electronic modules, glass, headliner, hinges, interior trim, lamps, rocker molding, seatbelts, trunk lid, wheels and wiring
  • Test fit/alignment of structural components
  • Adhesive application
  • Adhesive cleanup
  • Adhesive bench cure time
  • Repair any welding burn damage to adjacent panels previously outlined
  • Wash/tack after repairs
Consider whether your shop would correctly blueprint and charge for this work.

“Shops need to have a ‘back-end’ estimator who works out in the shop and who can work with the technician during vehicle disassembly to blueprint the repair,” Bradshaw says.

Moreover, this back-end estimator needs to have repair experience to blueprint the job properly.

Without an understanding of the repair process, estimators have to rely almost solely on software to write a work order. Bradshaw says this software frequently doesn’t outline every aspect of a repair. “If it’s a quarter-panel replacement, the estimator selects the quarter-panel repair option. That selection isn’t going to include all the tasks that are necessary to do the job,” he explains.

This fact only turns up later when the tech notices. Then, says Bradshaw, the tech typically notifies the estimator who orders the additional parts but frequently neglects charging the necessary labor.

(Photo courtesy of GM Media) Michael Bradshaw, Operations Manager for K&M Collison, says his shop requires back-end estimators to take the same training as techs to ensure they have a full understanding of repair processes.

Lost labor revenue isn’t even the worst fallout from an incomplete work order.

Critical work that’s initially overlooked may not be performed at all. This includes calibrations needed to return safety and other vehicle systems to working order, leaving shops open to come-backs and liability for unsafe repairs.

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