John Shoemaker says too often shop estimates “create more questions than answers.”
In a recent presentation focused on more effective and detailed documentation of the collision repair process, Shoemaker showed an example of an estimate on a 2015 Audi Q7 that listed the exterior color only as “gray."
“But when you go to PaintScratch.com and look up that car, there are three grays shown,” said Shoemaker, a business development manager for BASF.
The painter clearly can determine which is correct when the vehicle reaches the paint shop, Shoemaker said, but given that the three grays vary by whether they are pearl effect or metallic, is the estimate written properly?
“When I look those (grays) up in our mixing system, there are three totally different costs and processes to replicate that color,” Shoemaker said. “If you just list ‘gray,’ are you getting paid correctly? If you have insurers who say they want you to blend within the panel, is that an acceptable practice with a color that has pearl in it? No. But if you have just ‘gray’ listed, you’ve created a question as to whether or not that can be done.”
Similarly, he said, a single line on an estimate for a “pre-repair scan” with a labor time is more likely to get push-back from the bill-payer than it would if more detail were included.
“It doesn’t tell what you did or what you found,” Shoemaker said. “What do they want to know? They want to know what scan tool you used. That tells them how accurate the scan is. They want to know what you found.”
He showed a sample estimate with this information spelled out, with labor time for diagnosing each trouble code found.
“The fault, then a remedy, and then the calibration, all itemized separately on there so that, first, you get paid properly, and second, you validated that not only did you know about that code, but you did something to fix it,” Shoemaker said.
Offer more detail on other common estimate line items, he recommends.
Listing “restore corrosion protection” doesn’t spell out what you did and what products were used.
“It’s just a generic line item, with no justification, no supporting documentation,” he said.
He said shops too often fail to itemize all the clips, fasteners and other parts like wire connectors used in repairs.
“Everything you buy has a part number,” Shoemaker said. “I teach people all the time: If it goes on the car and leaves with the car, it’s a part. That’s what people forget. They think, ‘They’re shop supplies.’ Shop supplies are towels or stuff you use to clean the floor. Parts are anything that goes on the car, that leaves with the car.”
In another panel discussion at the conference, two speakers also focused on what it takes to get paid for necessary procedures, such as complex calibration of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS.)