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Monday, 08 June 2009 13:16

Franklin --- CAA Chapter Hosts Presentations on Refinish Materials Calculators

Written by Tom Franklin

The California Autobody Association Glendale Foothill Chapter meeting, on April 28th, featured speakers from three major providers of Refinish Materials Calculators. Wayne Krause and Brian Bragg from Mitchell presented Mitchell RMC. Bob Klem, president of PaintEx, presented PaintEx. Richard Palmer, President and CEO of Computer Logic, presented PMCLogic. Mr. Palmer traveled the farthest, coming from their headquarters in Macon, Georgia.

    All presenters agreed that shops have been using a formula that has long been outdated and that causes them to absorb paint and body material price increases unnecessarily. It is obvious that this must be changed. Just like the parts that are resold, the materials used must be listed, invoiced, and paid for.
    All three provided on-screen presentations of their products and gave the sizable audience a fairly good understanding of how the products compared to one another. The three products are quite different in many respects. Mitchell RMC can be a stand-alone product or an integrated feature with the UltraMate estimating product. PaintEx is very much a stand-alone, cost accounting product. PMCLogic can be easily integrated with any of the major estimating systems.
    Pricing on all three systems also differs greatly. Mitchell RMC, like the other Mitchell modules, has a straightforward monthly fee of $69. PaintEx has an annual fee of $475. And PMCLogic has a one-time activation fee of $295, plus a $99 monthly fee for one workstation or $145 for a multi-user license. A closer look at the details of each system should provide a better understanding of why there is such a difference in pricing.

The Mitchell RMC System

Brian Bragg began with an overview of their product. Features include:
● Costing for more than 8,500 paint codes from eight paint manufacturers, including four types of paint.
● Includes pricing for solvent and waterborne materials applications
● Displays and calculates refinish materials using the new Waterborne paint tables
● Automatically calculated Labor Totals include blend and overlap times
● Complies with various state requirements for itemization of refinish and body materials costs on estimates
    Bragg went on to suggest their product offers the following benefits:
► Provides exact cost calculation based on the specific vehicle’s paint type and color vs. flat dollar-per-hour method.
► Automatic costing virtually eliminates math errors
► Improves cost management and material profit margins
► Calculates the true costs for each specific vehicle repair
► Works easily with any estimating system
► Clear illustrations and translations in the Paint Code Locator
►RMC is available as a value-added feature in UltraMate advanced estimating software or as a standalone reference tool.
    Bragg added that RMC helps create accurate estimates by providing paint-specific materials costing according to paint code, method, color, type, and refinish labor time. He claimed that RMC also gives you instant access to the only automated, accurate, field-tested, and industry-accepted breakdown of actual costs of primers, colors, clear coats, additives, and other materials needed to restore vehicles to pre-accident condition.
    While many of the same features and benefits apply to both of the other systems as well, his competitors didn’t agree with this last characterization as the “only accurate, field-tested, and industry-accepted breakdown of actual costs.”

The PaintEx System

Bob Klem’s system has apparently been on the market for the longest time — about 12 years. Unlike the other systems, it doesn’t capture customer and vehicle information from the shop’s estimating module, but rather relies on pre-set defaults and cost-accounting values that Klem says are consistent with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices. An impressive list of  80 refinish materials items appears from which a user can select the ones to be included on the invoice. With one shop’s customization, we saw a list that had been expanded to 150 items. The simplicity of just entering basic customer and vehicle information and selecting the specific materials used to generate an immediate invoice has apparently appealed to many shop owners over the years. Although not as automated as the other two systems, with its lengthy track record the PaintEx system boasts of a long list of satisfied users. Klem said a new version of the software that will address waterborne paint elements would be available within a month or so.
    One Kentucky user said: “We have been using the PaintEx invoicing program for a few years now and so far it has worked every time. I just had a Geico job yesterday that was capped at $350 and had 29.0 hours of refinish on it. The price came up to $743. The adjuster kept trying to say part of the materials was included. I told him this is what was actually used no matter what is supposed to be included so this is what it costs with a markup. The last job for him they paid for everything except for razor blades and gloves. He’s the only one so far that caused any problems. Everyone else has paid right from the invoice, no questions asked.”

The PMCLogic System

Richard Palmer told us that PMCLogic from Computer Logic is linked via CIECA standards to all of the major estimating systems. With a 24-year track record in creating paint information software for many major paint manufacturers, plus already providing a paint materials inventory package, it was a natural step to develop a paint materials calculator program. Underlying the program is a vast database of industry manufacturer’s panel specific repair prices creating hundreds of templates covering each operation. The templates are based on “industry best practices” or OEM specifications. Each template contains a list of materials that would be most likely to be used in the replace, repair and/or refinish of a specific class of vehicle. We are told that details on each panel have been benchmarked by a selected group of industry experts and are continually updated based on repairer input.
    The on-screen demo showed that PMCLogic is visually oriented for ease of use. A vehicle diagram allows the user to select panels and structural items and click on as many primary and secondary impact points as necessary. Although you are given suggested quantities of each material for each operation, the user can make modifications to fit the job and also add for additional operations. The initial estimate can then become an invoice that itemizes and documents all of the paint and materials used in the repair process. A free demo CD was provided everyone at the meeting and can be obtained by going to [See Related Story Next Page.]

Confusion on Prices Used in the Sytems

The fact that Mitchell averages suggested prices provided by the top six manufacturers while PaintEx and PMCLogic selects the highest suggested price provided by a specific manufacturer seemed confusing at first. The difference lies in the fact that the latter two systems are asking the user to specify the manufacturer of a component, so that only that company’s suggested price appears. And since these prices are only to be “reference prices,” it is still up to the shop to adjust these suggested prices to fit reality.
    Many attendees were concerned with insurance acceptance of these products and willingness to pay the invoices generated by each system. It was noted that in the state of California, it would be illegal to invoice without specifying the items being charged. In fact, since these items are taxable, to not bill and collect sales tax would be a violation and could subject a shop to penalties.
    Most revealing was a show of hands of how few in the room are presently using one of these refinish materials calculators. These three very comprehensive presentations showed that, when consistently and properly implemented, any one of these systems would increase the amount a shop can collect for paint and body materials used.

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