From the Desk of Mike Anderson: Are You Giving Your Estimators the Time and Training Needed to Succeed?


We at Collision Advice recently reviewed some data on the average collision repair severity in each state, and not surprisingly, it has continued to rise. On a national basis, it’s now over $4,700, but in many states, the average is over $5,000, and there’s one state where the average is over $6,000.

But we wanted to drill down further to look not only at how average severity has changed over the past five years, but also how average number of labor hours per job have changed over that time.

Again, looking at the data on a state-by-state basis, average severity has risen by about $1,000 since 2019 in some states, and by as much as $2,000 in others. But more interestingly, the actual number of labor hours per job hasn’t risen that much.

In some states, the average total number of labor hours is up by only about 1.2 hours over that four-year period. The biggest increase we saw in the average number of labor hours per job in any state was four hours.

In some cases, when the labor hours were broken down by type---body, refinish, frame and mechanical---we actually saw some small decreases in the averages in some state.

So at the end of the day, severity has gone up, but it’s not because of a significant increase in the labor hours per job. The increase is more based on increased scans and calibrations, and because of the use of more---and more expensive---parts per job.

As I looked at this data, I started to ask myself why. If you asked me this three or four years ago, I would have said maybe it’s insurance pressure. Insurance companies are really just hammering shops and trying to control severity.

While that may be true to an extent, I believe that a majority of shops---and I’m not trying to offend anybody here---use the insurance companies as an excuse for their own lack of knowledge and training. I really believe we have people in shops writing estimates or repair plans who have not been properly trained.

Part of the reason: We’re having to hire a lot of new people in our industry, and I think too often we’re not setting them up for success. We’re not giving them the time to train, we’re not finding the right training, and then we’re not giving them the time to write a proper damage analysis.

In some cases, we have people who are not educated themselves teaching someone else. It’s kind of like that game of telephone we all played in school, where one person tells another person something, and that person is supposed to tell another person the exact same thing, and so on, but by the time the message gets to the last person, it’s very different than the original.

Now my company offers estimating training, but there’s a lot of others sources of estimate training as well. You have Dave Dunn at Masters School. You have Kristen Felder and Larry Montanez with Collision Hub. You have Roger Cada from Accountable Estimating.

So I’m not saying you need to get training from us. I’m just saying you need to find somebody that can help get your team properly trained. I think it’s only going to become even more important as we start working on more and more electric vehicles.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson is a columnist for Autobody News and president of Collision Advice, a consulting company for the auto body/collision repair industry.

AkzoNobel Beta web graphic v2 600px

Shop & Product Showcase