4 Best Practices For Preparing Estimates After Automotive Service Operations Training

It takes hours and hours of training and dedication to master the science and art of preparing estimates. Formal estimate training equips budding estimators with the skills and technical savvy necessary to emerge and remain at the very top of their profession.

Despite this, quite a few aspiring auto body estimators need to face down the jitters when presented with their first real-life scenario post-training. As a budding estimator, here are four best practices to remember for preparing estimates.

1. Complement Automotive Service Operations Training With Ongoing Industry Training

During your automated service operations training, you will learn all there is to know about becoming a relevant, successful estimator. That said, it’s crucial to pair this knowledge with a willingness to evolve constantly to keep pace with the ever-evolving industry landscape.

Keeping up with current trends in the industry will pay off when you need to decide on your pricing strategy, among other things. This should go without saying, but an estimator that knows their stuff will ideally know how specific systems operate. The bottom line is, do not be afraid to adapt.

Staying up-to-date with current industry trends will help you decide on a workable pricing strategy.

2. Develop a Standard Operating Procedure

If there’s one thing automotive career training emphasizes, it is the importance of developing a workable, reusable process and sticking to it. Crafting a consistent standard operating procedure (SOP) saves you and your clients precious time and offers enough scope to fine-tune your process after each use. One of the first things you should do as an estimator once you’ve completed your training is build a strategy for scanning the vehicle, assessing damage, and relaying your findings to your clients.

Remember, your SOP should be repeatable. It should also be effective; an ineffectual SOP is bad for your efficiency and bottom line.

3. Be Thorough

From conducting a pre-scan to carrying out a post-scan and everything in between, it’s important to be conscientious. Before carrying out any significant work on an automobile brought into your shop, check that all systems are working as they should with a pre-scan. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take photographs, if only to forestall arguments from the client at the end of the repair. Finally, don’t forget to carry out a post-scan to verify that no lingering issue slipped under the radar.

Taking photographs of damages can help prevent arguments from the client as to the extent of the repairs done.

4. Be Detailed and Honest

Although some customers are not too concerned with it, most appreciate it when you provide a detailed breakdown of their expenses. Provide a detailed breakdown of the process and the costs associated with each step. If parts need to be replaced, be honest and transparent with your pricing. Remember that customers typically compare estimates from different auto shops before settling on any one service. Overestimating your pricing will put you out of the running long before the race starts.

While preparing your estimate, it’s recommended that you have no financial benchmark in mind. If you’re writing an estimate to reach a financial target, you may inadvertently set yourself up to overreach. 

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