In every automotive repair negotiating class and seminar I’ve been to, the instructor has said something along the lines of “five people looking at the same dent will give five different repair times.” But, of course, this point isn’t surprising because those five people were all trained differently.
A recent informal poll in a popular collision estimator’s Facebook group supported this anecdote. The most common answer was, “I base repair time on damage size, body lines, and access.” The runner-up was, “I grab a number that feels right.” Other answers involved using a reference item like a sheet of paper to calculate damage.
And coming in very last in this poll was using an actual measurement of the damage.
Appraisers' estimates improve over time as they gain an understanding of repair areas, substrates, and other factors that impact the repair. They go from using a number that ‘feels right’ to using a number that ‘feels right based on their experience.’ The knowledge is there, but where is the tool to support it? Even with their experience, there can be significant variations in results. The largest factor in the effort required to repair the damage is size, and most estimators are still just estimating the damage size.
As a shop owner or manager, it is not realistic to review every estimate your estimators write. You’re left to guess if they are under-billing for body labor, over-billing for body labor, billing differently from one carrier to another, and the list of questions continues. We need a common language to sort this out, a uniform vocabulary that will eliminate the confusion and foster agreement in repair negotiations. Repair times have to stop being subjective.
Why is it this way?
Repair time calculation is the only part of the repair process that has not seen considerable change over the past several years. We stopped using lead solder when quality plastic fillers became available. Instead of making our best guess, we use specific, manufacturer-provided instructions for welded panel replacement. These operations changed because better processes became available. The technology improved, and so did the process and the final product. What about determining and documenting repair time?
What if you had a damage pricing profile that defined how you charge for panel damage? What if you could base your estimates on damage area, body lines, and substrate and stop the guesswork? Suppose there was a way to present that information in a professional report and integrate that data with any estimating software. How would that change your business and your approach to repair negotiations? The Dents.co mobile app is the technology change that enables the industry to improve the process and the final product.
How are measurements better?
Digital measurements remove all the subjectivity of repair. Damage is no longer ‘baseball sized’ or ‘hand sized’ but detailed in height and width measurement. Now that you have accurately measured damage, you can apply an accurate repair time. Measuring damage is better because it is repeatable. It is no longer subjective. It sets your standard of repair.
The Dents.co app makes measuring body damage possible, and it is as easy as taking a picture of the damage. It takes the digital measurement and presents this information in a clear, concise report. The documentation photos are digitally marked, so there is no question about where the damage is. This information is then easily exported in a digital report that can quickly and easily be attached to your estimating system to document your repair. As a result, repair time is no longer subjective.
How do I get started?
Getting started is easy. You can set up your account at https://dents.co/signup, and your first ten days are free. Once you have signed up, you will receive a link to walk you through setting up your account. Then, simply download the app from the app store, and you are ready to start.
Once in the app, you simply scan the vehicle VIN, select the damaged panel, and measure the damage. The app will request you input your repair hours, document the panel substrate, and indicate whether body lines are damaged. The result is a clean, professional report that documents the repair in your format of choice. Our world-class customer support team has years of hands-on industry experience and can quickly have you up and running. The Dents.co app makes your expertise the objective voice in damage repair.
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