Aspart of the 50-year-old culture of the repair industry the people who write the reports that the technicians use to do their repairs are still called ‘Estimators’ The duties they perform include customer contact, parts ordering, insurance company liaison and scheduling of work. None of this has become easier with time. This worked well enough for many years, but the complexity of modern cars requires specific vehicle research before the repair procedures can be written.
This research is not as simple as clicking a few tabs and printing a few pages. With all the other work the Estimator is expected to do it is unrealistic to give them access to a huge amount of new information and expect them to understand it and know where to find the specific information they need.
At Tsawwassen Collision we recognized this as a reality over two years ago and created a new role of Pre-Estimate Vehicle Researcher.
This researcher is not distracted by having to order parts, verify prices or maintain contact with the customer, the technicians on the floor and the insurance company. He is able to work in a back office with minimal distractions to determine the relevant features of that vehicle, the structural materials used, and the specific repair instructions provided by the manufacturer. This information is (mostly) all out there but in a form that requires knowledge and experience to interpret. We have found that it can take up to two hours to properly research even a moderate hit on a late model car.
We have developed an in-house system to compile the relevant information in a way that is allows the estimator to write the proper repair report.
The How and What post and the 2016 Honda Civic post provide more background on why this separation of duties is needed to achieve a correct safe repair.