Archive for the ‘estimates’ Category

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Twenty first century brought us the invention of a smart phone, social media and much increased expectations of superior customer service. The big round world called earth has gotten much smaller. For example I can communicate with my cousin in Germany over Skype as if he was next door.

More and more I get requests from our customers for repair estimates for their vehicles to be made just from photographs that are sent via email or text from their phones. A trip to the local body shop to get an estimate on minor repair to the vehicle takes time. Time is money. Why not get an idea of what it would cost from the photos? Isn’t that one of the reasons they invented a smart phone?

It seems like a great idea. So why do I discourage customers from doing that? Because unless you are a professional photographer and know a lot about shades and lighting and right angles, pictures might be misleading.  Bringing up that point I usually get a response:” I just need to get an idea of what it would cost. I want hold you to it.”

This puts me in a conundrum.  On one hand I would like to make you happy and accommodate your request and save your valuable time, on the other hand I am concerned that the idea you would get from photos could be far from reality and thus create a conflict.

Imagine getting an email from me that based on your photos the repair should cost you about $500.00. You are happy. It is less than you expected. You schedule a repair and drop off the car at the body shop. Next day you get a call or email stating that the part actually needed to be replaced not repaired and the cost of repairs is $1500.00 and not $500.00. Your first is – this guy is a crook!

Now through no fault of my own, instead of gaining a loyal customer because of a special service I was willing to provide, I lose a client, but more than that I get an unhappy motorist who most likely will bad mouth my establishment.

“But I explained to you how inaccurate virtual estimate could be based on a photo and you told me you will not hold me to it!” explanations become meaningless when a consumer feels that he has been wronged by a body shop. One negative comment is worth ten positive ones.

What is the solution? After careful consideration I decided to offer mobile estimates. If you are really strapped for time and are willing to pay a little for the service, we will be offering mobile estimates beginning in January, 2015. We will come to your home or office and prepare a professional estimate using a tablet technology. The estimate will be promptly emailed to you. Of course an estimate is still only an estimate, because you never know what you will find once the vehicle is taken apart, but this will ensure maximum possible accuracy. The fee charged will be refunded when you bring your vehicle for repairs.

I need your feedback. Would this be of benefit to you? Please let me know.