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Auto Body Estimating Solutions: Excel and OpenOffice.org

Writing or Understanding a Body Shop Estimating Software

Race Club Body Shop Newsletter

Writing or Understanding a Body Shop Estimating Software

cd-logo-auto-body-excel.jpgEstimating or understanding an estimate written by a body shop or Insurance Company using collision estimating software like:  

CCC One, Pathways, Mitchell, Web-est or others can be confusing, understanding what the line items mean can be helpful.  

Body shops who write estimates have 3 people to communicate with as to why they have to charge the estimated amount:  The Customer, the Insurance Company and the Tech in the shop doing the repair.

Small shops can use hand written, they look at your car, think about how many hours it will actually take to do the work, multiply the hours to their labor rate (more about setting labor rates), estimate materials or parts and walla! an estimated price.

Now, when was the last time you planned anything in your head and it worked just as you planned?  Consider that when viewing an estimate, Insurance Companies have built in variables to the claims process, its why they have supplements.

Labor times are typically categorized Paint, Body, Frame and sometimes Metal, each have varying skill sets and market value.  Items not outlined in a database driven estimate typically are shown with an (*) as they are considered judgment items and subject to the opinion of the person looking at the damage.  Most operations are shown in the software if the shop uses it.

Smaller shops typically don't use expensive software to write an estimate, some will even give a verbal guess and see if you bite.  As a former shop owner yourself, we developed a Microsoft(TM) Excel(TM) Spreadsheet work book to automate estimating, tracking parts and other imortant time saving features.  We used it for years and it is extremely helpful and cost effective.

Collision estimating software with point and click features share a data base issued from Mitchel(TM) and other sources.  At the core of this software is a database recorded from an actual car that was disassemble to record labor hours for various procedures.  The times are recorded in a searchable database.  When a shop clicks R/R (remove and replace) hood, the software looks up the actual labor time it would take to remove and replace the hood in question, it also includes hidden procedures like:  under hood insulation, latch hardware etc.  Things most people wouldn't even consider.

To help you understand your estimate, it helps to understand the common abbreviations found on an computerized written estimates:

  • R/R - Remove and Replace
  • R/I - Remove and Reinstall an item
  • R - Repair or sometimes Rpr
  • LR - Left Rear
  • LF - Left Front
  • RR - Right Rear
  • Quarter - Rear quarter panel, sometimes refered to by customers as rear fender.  Quater panel is refered to because it represent the forth of the rear of the car.
  • * - This symbol is used to signify its a judgement item and not in the database.
  • AM - After Market parts.  Parts that look like they are original but not made by the cars manufacturer.
  • OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer.  Made by the same company who made the car.
  • Bmpr - Bumper
  • Fndr - Fender

A sample line item would read like this:  R/R, LF, Fndr.  The line item would be interpreted like this - Remove and replace, Left front fender and would include a part cost, paint etc.

The estimating process can be confusing for the customer and time consuming for the shop and at it's core an educated guess.

We make the Excel Estimating system available on this website and recommend it to save your shop time and help manage the repair.