Photo Estimating in Collision Repair: Educating Customers Is Your Best Defense
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Photo Estimating in Collision Repair: Educating Customers Is Your Best Defense

By participating in insurers’ photo-based estimating programs, consumers are shortchanging themselves – and saving insurers lots of money.

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

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I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the scourge of photo estimating across the industry. Consumers are taking photos of their damaged vehicles with their smart devices, sending them to their insurers and getting checks in the mail. Obviously, we know that by doing this, they’re shortchanging themselves and saving insurers lots of money.

Like a lot of things in the collision industry, this comes down to educating the consumer. We don’t want to hear this; we’ve got enough on our plate without adding yet another responsibility. But no one is going to do it for us.

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I remember years ago when a body shop owner put up a bright yellow banner above his shop that said, “It’s the Law!” Customers would see it and come in and ask what it meant, and it gave him the opportunity to talk to them about illegal steering.

Why not produce a short video with your iPhone of you explaining why basing an estimate off a photo will not get them properly compensated and could also lead to an incomplete and unsafe repair? And put the video on your Facebook page? You are utilizing the wonderful free marketing tool that is social media, right?

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If you want to go old school, why not make up some brochures and put them on the counter, educating customers on why basing estimates off photos isn’t a good idea?

Educating the customer is a constant uphill battle, but one we must undertake and keep at for the sake of our business. As Men’s Warehouse founder Sy Syms was fond of saying in his commercials, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”

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