We see this on many insurance company estimates: “partial refinish.” Most body shops just let it go and take the loss. Have you, as the owner of the shop, taken the time to consider how much money you’re letting slip out the door by letting this practice continue?
Let’s break it down. You’re working on a 2005 Toyota Highlander tailgate and have a four-hour dent. The estimating program gives you 3.7 hours to refinish, which breaks down to $118.40 in paint materials and $177.60 in labor for a total of $296. That’s not too bad, considering that all insurance companies refuse to pay for feather, prime and block. But with this formula, a shop only breaks even for this refinish job. There is simply no room to reduce refinish time.
Let’s see what happens if you let the insurance company bully you into a partial refinish. They reduce the refinish time to 2.3 hours. That’s $73.60 for paint material and $110.40 for labor for a total of $184.40. You just lost $111.10. Remember, you still have to feather, prime and block, which will result in another $80 loss, bringing the total loss to $191.10. The good news is that when you say, “We do not accept partial refinish,” 90 percent of insurance companies will give you full refinish.
Making Your Case
Some will ask, “How do I argue this with the insurance company?” Actually, it’s simple. Ask the adjuster, “What’s the actual difference in what we’ll be doing for a partial refinish and what we’ll be doing for a full refinish?” And then, before they can answer, answer the question yourself.
Explain how partial refinish actually costs more. We still have to clean and sand the entire panel, except with partial refinish, we have to sand much more slowly and carefully. And since that is the case, we now have to have a professional painter prep the panel, not a low-paid tech. This will cost the shop more. Also, we now must use a blending agent, which adds even more cost. Then, tell the adjuster, “We may have used $5 less in paint, but we’ve used more in blending agent and prep time. Now pay me to use my highly paid painter to prep and use blending agent, and also pay me to feather, prime and block sand, and I’ll be glad to accept partial refinish.”
Mike Watson co-owns Jim’s Body Shop LLC with his brother, James, in LaPlace, La. He can be reached at (985) 652-5804 or [email protected].