Your lead estimator is taking a week vacation, so estimating, file handling, supplements, billing or whatever other tasks he performs are handed off to multiple people. In addition, a shifting of roles probably takes place throughout many of your shop’s departments.
Believe it or not, I actually know some owners who make sure that when their estimator returns from vacation, he comes back to a perfectly clean desk instead a pile of work 3 feet high. Since the vacation was known well in advance and they learned from previous year’s vacations, they’ve developed a contingency plan involving multiple people.
In this scenario, for example, walk-in estimates for the week are handled by the owner as scheduled estimating appointments for a specific three-hour period each day. The shop porter or detailer is recruited to make parts orders for new jobs, and the receptionist converts insurance adjuster estimates into your management system. She’s also handling initial data entry for supplements.
To reduce the number of incoming calls, your estimator called all his customers the week before he left on vacation and gave them status updates on vehicle repairs. At the same time, he carefully documented each call on the file jacket. He also made sure all his supplements were identified and had been called in to the insurance company for authorization and approval, and he carefully documented the file for each call. In addition, he made sure the adjuster’s supplement packages were constructed and compiled for easy reference by the owner and front office personnel.
To cover the detailer’s or porter’s duties, the owner recruited the lead tech’s high-school-age daughter to work part time, four hours a day. To make the best use of his part timer, the owner meticulously laid out what work was to be performed, how it was to be done and what it was to look like when it was performed correctly. The owner also made sure the part timer had all the tools, materials and instructions easily accessible to eliminate wandering around to ask questions. The owner wanted to make sure the young lady worked and didn’t have any excuses for goofing off or being unproductive.
As this example illustrates, plans were made and everyone stayed focused on executing a plan. Everyone had a chance to do something a little different, but more importantly, they were all focused on achieving a common objective for the good of the customer by working together as part of a team.
Writer Jake Snyder is the principle of CR Management Systems, a consulting, training and business-development company. He’s been in the industry for more than 15 years, has managed a collision repair facility, held various claims positions with Allstate Insurance Company, and performed consulting and product development for Body Shop Video’s, Business Development Group. Snyder can be contacted at (732) 886-5340 or at [email protected].