Best Practices for Vehicle Collision Repair Estimating and Claim Work


We’re pleased to publish this guest blog post from our software partner, Audatex. It was written by Keith Bohling, Senior Project Manager, Training & Web Services for Audatex.

At Audatex, we work with collision repair shops and insurance companies on an ongoing basis to improve the electronic estimating process. Audatex manages millions of automotive claims each year and resolves billions in settlements by providing world-class solutions that help its customers automate their processes.

As a leader in the automotive claims processing industry, Audatex has amassed a considerable amount of knowledge that it often shares with its customers in an effort to improve the quality of their solution. I’d like to present some best practices Audatex recommends when deploying a technology solution – both hardware and software – to use for estimating and claim work.

As your shop looks to implement mobile solutions, think of them as different puzzle pieces that need to come together to complete a picture. Once you’ve identified the needed software platforms and begin to evaluate hardware devices, we recommend you assess a series of features. One of the first elements to consider is system requirements. Audatex, like other software providers, offers a document that outlines all the hardware requirements needed to run the application. For example, many organizations offer online training that will require devices with on-board audio support; however, not all devices come with speakers.

Also, consider your standard operating procedure. If a customer comes in for an estimate, what is your procedure; are your estimators tied to a desktop system? If you don’t have the vehicle in front of you, it can impact the accuracy of your estimate. We highly recommend that estimators use a mobile solution that will allow them to interact with customers while generating the estimate and order parts from the side of the vehicle. If this isn’t currently a best practice, we urge your shop to consider how you can reduce waste by decreasing the time spent going from the vehicle to the back office and entering hand written notes into your estimating system.

Another benefit of a mobile solution is accuracy. Sometimes vehicle parts may be left at the scene of the accident, making it unclear which parts are missing. By taking the estimating system off your desk, you can compare graphics in the estimating platform to the vehicle in front you. 3D graphics significantly improve this process and allow estimators to zoom and rotate images while at the vehicle to improve accuracy and reduce supplements.

For those shops that are using desktop systems now and are considering moving to a mobile solution, think about all the technology involved in your network. A mobile solution allows you to integrate technologies that existed separately in a desktop solution – such as cameras and barcode scanners. Some mobile devices have integrated cameras that allow pictures to be automatically uploaded and transferred to the software program. This can significantly streamline the estimating process and reduce the number of devices that your shop has to manage.

Some mobile devices that run a full Windows Operating System can be docked and used as a desktop solution. When a mobile solution isn’t needed, you can dock and use a full-size keyboard, mouse and monitor. This allows flexibility for devices to be used in the field and at a desk. Some mobile devices don’t offer this level of flexibility, which may result in the need for both a desktop computer and a mobile solution.

What are you using now to measure how your shop is performing? We know that insurance companies are tracking metrics such as parts utilization, cycle time and supplement ratios. Through our work with customers and insurance partners, we’ve seen the direct results of how these best practices described above can affect these key performance indicators (KPIs). A more accurate estimating process will help improve the overall process and the success of these KPIs through a decrease in repair time and the reduction of supplements. Shops are also aware that insurance companies are tracking customer satisfaction (CSI) for direct repair programs (DRPs).  Data shows that customer satisfaction through the claims process is tied directly to customer insurance renewals. Implementing a mobile solution will significantly improve your customer’s experience as repair times will decrease and communication will be improved – resulting in better CSI performance.

All of these practices play together to increase productivity and drive KPIs. A mobile technology solution that allows estimators to interact at the vehicle will increase efficiency and improve accuracy on a per job basis each day. We encourage you to think about what best practices you can apply to help your business be more successful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email at