Reduce Supplements and Gain Repair Order Accuracy

Order Reprints
 Tips to Reduce Supplement Ratios
If you commit to repair order accuracy, the shop can cut down on a high supplement rate.

The percent of appraisals with at least one supplement has grown to 52 percent, says Susanna Gotsch, director, industry analyst for CCC. This percentage has hovered between 46 and 47 percent from 2009 to 2014, then started to rise, moving to 48 percent in 2015 and, eventually, 51 percent in 2017.

In terms of supplement share of the overall repair cost, the number has grown from 10 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2017. The average supplement amount per appraisal across all appraisals (even those without supplements) is roughly $500, she says.

The vehicle’s estimate is done and the damage has been visually and physically assessed. The staff pushes the car through the process believing the damage has been found.

Then, the process is halted when additional repairs to complete the initial repair are found.

According to Crash Repair Info, “it is often impossible to identify all damage to a vehicle until it’s disassembled.”

Ted Williams, manager of business consulting services for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes,  says that high supplement rates can be lowered and when it comes to reducing supplement ratios for a collision repair center, the most important step to conquer first is commitment. Before attempting to reduce supplements, the department must begin with a strong discipline needed to schedule work.

In a dealership environment, specifically, Williams says repair order accuracy in the beginning of the process reduces return fees, inventory fees and labor associated with ordering unneeded or wrong parts.

Williams visits body shops every week to help implement new processes. Williams has over 25 years of experience with Sherwin-Williams. Through his weekly visits, he has been able to see when a technician finds another part needed in the repair process and what approaches result in preventing a delay or causing a delay.

Williams says you can no longer afford to have the issue of a high supplement ratio because it affects the customer service of the business. Body shop managers may be making a number of different mistakes causing supplements, including scheduling more work than a shop can accurately disassemble, making assumptions of the deepest damage on the vehicle, and ending the disassembly too early, and not organizing damaged parts for quick verification.

Williams shares his top four tips managers can follow to lower supplement rates.

As told to Melissa Steinken


Tip No. 1: Meet with the team and discuss the benefits of changing the repair process.

Start the process by discussing with the team how everyone benefits when repair order accuracy is improved. It’s essential to create buy-in and ownership of improving repair order accuracy.

You will find that many times the staff has been waiting for leadership to guide them in this direction. One incentive for the team to work on this is that when supplements are reduced, touch time will increase. Touch time will mean more hours with less stress on the team.

Through more accurate repair orders, other benefits could be more personal time for each person to take and more money.


Tip No. 2: Make sure technicians are able to make the most of their time.

I often ask fixed operations directors a question: “If you have a service technician that was only physically touching a vehicle for three to four hours per day in an eight-hour workday, would you accept that?”

The answer is always “no.” I follow up by saying, “Then why do you accept similar results in the collision repair shop?”

Repair order accuracy is key. A technician can only touch a vehicle that has the parts it needs and the authorization to proceed. The earlier this happens in the repair process, the better the odds are that the touch time increases.


Tip No. 3: Focus on a complete assessment of damage.

If a technician or manager does not fully know the extent of the damage, he or she cannot accurately order parts and allocate labor. Disassemble the vehicle to the clips and take assumptions on the deepest damage apart to determine the extent of the damage.

Repair order accuracy begins when work is properly scheduled, including disassembly and reassembly. The secret to doing this step correctly is to do it meticulously.


Tip No. 4: Verify the parts you receive are accurate.

The technician needs to unbox it, check for damage and make sure the part is the one that is needed for the vehicle. The collision repair staff will need to lead the parts staff in unboxing the part and checking to make sure it matches the damaged parts.

Technicians also should focus on not neglecting the organization of parts. Organizing parts can lead to more accuracy in verification.


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