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Building an Estimator

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In a body shop, the estimator is one of the most critical roles in the business. If an estimate isn’t written correctly, it wastes time, money and resources. An accurate estimate is not only important for a business, but it’s important for the safety of the customer. Knowing what’s at stake when writing a complete estimate and understanding the consequences of an incomplete repair are essential for an estimator.

An effective estimator can help sell more jobs and speed up production in the shop. However, many body shops have a difficult time finding a quality candidate. With a nationwide shortage of people entering trade industries, many shops try and turn existing employees into estimators. The problem? Many employees lack either the necessary technical or people skills to be effective as an estimator and shop owners lack the resources to train them.

“Turning people into estimators isn’t easy,” Douglas Dell, Vice President and Director at Vale, says. “A technician has all of the technical skills, but may not know how to interact with customers, while a customer service representative is just the opposite. At Vale, we integrate those skill sets.”


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That’s why sending prospective estimators to training is critical to ensuring their success. While several training options exist in the industry, Vale Training Solutions leverages 75 years of experience to deliver expert estimating training courses that help improve the estimates that are written and increase shop revenue. Since its inception, Vale has prided itself on not cutting corners and preparing people for entry and success into the collision repair industry.


The Vale Advantage

Rather than guessing at how to best train an existing employee, or hiring a new employee to shadow an estimator, shop owners can enroll students in Vale’s Auto Estimatics Training course. The course, which is two weeks long, provides both classroom and hands-on learning for students. Vale teaches a unique method to identify repair times for direct damage, indirect damage, and frame or unibody time. The hands-on approach to component repair methods include surface area, body lines (contours), as well as accurate structural times.

The course design allows for plenty of interaction with other students within the industry. Students will have the opportunity to interact with students in the fleet or rental companies, insurance companies, body shops, and estimating software companies—these interactions often lead to lifetime industry contacts.

During the course, the student will practice writing multiple estimates on real vehicles. These are reviewed and instructors give feedback to improve accuracy.


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Through its training legacy, Vale has identified a series of best practices that incorporate the latest technology and product guidelines into all its training programs. Vale also provides instruction in all three software platforms (Audatex, CCC and Mitchell) to ensure students are well prepared for estimations in any type of body shop.

“We expose students to real tools and real materials,” Dell says. “The experiential learning is something that cannot be achieved simply by shadowing someone. Vale drives home the importance of teamwork within a shop to ensure that all departments work together to produce a great finished product, a happy customer and a supportive team culture.” “Vale Estimate Training helped me understand the opportunity to gain more profit per estimate, adding every necessary hour to fill a job,” says Josh Wilson, manager of Fortune Collision Centre in Lexington, Ky. “In doing so, I trickled down the process to our body shop team. Vale Training helped myself and the team see what we left on the table.”


Growing Talent

The decision to send an employee to a training course isn’t easy. Not only does it cost money, but it takes a member of your team away from producing work for the duration of the course. Vale ensures its training is worth it for both your business and the employee attending. “By showing employees they can start out somewhere and keep moving up the ranks, it reinforces a commitment to employee growth and success,” Dell says. “People will want to work for this type of company.”



To learn more visit Vale’s website.

Connect with Vale Training Solutions on social media:

Twitter   |   LinkedIn   |   LinkedIn group for Vale alumni   |   Facebook


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