In this fast-paced world we want everything FAST, we want everything NOW. And we want it FREE!
This includes repair estimates.
Potential clients from all over Los Angeles reach out to our shop requesting estimates every single day by phone, text, email, and even on social media. But the truth is, not everything works well that way. Of course you can find plenty of auto body shops that will give you an estimate without seeing your car in person, we used to do that too. But the reality is, the old fashion way of getting estimates is better, let me explain…
What a Medical Diagnosis and a Repair Estimate Have in Common
For example, doctors. Do you call them, text, or email to get a diagnosis? No, right? Of course we are not comparing ourselves to doctors; but, in the same way that a doctor needs to see you in person to look “under the hood” so to speak, we need to do the same, but literally. On the other hand, if you have something simple like the common cold, you don’t need to see your doctor, often times the clinic staff or a pharmacist can tell you what you have and what to take.
Again, sometimes at the shop, people need to replace something straightforward like a headlight and for something like that, you don’t need to come all the way to the shop. But for pretty much everything else… you should. Two reasons. 1) It’s good for your wallet, and 2) good for your car.
A Rough Estimate Can Cost You An Arm And A Leg
Just like it’s a good idea to see the doctor in person, get weighed, have your blood pressure taken, vitals, tests, and a private chat with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. An incorrect diagnosis can mean the difference from a bit of discomfort to finding out you have a malignant tumor when it’s too late. Auto collision repair estimates are not brain surgery but they can mean the difference between a few hundred bucks to a couple of thousands dollars. So as you can see, it is a good idea to let us see your car in person, check the body and paint to get an honest repair estimate. This will save you time and money in the long run.
THE PROS AND CONS OF ROUGH ESTIMATES OVER THE PHONE, TEXT, OR EMAIL
- Fast. Estimates can be gathered within hours.
- Convenient. Can get several estimates in a short period of time.
- Save Time. Don’t have to drive around to different shops.
- Inaccurate Estimate. Damage cannot be assessed completely or thoroughly.
- High Estimate. Possible missed opportunity.
- Low Estimate. Possible “bait and switch” scheme.
PHONE, TEXT, AND EMAIL ROUGH ESTIMATES ARE OFTEN A BAD IDEA
What the cons boil down to, is well- money. Your hard earned money. And it’s our wallets that we want to take care of these days. Of course when a damage is not assessed properly you can’t get an accurate estimate, it will either be too high or too low. Your vehicle will not be viewed in various angles and proper lighting. Furthermore it won’t be thoroughly evaluated because some damages need to be viewed under the car’s panels or need to be taken apart. A vehicle will almost always have hidden damage that a regular person is not aware of.
How Can an Initial High Rough Estimate Become a Missed Opportunity?
Well, of course, this does not apply to all situations, but this has happened at our shop. Unfortunately we used to be one of those shops that would accept pictures as a tool to assess a damage and give estimates. Since we didn’t get to see the entire vehicle in person, from the pictures it was never clear how deep a scratch would be, and in most cases the damage looked even worse in photos than in real life. In this case, yes, you guessed it, our estimates would be high. Those few times that the potential client agreed to come by the shop so we could take the job, after inspecting the vehicle’s damage in person we would realize that the damage was actually not as bad as in the pictures or other less expensive methods could be used to repair the problem. And ultimately we would revise our initial rough estimate and to the pleasant surprise of our client, it was going to be less than initially thought.
Of course, you could think of all the times we estimated high (because we didn’t see the car in person) and the potential clients decided not to come to our body shop. They could have come to the shop to have us see the vehicle in person and maybe find out the repair could have been less. That was a missed opportunity for them, they would never know unless they had come to the shop. And since they didn’t, it was a missed opportunity. It goes without saying, not all collision shops are good and honest. Many don’t revise their estimates if you already agreed to the high estimate. And they don’t plan on telling you, because that means more money in their pockets.
How Can a Low Estimate be Perceived or be an Actual Bait and Switch Scheme?
Again, with the issue of not taking your car in person, a shop might unintentionally under estimate because they are only taking in consideration what they see from the pictures you sent. They are not taking into account all the other factors we have already spoken about above. So what happens after you take your car to their shop? This is where they will (or should) properly assess your car’s damage, as it should be. Often times, they will realize that they estimated way too low. Now, they will have to tell you the bad news. And who wants to hear that they will need to spend more money? Nobody. You and your wallet won’t be happy. You might come to the conclusion that any other estimates you got which you thought were higher, were actually a bit more accurate.
If It Is Too Good To Be True, IT IS!
We are not saying that more is better, not at all, but the fact is not all shops are good and honest. You will run into those who don’t care how they get work just as long as they do. We call those quantity shops, not quality shops. Anyways, those shops know that you probably shopped around, got several estimates and are betting that you will pick them because their estimate will be the lowest. That is the “bait”, the low estimate is an attractive quote, that will lure you to their shop. Once you enter their shop, they might attempt to sell you a more expensive service, product, or simply turn around and say that “the initial rough estimate was not a complete or accurate estimate, the repairs will actually cost more…” this is called the “switch”.
“BUT IT’S ONLY A TINY SCRATCH”
You might say, “But wait, all I have is a ‘simple’ tiny scratch on my car. Nothing big. Can’t you just give me an estimate by looking at a couple of good close up pictures?” Well the words “simple”, “tiny”, “scratch”, and “nothing big” are open to interpretation. These words mean something completely different to an auto body and paint technician. Only they can judge what they consider simple, a scratch from a dent and what they call a big or small damage. Additionally, a picture cannot capture every angle, behind the panels, and indentations that don’t show well or not at all, in some lights.
Would you let someone tell you that what they needed you to do was “simple”, “small”, and “not a big deal” task. You would immediately think, “I will be the judge of that”. Of course! That is why we recommend that all jobs, big or small, come in for us to assess. The professionals. Sometimes what you consider a big job, for a technician is not a big deal. And sometimes something you consider a small thing after inspecting it carefully, a technician will tell you otherwise. In many respects potential clients and technicians can’t jump to conclusions.
THE PROS AND CONS OF IN-PERSON ESTIMATES
- Proper Assessment of Damage. Inspections are done as thorough as possible.
- More Accurate Estimates. Might be off by a little but not a significant amount if done properly.
- Takes Time. You have to drive and spend time at different shop to get estimates.
- Won’t Know How Long. Estimates can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour or so for major collision repair.
IN-PERSON ESTIMATES SAVE YOU MONEY
As you might have noticed on the pros and cons list for in-person estimates, the pros and cons here are switched from those done over the phone, text, or email. The estimates are more accurate and are more thorough. Of course it will mean more time and dedication from your part. But on the flip side, you get to see our shop in person and meet the crew who will work on your vehicle. We will take the time to explain the repair process, your options, price points, and answer all your questions. Doing this saves you time, money, and unpleasant surprises later on.
Given the choice between a low-priced over-the-phone, vague estimate and a higher-priced, in person, detailed estimate on how your vehicle is going to be returned to its preaccident condition, which do you prefer?
DON’T BE SHY, WE DON’T BITE.
With all that being said, we invite you to come to our professional auto body shop for a free estimate. It’s painless, we promise, shouldn’t take more than it takes to wait in line for your Starbucks order. We can generate a complete estimate and then walk you through the repair. We will point out each item to be repaired or replaced and explain the equipment and work methods that will be used. All we ask is, if you can, to please give us a heads up before you arrive, maybe an hour before you get to the shop would be nice. Or if you want to schedule an appointment you can just give us a call or text at 818.793.7728. We hope to see you and your car soon!
“The team over at West coast is superb. They’re efficient, fast, and friendly. The work is always up to par. Ask for Jaider, he is courteous and accommodating. I had my wife’s car here for a minor fender bender and Jaider made sure the car looked as good as new. He even came in early to return the car to me so I didn’t get charged another day on the rental. It’s their customer service and the quality of work that makes the West coast team the best in SFV. You can’t go wrong getting body work or paint done here, no matter the make or model. They do classics as well… In all, They’re a team you can trust to do a thorough and quality job.”
Jorell, Sherman Oaks, CA, 12/2/2015