Back nearly 50 years ago when Mike Rose opened the doors at his first shop, no one knew about things like photo estimating, let alone the Internet. The collision repair industry has changed in many ways since Mike started his business, and technology is a huge part of that.
In our ever-changing world, more and more jobs are becoming automated, and in theory, they are making our lives easier as a result. As technology improves our lives, we expect more. You can pay bills from your smartphone and do most of your banking from a small device. You can order literally anything online and monitor its delivery every step of the way. You can even lock your home’s doors and turn your lights on and off from hundreds of miles away.
When photo estimating entered the picture 5-6 years ago, it didn’t receive 5-star reviews. But now, it’s being offered by many body shops in the U.S., including Mike’s Auto Body.
Photo estimating works, because customers don’t need to spend extra time at a body shop or multiple shops and they get a quick settlement. Quickly settling the claim benefits the insurance company, the shop, and the customer. There is no doubt that photo estimates create efficiency for consumers, who can receive damage estimates on their own time, and the insurance claims process can be started far more quickly.
Like anything else, there are pros and cons when it comes to new technology, and photo estimating is a prime example of that. If you’ve been in an accident that is more than a fender bender, photo estimating may not work for you. Heavier hits cause damage that cannot be seen with the naked eye and that’s why bringing your vehicle is always preferred.
To get a photo estimate of your vehicle from Mike’s Auto Body, simply access our photo estimating portal at: https://mikesautobody.com/collision-repair/online-estimates/. It is listed under our Need Repairs tab on our Home Page.
Follow the easy steps. When it’s time to take the photos, make sure to get a clear shot of the damage in question. Don’t focus too closely on the damaged area (like a fender), but take a wider shot so that we can see the damage and all of the other parts of the vehicle attached or adjacent to it.
Once you’ve submitted the data and photographs (most people say it takes 5-15 minutes max) your preliminary online estimate request will be reviewed by one of our estimators. You will then receive an estimate of the approximate cost to repair the damage visible in photographs.
With some vehicles, there may be unforeseeable, unnoticed, or hidden damage which does not come to light until a vehicle is seen in person. Occasionally, there will be hidden damage that is not discovered until other damaged parts are removed.
For these reasons, any estimate or quote is a preliminary estimate only, and not a contract to repair your vehicle for the estimated price. It’s a good starting point that makes the entire process easier for Mike’s because it creates a file that we can refer to during every aspect of the estimate.
Please note that this service is provided only as a helpful guide in the repair of your vehicle, and is not an offer to repair the vehicle for the estimated cost.
Mark Linder is an auditor for Mike’s, so he analyzes photo estimates provided by customers and the company’s estimators every day. Linder has been in the industry for several decades, so he has seen this technology get better and more accessible, he said.
“It can really be a beneficial tool for everyone involved—the customer, the repair facility, and the insurance company,” Linder said. “Photo estimates have become more and more accurate, and that’s why it’s becoming more prevalent in the industry overall. The purpose of photo estimating is to save time and enable customers to get an estimate without leaving their homes.”
For people who want to bring their cars directly to one of our 17 shops, Linder and his team have made the estimating drive-up process easy and fast, he said. “In most cases, you don’t ever have to get out of your vehicle and the process normally takes 10-15 minutes. If you can do an online photo estimate first, it makes everything easier overall and help us to get an accurate estimate.”
Linder offers a few tips on how to submit a photo estimate that will check all the boxes and ensure a good result. “Please look at your photos before sending them to us; make sure that there is enough light and do a combination of closeups and wide shots. The more information we can have prior to fixing your car will make your repair a five-star experience.”