Proper Pay – Collision Repair Magazine

IT’S WORTH AN ARGUMENT TO GET WHAT YOU’RE DUE.

I wasn’t entirely shocked when I read the results of Tom Bissonnette’s estimating survey–a lot of facilities leave things off their estimates. It’s sloppy, but it’s an easy enough mistake to make. I hope that no one’s doing it intentionally to lower the bill—we have enough problems in this industry.

The last thing we need is to get into a situation where no one can afford to pay their techs what they’re worth because we have to compete with some guy down the road who’s only billing for half of his labour.

But now that this issue is front and centre, pay attention. Bill accurately, or you’ll screw it up for yourself and make it harder for the rest of us in the process.

Make sure you and your estimators are on top of what your insurance companies will and will not accept.

There’s a lot you can miss, and it’s changing all the time.

The difference between a well-informed estimator and one who’s fallen behind is vast. It’s like having a good accountant: they know all the available write-offs and where they apply.

But don’t expect the insurance companies to go out of their ways to point out that you’ve under billed any more than you expect the government to tell you that you could get a bigger refund—you need to ask.

If you already bill accurately, take a note from Tom and do us all a favour: share.

Tell that guy down the road who’s billing for 20 minutes out of every hour he puts in—he could be making more money. You could keep it to yourself, sure, but I honestly don’t think it would help your situation.

I make money when an insurer pays me, not when they pay someone else less.

We spend so much time worrying about compensation and how to pay for things. Here’s one way to help.

It’s a matter of being up front and not cowering at the thought of turning in an accurate estimate. It’s not high—it’s fair. And they know that. It accounts for the full labour we put into these jobs, and it’s what we should be paid.

A lot of these items are already on the books–the various insurers have said they’re willing to pay them.

All you need to do is read up, be diligent, and assert yourself.

If they give you trouble, you can show them the agreements, the recommended procedures and the associated costs.

And show them Tom’s column. Maybe they’ll get the idea that this is serious business.

It’s our livelihoods and the pay cheques of all the people at our facilities.

If we’re under billing here or there, we risk insurers getting used to unrealistic rates, and then everybody suffers.

What I’m saying is it’s worth an argument. People won’t always be fair to you—that’s life. But they’ll never be fair to you if you don’t ask.

Stand up, make your point, and demand the money you’re due. Tell them Sam sent you.

Sam Piercey is the co-owner of Budds’ Collision Services in Oakville, ON. Sam is a long-time Coyote member and sits on many boards and committees. He can be reached at sam@buddscollision.com .