The COVID-19 crisis has hit the auto body repair business, as it has most businesses across the country. It’s been reported that traffic in California is off as much as 70%. That mixed with social distancing is keeping customers away. There is one good outcome though. We rolled out our online photo estimate program and it couldn’t be easier. I believe it will change the way that we interact with customers in the future. For social distancing, it’s the perfect tool.

How Easy is Photo Estimating?

To use the online photo estimating tool, you simply go to our website and choose the location you want to go to. On the location page you will find the online photo estimate link. It’s super simple from there. You’ll enter your name, scan your vin#, take the photos it directs you to, and you’re done. It automatically goes up to the shop and in a few business hours the estimate is at your fingertips.

Photo Estimating Accuracy

A lot of people say that photo estimating isn’t accurate enough. I would agree and disagree. On smaller superficial repair jobs, the online photo estimate can capture most, if not all, the damage. On the smaller job the damage tends to have all of the damage visible. If there is deeper damage, it isn’t easy to detect when the car is at the shop either. We have always needed to disassemble the car completely to get a complete estimate. It does give us a place to get started and gets your insurance claim going and parts coming.

Photo Estimating For Large Jobs

The online photo estimate isn’t really for the larger repair jobs. I would argue though that a large vehicle repair was never a good candidate for any level of accuracy to be written in person without a complete disassembly. I’m sure we can get a lot closer to a complete estimate with an in person estimate. However, for true accuracy on large jobs, we have to remove the parts to see where and what the extent of the damage is. My suggestion is, if you have a large repair with suspected internal damage, qualify the shop you want to use and get the car in to remove the parts and find all the damage. If you are insured, an estimate that doesn’t include all the damage is a waste of your time.

If you have a larger repair, and your insurance company wants to start with an estimate and photos, the online photo estimating tool makes perfect sense. It expedites a process that has to be redone anyway, once we have the car.

Online Photo Estimating For Social Distancing

With the need for social distancing, the online photo estimate makes it easier by eliminating one entire contact point. If you need an estimate, reach out to any Northern California Collision Pros location in Auburn, Chico, Paradise, Red Bluff, Woodland and Loomis.

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