Mar 02, 2017

Estimating Heavy Duty Repairs: Drum up business for your shop

Estimating Heavy Duty Repairs: Drum up business for your shop

Sometimes we make the simplest things in life complicated for no good reason. Take the Academy Awards. The accountants who hand out envelopes make over $800K a year. Each. The envelopes are clearly labeled. What could go wrong?

In the same way, heavy duty shops often make estimates way too complicated. Estimating heavy duty repairs is a great way to drum up business for your shop. But they should be extremely easy to produce. The shop owner shouldn’t have to be involved every time.

Of course you need to be careful to mark your parts up and estimate your labor correctly. But if you can quickly spin up an estimate, then estimating heavy duty repairs can keep new business coming into your shop.

Estimating heavy duty repairs

Someone calls up your shop. They need a quote. No problem–you’re great at estimating heavy duty repairs. And if you can put a great tool like Fullbay in place, you can delegate this to one of your employees. It will handle parts markup and labor rates automatically.

So what role does estimating heavy duty repairs play in a diesel shop?

The Sales Cycle

In its most basic form, the sales cycle for a heavy duty shop boils down to three steps:

  1. Lead
  2. Opportunity
  3. Business won

A lead is some bit of information about a potential customer. Maybe it’s just a name and number from a phone call. Or maybe it’s someone you ran into at the parts store that needs some work done. When you have a potential customer, you need to value that and pursue it. We call it a lead.

An opportunity is a lead that has matured enough that you are proposing work. This usually involves an estimate, even if it’s a quick estimate.

Once the customer approves your estimate, you’ve won the business. The lead is now a customer. If you do well on the first job, this could turn into repeat business. This is especially true if you are able to track PMs.

Opportunity Types

Opportunities can come in different forms. For example:

  1. Preventive maintenance
  2. Pending repairs
  3. Annual inspections
  4. Estimates

Preventive maintenance can provide a steady stream of work for the shop. PMs are nice, predictable jobs. And when you find issues that need addressing, they can also feed heavier repair work to the shop. In fact, you can build your customer base to the point that you can’t take any more customers. This is because tracking PMs and taking care of the repairs you find provides enough work for all of your techs.

Pending repairs are things that you find when doing PMs, an inspection, or diagnosing a unit. If you can quickly spin up an estimate, you can give the customer the chance to approve pending repairs at the same time they approve the repair they originally came in for.

Annual inspections are usually required by the government, like a DOT Annual Inspection in the United States, or a CVIP in Canada. Like PMs, if you can track them for your customers, they provide a good stream of work, and can help generate other business as you find issues that need to be addressed.

Estimating heavy duty repairs is required in all of these areas. Whether you found an issue with the truck or trailer during a PM, diagnosis, or inspection, you’ll ultimately need to spin up the estimated cost to correct the issue.


If your software can spin up quick estimates, with parts markup and labor rates handled, you should be able to delegate this responsibility. And estimating heavy duty repairs can feed a steady stream of work into your shop.

Jacob Findlay