Some customers don’t require an estimate. You have a great relationship with them, and they trust you to do what’s necessary to keep their units up and running. You have no trouble getting them to pay invoices. You maintain the trust level by acting with complete integrity.
Unfortunately, some customers do require estimates. Maybe it’s because of a low trust level, or it could be a matter of corporate policy your customer has no control over. If it’s a trust issue, over time you can build trust with your customers. In the mean time you’ll need to deal with estimates.
Because preparing an estimate can be extremely time consuming, unless you do it right the authorization process will drag down your efficiency and shop profitability. (We designed Fullbay to build estimates organically, following your normal workflow. See how we cut the estimate build time down from hours to minutes.)
The Three Levels of Authorization
There are three levels of authorization:
Level 1: Your relationship with the customer is good enough that they trust you’ll only do what is needed. So when you find something that needs repairing, you just take care of it and send them the invoice. No estimates required.
Level 2: The customer is comfortable with you doing work up to a certain dollar amount without getting their permission. You prepare an estimate to make sure the work is staying under the threshold.
Level 3: For certain reasons (corporate policy, low trust level, cash-strapped customer) the customer requires you to get their permission before doing any work on their equipment. They require estimates on every job.
If you are at level 1, you don’t really need to prepare estimates; whatever you find, you take care of. This speeds the work up tremendously. A high trust level equals faster repairs. Faster repairs equal a more profitable shop.
At levels 2 and 3, you’re going to need to prepare an estimate. You will need to price out the job in terms of labor hours and parts. This can take several hours to do without the right tools (with Fullbay it can be done in under a minute), but if the customer requires it, you have to do it if you want the work. The longer preparing an estimate takes, the slower the job goes.
Once your estimate is complete, you need to communicate it to the customer. This is where the right tool for the job can also make things go faster. The longer approving an estimate takes, the slower the job goes.
So how do you move a customer from Level 3 to Level 1? If a customer is hamstrung by corporate policy, it may not be possible. Or they may be cash strapped and watching every penny. But if it’s simply a trust issue, there are ways to build up your credibility with the customer over time and gain their trust. See our guide to building trust with your customers.
Regardless of your shop size, as you build and maintain high trust with your customers, you can move many of them to levels 1 and 2. High trust speeds up the work and makes your shop more efficient and profitable.