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Understanding Estimates: A Basic Guide for Automotive Service Advisor Students

Published on May 26, 2016 by in Blog, CATI

Auto service advisors often explain estimates to customers

Preparing vehicle estimates is a big part of an auto service advisor’s job, and being able to break down the charges in terms that a customer can understand can be crucial to building trust and ensuring repeat business.

While the layout of estimates varies, they all contain the same basic information. An estimate will always list the parts being used and their cost, labour charges, and any other charges, together with a summary total estimate. Within each of these sections, there are a number of important points auto service advisors need to be able to explain to customers to help them make an informed decision.

Read on for a quick breakdown of what auto service advisor students should be looking to include in each section of an estimate.

Costing Parts in Estimates: What Automotive Service Advisors Should Know

Estimates need to include the retail price of each part being used, as well as a description of each individual part. Auto shops tend to group their parts inventory into four different categories:

• Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Parts, which come directly from the manufacturer
• Aftermarket Parts, which are made by third-party companies
• Remanufactured Parts, which are older OEM parts that have been reconditioned
• Salvaged Parts, which are working components saved from scrap vehicles

The right option for the customer will vary depending on their budget, type of vehicle, and the repairs required. A good automotive service advisor will carefully consider all of the available options and try to find the best possible solution for each individual job.

The parts used for a repair job should be carefully chosen

The parts used for a repair job should be carefully chosen

How Automotive Service Advisors Calculate Labour Charges

Auto repair labour costs are calculated on an hourly basis and tend to be billed in tenths. For example, a job which takes three and a half hours will appear as 3.5 on a customer’s estimate. Labour costs depend largely on your mechanic’s wages, so they may vary dramatically in different garages and areas, which often make them a point of contention for customers.

More experienced mechanics charge more for their services

More experienced mechanics charge more for their services

If a customer complains that your labour estimate seems high, it’s important to explain where the price of those charges comes from. Often, shops with high labour costs charge more because they have more experienced mechanics, meaning that paying a bit extra can be worthwhile in the long run.

Miscellaneous Charges & Flat Fees on Automotive Service Estimates Explained

One area of estimates where service advisor training students might need to provide some clarification for customers is the miscellaneous fees section. This section is for extra costs such as chemicals, disposal of hazardous waste materials, and items like cleaning supplies.

Many estimates also include items which are charged on a flat fee basis. This is usually done for services which aren’t broken down into parts and labour, such as a wheel alignment. It may also apply to particular services your shop has decided to charge a flat rate for as a special offer or promotion.

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