Cycle time is the number one metric the auto appraisal industry is judged on. Therefore, lowering your cycle time is a great way to improve your perceived value. It doesn’t matter whether you are a single appraiser or a nationwide firm, your cycle time is scrutinized and examined on a consistent basis.
Industry Standard Cycle Time
The insurance companies, independent appraisal firms, and independent appraisers all are held to a three-day cycle time average. The best appraisers and companies deliver under three days and are rewarded with more work and a reputation for being a top appraiser or firm.
We all know that situations arise in the life of the vehicle owner, appraiser, or the claim itself that can delay the inspection of a vehicle and cause a less than the standard cycle time. Being able to overcome those instances and keep your cycle down in the 2-3 day range is imperative for your success.
If your cycle time is respectable you will have less stress, more opportunity for work, and the ability to recover from a file gone wrong. Lower cycle time essentially can give you a better quality of life.
Then this begs the question how can you achieve a better than average cycle time on a majority of your claims to avoid your cycle time climbing above three days? Below I’ve outlined 9 tips to lower your cycle time.
9 Tips to Lower Your Cycle Time
1. Status – There are some lesser-known metrics that you are measured by, time to first contact. Insurance companies want to know how long it takes for you to reach out to their insured. By providing a status you are lowering a section of your cycle-time. In addition, if a claim is delayed due to no fault of your own you may have the ability to pause a claims cycle time if you document how the claim events unfolded properly saving you precious days on your cycle time.
2. Have a Process – There are many ways to process the claims that you receive, but having a process is the key to moving all the claims along in an orderly manner. You can use SCA’s Dash to see all your open claims, use a claim management system for your claims outside of the SCA network, or even an excel spreadsheet to ensure you can see all your work in one place. Forgetting about a claim is sure fire way to get a bad cycle time on a file.
3. Set Aside Time for Calls – Reaching the vehicle owner is important to moving the claim along and lowering your cycle time. Set aside specific times for the day to place all your scheduling and follow up calls. This will eliminate the “dropped file” that you forgot to call and give you laser focus during your appointment setting time.
4. Focus Your Claim Hotspots – Having a large coverage area is a must for some appraisers but knowing where your claim hotspots are and scheduling your days around the different hotspots will help lower your cycle time. Yes, you may schedule a vehicle inspection out a day or two until you are in the area, but, you will achieve a lower cycle time across the board by being focused on day to day schedule.
5. Optimize Your Schedule – Before you place your calls it is important to understand your coverage hotspots, where your claims are located, and which order you should inspect them in. Not being organized or efficient with your time will hinder you from lowering your cycle time. Fight the urge to “just call the owner” and map out your ideal day and try to stick to it as much as possible while still accommodating the different vehicle owner schedules. Driving back and forth across a coverage area is a perfect way to ruin your day and cycle time.
6. Leave a Detailed Voicemail – There are few things are annoying as playing “phone tag” with a vehicle owner. One way to eliminate the phone tag is to leave a detailed voicemail for the vehicle owner. By informing them of the day and time you are available to inspect their vehicle, the owner can call back and leave you a voicemail informing you that that day and time works for them. Even if they don’t reach you they can leave a voicemail and set an appointment with your voicemail! Include instructions in your voicemail informing the owner to leave the address of where the vehicle will be located and if they will be available during the inspection. Start doing this to lower your cycle time and call volume.
7. Write the Estimate at the Vehicle – Daylight is the best friend of an auto damage appraiser and the number one obstacle to completing an unlimited number of claims in a day so it makes sense that many appraisers hurry to inspect the vehicles and don’t take the time to write the claim at the vehicle, but by taking the time to write the estimate at the vehicle you will reduce your cycle time by hours just by applying this to your workflow. Schedule an extra 30 minutes per claim to sit in your vehicle and write up an estimate before leaving. You’ll see your cycle time lower, a more accurate estimate, and less on your mind as you drive to your next claim.
8. Utilize EstimateSmith – At SCA we have an estimate support service for our appraisers called EstimateSmith. By uploading your photos and damage notes you can have our team of professional appraisers input and create your industry standard estimate saving you hours of cycle time and the burden of completing the estimate. This service has a fee of $20 and SCA passes the full fee onto the appraiser who completes the claim, we don’t profit from this service we offer it to help our appraisers.
9. Watch for Incoming Claims – During your day keep an eye on your email for new assignments. If you see a claim come in for the area you are in stop and call the vehicle owner. You may score the same day inspection and an impressive turnaround time for the completion of the claim. Build in some buffer in your schedule to accommodate any new claims in the area. These quick wins help lower your cycle time in a hurry and increase your profit for the day.
I hope you see a few ideas here that you can apply to your workflow and let us know how you keep your cycle time low in the comments.