Do you ever make mistakes? I tend to make them daily. Mistakes are how we learn but learning how to eliminate repetitive mistakes is the key to maturing as an auto damage appraiser and a person. For auto damage appraisers, mistakes mean money lost.
Certain mistakes hurt worse than others, missing a vin photo used to be a lot more painful than it is now. Driving hours back to get a photo you missed is a quick way to teach yourself the importance of not making mistakes, but now with cell phones and the ease of everything it’s easier than ever to just push through our mistakes and not learn from them.
As an auto damage appraiser your time is money and the more efficient and proficient you are at your job the more earning potential you have. There are some practical things auto damage appraisers can do to ensure that as many mistakes as possible are eliminated. Here are some tips to help you make less mistakes and be more accurate in your appraisals.
Have a Process
It’s simple, but having a process is the best way to not make mistakes. Pro auto damage appraisers have a rhythm and cadence to everything that they do. From how they schedule their day, check their email, down to how they take photos of a vehicle. Finding a process that works for you is crucial to ensuring you are more accurate and make less mistakes.
If you’ve never written down what you do for a claim, step by step. I challenge you to do it. It really is amazing once you write a process all the way out how you can start to see patterns, realize how you can do things better, and easily re-arrange the order of which you do things to see if there are advantages to doing it different.
Use a Scope Sheet
If you haven’t ever used a scope sheet before, you may be wondering what a scope sheet is or why it can be advantageous to use one. A scope sheet is a printed-out form that prompts you of information that is needed. It typically has a spot for the owner names, vehicle vin, odometer, and a place to put damages notes.
This not only allows you to keep your notes nice and neat, but it also reminds you of what you need to look for. Didn’t write down the vin? Better go get that! There are also scope sheets that show a vehicle and have different operations pointed out or highlighted on them to help you document damage in a visual way. Either type is an improvement compared to writing on a plain piece of paper.
Bring a Tablet/Laptop
Now the next step to improving your inspections is to not just do a scope sheet at the vehicle, but to bring your laptop or tablet with you to the vehicle. Inputting the vehicle information and damages directly into the computer will save you time in the long run. You may have to invest a few more minutes during the inspection, but it will also help your cycle time by completing the claim earlier in the day.
This will also help you eliminate mistakes and allow you to be more accurate in your estimates. It’s a lot easier when your hand is on the door to realize the scuff on the mirror than when you are sitting in your office analyzing photos later that evening.
Take a Video
With many appraisers replacing their digital cameras with cell phones, it brings a big improvement in functionality right in the palm of your hand. Recording a video with your cell phone of the vehicle information, damages, and a complete walk around will give you a great reference later on if any questions should arise.
With a video of the vehicle you will be able to see more angles, damages, unrelated prior damage, and the condition of the vehicle a lot more than simply having images.
Forget to take a vin photo? Use a screenshot of your video to complete your photo packet. There is also software out there that allows you to also grab a still image of your video and save it to your computer. Either way this can be a life saver if you overlooked anything or missed a photo during your inspection.
If you are inspecting a vehicle at a tow yard or shop it can be very rewarding to move broken and damages pieces out of the way to see if there are any damages to the cooling system. Pull the bumper cover that is hanging off out of the way to get a look at the reinforcement and absorber.
If you are having trouble confirming damages to the inner structure or frame of a vehicle, don’t be afraid to climb under the vehicle and take photos from underneath the car. It may be an inconvenience at the time of inspection, but it’ll save you time later by avoiding a large and unnecessary supplement later.
Apply these pro inspection tips as an auto damage appraiser to see your estimates become more and more accurate and to see less and less mistakes.
At SCA Appraisal we want to see you succeed and we have the best management system and app that will help you not miss a photo, miss a claim, or forget to document something.