Should Your Shop Use Free Auto Repair Estimate Software?

Free car repair estimators look enticing at first but can cause problems down the road. A full-fledged shop management system is well worth the upgrade.
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Repair estimates are the foundation for your shop’s revenue. But how you estimate work and send those findings and estimates over to your customers will shape your shop’s profitability, your customer relationships, and how professional you come across to your customers. 

Some shop owners might be tempted to use the free online car repair estimator tools to run their own estimates. But will this shortcut actually help your shop get to where you want it to be?

Free Estimates Versus Paid Software

If you’re relying on free estimate tools for your customers’ estimates, you might run into some issues. Maybe the online estimator tool isn’t updated with the most recent info on a customer’s vehicle. Or, if your local tax laws changed, the estimate might not reflect that. 

So, how accurate are car repair estimates? They aren’t very accurate and aren’t as reliable as paid shop management software. They simply can’t tie into the rest of your shop’s system and processes. 

A shop management software not only provides estimates to your customers but can also further explain vehicle repairs via digital vehicle inspections. A shop management system will give your shop:

  1. A workflow to build estimates with speed and accuracy 
  2. A methodical system for analysis
  3. Digital tools and integrations
  4. The ability to track declined jobs
  5. Better compliance standards
  6. A direct tie to all shop systems
  7. The capacity to set and reach profit goals

Free car repair estimator tools might seem like they help you in the moment, but over the course of your career, they can limit your ability to grow. There’s a tendency for people to rely on a solution longer than may be beneficial. To overcome this tendency,  it’s important to understand it. 

Book more repairs with accurate estimates.

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What a Free Car Repair Estimator Won’t Tell You 

While free auto repair estimate tools help drivers gain a sense of what the repairs could cost, they simply base that on the limited information that you provide. 

If you scroll down on most of the auto repair cost estimators, you’ll see a “Repair Cost Estimator Legal Disclaimer” that will likely include the following statements: 

  • Estimated price is customized for your vehicle make, model, year, and trim, but does not include diagnostic charges, taxes, disposal or environmental fees, oil or other fluid costs, or other ancillary parts that may be needed for the repair. 
  • Vehicle repair costs may vary from vehicle to vehicle. 
  • Actual repair costs will vary based upon labor rates, time required for repairs, actual parts used, your vehicle’s condition, and any other circumstances pertinent to your particular repair job. 
  • This estimate is to be used for informational purposes only and is only intended to serve as a general guide. 
  • Always consult a certified automotive technician before making important auto repair and service decisions. 

The last two disclaimers are big ones. As you can tell by the language, estimators are for customers, and they’re only rough estimates. Any time a customer receives an estimate from an auto repair shop, they want to know exactly what they’re about to spend on the repairs. Using a free auto repair estimator tool will not include the taxes, fees, and any specific vehicle information that might affect the price, or any potential underlying issues that might increase your customer’s total. 

The best way to earn your customers’ trust is by giving them accurate car repair estimates that clearly show the details and the reasoning behind your estimate.

Upgrade from a Free Car Repair Estimator 

A free car repair estimator might seem like it saves your shop time and money, but will likely lead to more mistakes and inefficiencies that end up costing you time and money down the road. And if you get into the habit of only using free online estimators, you are limiting yourself. 

When you use Tekmetric to give your customers a clear, accurate picture of exactly how much repairs will cost, they’ll be able to make informed decisions—and will see your shop as professional, organized, and reliable. 

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