One thing that is always difficult to explain and have understood is the estimating process for any type of old vehicle, whether a classic car, muscle car, street rod, antique car, vintage truck, old American sport car, or even an old race car. The fact is that even if your shop specialized in one single Manufacturer, Make & Model car, you still might not be able to accurately estimate a complex repair, engine restoration or full body restoration because there are just so many variables, and too many unexpected surprises that can come up.
What Do Restoration Shops Say About Estimates?
Crusin' Auto Body of Michigan describes their estimating procedure as, "Restoration projects can be difficult to estimate because there are so many unknown repairs on any project. This makes it very difficult to predict the cost of a restoration because we can only estimate what we can see, we cannot see under the paint, carpet, etc. The true cost is only seen during the actual repair process and each restoration does hold its own unique challenges. To begin the estimating process we will take numerous photos of the vehicle. We will then obtain parts prices, estimate time for obvious fabrication/repairs that may need to be completed, estimate time for the paint process, etc. We will discuss specific requests for your project also. With this information we will then give you a general idea of the cost to repair what we can see. When the vehicle arrives at the shop we will disassemble the vehicle and completely strip the vehicle of all paint and fillers. At this point we can see the true extent of the repairs needed and any additional repairs can be estimated. We can also make recommendations as to the options available to complete the project and estimate a timeline for completion. We can assist you in choosing a mechanic shop and/or upholstery shop if needed but these costs are not part of our estimate. Auto restoration is a substantial financial commitment. Customers that want to complete a restoration project should be prepared for the investment. All restoration projects are billed on a time and materials basis only."
David Grainger, President of The Guild of Automotive Restorers and Guild Classic Cars of Ontario, Canada wrote a very comprehensive explanation, which I thought was well written and had good examples to back up his points. Since it is rather lengthy, I've provided it as a link which you can open in a separate window.
"Why? Because shops are correct when they say there are added procedures required when working with a used part. There is, first and foremost, what I call the R, R and I time. You aren't just removing and reinstalling (R&I) a part. There's often an added step.
"Say that you're replacing a damaged door with a used door. You have to remove the door handle off the damaged door if you are going to reuse it. That's one remove (R). You have to remove the handle off the used replacement door. That's a second R. Then you have to reinstall the handle on the used door once it has been painted. That's the install (I). So it's not just R&I. There's two "removes" and one "install". It's R, R and I. That's additional labor.
"I'm not a promoter of used quarter panels; in most cases I don't think it's a proper or OEM-approved repair. But if you choose to use one, there are plenty of R, R and I requirements that you need to keep in mind. You may have to remove the striker off the damaged panel, and the one off the used replacement part, and then reinstall one on the used part once it has been painted. That's R, R and I. The same could be said for door seals or gas doors or any number of parts." - Mike Anderson
We, as an industry, are faced with many challenges on a daily basis. Clearly, having an understanding of our customers, including what they want, and what the obstacles are for them to achieve this is key to delivering a final product that they're happy with. Unfortunately, not all businesses view the relationship with their customers as a #1 priority. This is the topic of another article this week entitled, "What's Wrong With These People!"
Mike Anderson, a former shop owner, currently operates CollisionAdvice, a training and consulting firm. He also acts as a facilitator for DuPont Performance Services' Business Council 20-groups. Mike's comments were reprinted with permission from CollisonAdvice courtesy of ABRN.
Guy Algar is Shop Manager of Motorheads Performance, a shop which specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920's through 1970's. Guy is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years.
ABRN - Auto Body Repair Network
CollisionAdvice - Mike Anderson
Database Enhancement Gateway
Guy L. Algar, Shop Manager Motorheads Performance, Leesville, Texas
Cruisin' Auto Body of Michigan
Wilson Auto Repair, Garland, Texas
The Guild of Automotive Restorers and Guild Classic Cars - David Grainger
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920’s through 1970’s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.