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Reviews

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Graham Spencer (left) reviewing Quotimation with Greg Bailey

Graham Spencer reviews Quotimation ...

Graham Spencer has been in the smash repair industry for 38 years. Starting out as a spray painter and later running his own successful business for 15 years, and then managing many shops over the years in the trade, of recent years has been a consultant for many shops in NSW and QLD. He has relieved business owners when holidays or long service have been taken, these periods have ranged from 1 day to 6 weeks, and has provided anything from general advice, business development, and strategies and quoting or just as a relief manager. This means that Graham has a huge range and depth of experience as good as anyone in the repair industry.

This vast experience meant that Graham was the ideal man to bring in to review the latest version of Quotimation. His brief was to spend a day at Bailey Smash Repairs in North Parramatta, and use the system in the realistic setting of a busy repair shop, to see how fast he could learn the system and to see if there were any areas which he thought could be improved and to compare it to the other quoting packages being used by the rest of the smash repair industry.

His hosts for the day were Greg Bailey from Bailey Smash Repairs, and Damian Carey from Quotimation.

Carey manages the technology at Quotimation and is a 25 year veteran across technical and management roles in from the manufacturing, telecommunications, and defence industries. Those industries take for granted things like usability, performance, hugely robust and stable systems, multiple simultaneous users, live and invisible backups and updates. Quotimation has all that built in.

A Panel Beater by trade, Greg Bailey has been in the industry since 1982, and was responsible for introducing Auto Quote into his dad’s shop in 1987. He has been running Bailey Smash Repairs since 2006, and using Quotimation since 2008.

Graham Spencer takes up the story ...

Overview

 Quoting packages sit right at the centre of every repair business, so they have a massive effect on your business.  A better system will save you time, save you money, and help you avoid problems. A worse system wastes your time and money every day.  After using all the main packages on the market there are only 3 that I would ever consider recommending, and two of those charge like wounded bulls! Even the better packages are showing their age in that nothing has changed for years. Every other aspect of the industry has moved on except for the quoting packages. So it was interesting to have a look at Quotimation to see if it was any good, and if it offered anything new. The idea was just to use it all day in busy shop and see how it handled all the situations that came up. It’s a bit hard to know how to set this out, but here are some thoughts ...

Quoting

Quotimation is a great package for quoting. Firstly you have a choice between all the standard ways to write quotes, so it would suit a quoter from just about any background. You can use codes, or use butterfly diagrams and choose items from a list, or templates, or type things in.  You can even set it up so the lists are automatically Left/Right or Off/Near.  The quotes are set out really nicely on the screen - just like a printout. You add or edit anything in your quote right there. Easily move lines up or down, delete, copy, duplicate lines, convert to blend, put on-report, add a reversing line, or add loadings. You can change times or dollars or rates. You can change category rates or single line rates. You can have multiple paint groups all nicely laid out. You can see all variations together, or just one at a time. It is really clear if a line has been sent to an insurer, or if the assessor has adjusted it, or what your original value was. It is clear if parts have been quoted, ordered or delivered.  I couldn’t find anything I could not do.  Quoting is fast and flexible, and the layout is clear.

Integration

It seems to be integrated with just about everything.  PNET, EstImage, ORM, NTAR, LTAR, EMTA, WebTrim, PartsCheck, QParts, MYOB, SMS. PNET and ORM integration is very nice. It is fully inside Quotimation, and your quote does not get locked after you send it to the insurer. It is really clear what state the quote is up to - and it is easy to see what lines have been sent, and what has been adjusted. Also, it lets you know when new messages have arrived from PNET or ORM, so there is no need to go checking. NTAR and LTAR times are live in the system. And there is a nice allowances tool for easily adding all the required allowances and loadings. Real time savers.  EstImage is very nicely integrated as well. Sending to EstImage takes seconds, plus there is a nice tool for entering assessor’s adjustments that makes it fast and mistake free to make the returned changes.  For parts you can use PartsCheck or QParts. PartsCheck is more comprehensive, but QParts is a really fast and simple way to get part numbers plus your list and buy price directly from your own supplier. You just drag and drop the data file and your quote is populated.

Automation - History, Alerts

Everything mentioned so far is pretty standard stuff, and Quotimation does all of it well. But Quotimation also does a lot of things automatically that are better than I've seen in other packages. History is recorded automatically. When you use Quotimation each user can sign in with their own name. Then every time you or your staff do anything - like print a quote, submit to PNET, request part prices or email a quote - it is all recorded in the history. For everything that has happened you can instantly see what, who, when and why. That is incredibly useful time saver in any larger shop where you can't possibly remember everything that has happened.  Alerts are also automated. They’re intelligent and they come and go as things happen to the job. For instance when a car is checked in you will get alerted for parts that are not ordered or delivered. When a vehicle is checked out you get alerts if the insurer has not been invoiced.  Even backups are automated and no one has to stop work while they are happening. They can be automatically sent off site to private storage every hour. Sure beats the old Friday afternoon floppy disks!

Handling Interruptions

Every repairer’s office is getting interruptions all day from customers, insurers and staff. They have to be dealt with, but if it is not done efficiently you are wasting time every day. Quotimation is top shelf in handling interruptions. Firstly, the searching for information is easy and fast. It’s just like a google search. Put in any information you have, like “blu commo” and it instantly finds every quote that matches. Any information from quote numbers, customer names, assessor names, VIN, rego, claim number, and much more. Excellent.  Once you have found the quote you are looking for all the history, the notes, and the alerts are sitting right in front of you. You can see if it has been emailed, and who emailed it, if its been authorised or anything else. The idea is that whoever answers the phone has enough information at their fingertips to answer the question without the needing to go and find anyone else. Doing this properly saves mountains of time.  Once you have dealt with the interruption there is a “Recent Estimates” button that helps you immediately return to where you were before the interruption.

Shop Reports and Overviews

There are a few quite simple but really effective screens for monitoring what is going on in your shop. These are well designed and clear and give a nice quick peek at what is happening around your shop. Firstly the “Time Line” screen just show a list of all the vehicles that are either due in, currently on site, recently checked out. At a glance you can see exactly what is going on. Very simple, very clear, and very effective. There are several other easy reports that show lists like - what is due in, what is on site, what vehicles have alerts, what is due out - and all sorts of other quick peeks at you business.

 Other features

Another simple but great little feature is the “Site Notice Board”. Users can send messages to each other. This is perfect for leaving phone messages, or setting TODO lists, or even for reminders to yourself. Like everything else in Quotimation you don’t need to manually check for messages - the button flashes when something is new and you can go and check it out.

     There are lots of other features we only touched on including ...

  • sending SMS from inside Estimates
  • a Loan Cars module - including warnings for when rego and insurance is due!
  • you can put your logo on your printouts
  • a nice full featured imaging module that lets you look at images while you quote.

Summary

It’s a great package. It runs rings around most packages, and sits comfortably with the top packages. It suits everyone from experienced users in big shops with multiple people accessing and sharing the data, through to small shops just introducing a package for the first time.  I only had a day – so there will be lots of other features I never stumbled across, but everything I saw and used was good. It is well thought out and consistent so you can find your way around. Quoting is simple and fast. Most features are easier to use than other systems.  Multiple people can access the same quote at the same time. It actively tells you where problems are. It does a lot of things automatically behind the scenes. In the end it's a top quality package that will save you time and money, and it will help you avoid problems. Simple as that. I would happily recommend it for anyone - big or small, city or country.