Photo documentation and the process for sorting, storing and managing photos for insurers as well as documenting pre-existing damage and other conditions before and during a repair can be a very frustrating and time-consuming process. As Autobody News talked with shop owners and managers about the productivity tools they found most helpful in their business several mentioned, with excitement and enthusiasm, a company called ClaimTools™, which has very recently been acquired by Mitchell International.
The cutting-edge solution revolutionizes vehicle repair photo management, helping shops realize immediate time-savings and reduced cycle times.
Dan Casler, Founder of ClaimTools, began developing this system in 2006 and sold its first units to body shops in British Columbia, Canada, in January 2007.
“The system took off,” said Casler. “Very quickly seventy-five of the major players in the British Columbia market were using our system.” In late 2007, ClaimTools expanded to begin selling its specially ruggedized cameras to auto body shops in Washington and California.
“Shops have a big opportunity to leverage innovative technology to improve their workflow and productivity as well as their relationships with insurers,” said Casler. He explained that some shops using the ClaimTools Camera System take as many as 2,000 photos per day.
Lee Gamboa, of Gamboa’s Body and Frame, and a user of the ClaimTools system, said, “We take about five times the number of pictures we used to take. We document pre-existing damage, and the system makes it easy for us to keep moving on the job even when an insurer has a question.” Gamboa also mentioned the added benefit of having ClaimTools back-up all images on a daily basis, in case he should ever need to recover a photo.
Steve Saunders, at Faith Quality Auto Body, Murrieta, CA is also a ClaimTools system user, explained that the wireless system enables his technicians to scan the provided barcode stickers after they are applied to a car ready for repair, and then the scanner in the camera matches the barcodes and the car whenever they take more pictures. “We just press a button and the system sends the pictures to the designated computer in the shop,” said Saunders. “We have purchased five of these cameras for our business.”
Casler said the reduction in time spent on photo documentation can be significant on each repair. “Most shops operating with a typical digital camera system can lose a good 10 minutes of production time per vehicle while waiting on someone to take pictures each time hidden damage, supplement, or in progress photos need to be taken,” he said. “In addition to the time savings realized by having techs and painters take pictures, we can save a business an additional 15–30 minutes on average per vehicle repair as well as provide the ability to efficiently take as many photos as desired, resulting in the ability for collision centers to accurately capture estimate dollars that may have been previously lost because of inadequate documentation.”
“This system is very ‘plug and play’,” said Casler. “Even novice computer users can have this system up and running in 15 minutes.” Casler explained that training for new customers is done remotely in two
parts and takes no more than an hour total.
ClaimTools is a CARSTAR network preferred supplier and is PPG-Certified First®. Now that ClaimTools is owned by Mitchell, it will become an integral part of the new Mitchell RepairCenter™—the industry’s first shop Workspace—which will be unveiled at this year’s NACE being held from November 5–7 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
“We are extremely excited about the value that combining ClaimsTools photo management technology with Mitchell’s existing portfolio brings to our collision repair customers. We found the solution to be so compelling that we will leverage its ability to automate a both time-consuming and manual process by making ClaimTools an integrated component of RepairCenter,” said Jesse Herrera, Senior Vice
President, Product Management and Marketing for Mitchell International.
“Becoming a part of Mitchell is the perfect fit for ClaimTools. They have such a rich legacy for delivering superior value to collision repairers through data, workflow automation and service. Together, we can now provide access to the ClaimTools solutions for each and every North American collision repairer looking to improve repair profitability and eliminate the administrative headaches associated with managing photos,” said Casler.