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Close Up: Meet the Mitchell Editorial Team, Greg MacLean

—February 08, 2016
Close Up: Meet the Mitchell Editorial Team, Greg MacLean

As a former body man, Greg knows first-hand how important it is to have accurate estimating data. Read more about how he helps develop data for Mitchell, and the personal satisfaction he gets helping shops fix vehicles correctly.

What did you do before you came to Mitchell?

I started out doing custom restoration work. Then I was a body man for a great number of years and a production manager in a high-volume collision shop. My background in the industry has given me an understanding of what it takes to cut these cars up and put them back together, and understanding that when the technicians get a car, it's been in an accident. Because of that, they have to deal with a car that's not perfect, and it's been wrecked, but they have to return it to factory specs and what it looked like before it got in an accident.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry from when you started?

During the 10 years I’ve been at Mitchell, the overall safety of the vehicles has changed dramatically.  Mostly in advanced metals: aluminum, high-strength steel and the ultra-high-strength steel used in vehicles. These materials affect the way vehicles react in a collision.

What type of information is used in the creation of the Mitchell data?

The type of information we use to create the data for Mitchell is OEM service procedures, and we conduct time studies in body shops to verify times. We also work very closely with the manufacturers, to find out what the newest procedures and repair methods might be, and we attend a lot of OEM training.

Can you walk us through a recent customer interaction you had? What was the problem and the resolution?

Recently I dealt with a customer who was inquiring about the repairability of a BMW. He was comparing databases, and our competitor showed the entire assembly as being made of aluminum, and Mitchell did not. Because of the differences in information, he was not sure if he would be able to repair the vehicle.

I was able to get the information from the manufacturer and assure the customer that the Mitchell data was correct, and the whole front end of the car was not aluminum - only parts of it were. He was then able to put a plan together in order to fix the car, which he would not have been able to do had we not helped him.

What's your favorite thing about being on the editorial team?

My favorite part about being on the editorial team is the collaborative environment and camaraderie we have. We have a very tight team, that’s full of very knowledgeable people from the industry, and it’s a lot of fun to come into work with all these guys every day.

Why is it important to repair shops to have accurate and quality data? How does that help their businesses?

Having accurate data helps their business and their total overhead by keeping their cycle time down. It eliminates arguments with all entities involved, and gets the car back into the customer's hands as quickly as possible.

Why is Mitchell’s database better than our competitors' databases?

Because our competitors don't have our staff. Not to keep it that simple, but we do hire from the industry. There's a great deal of knowledge in the editorial staff at Mitchell. Everybody cares deeply about creating accurate data because we've all been on the other side of the fence.

What's unique about the Mitchell database is that it is built by former body men and painters, and we spend a lot of time out in the industry, working with the manufacturers, working with shops, and staying on top of the latest technology.

How do you stay current?

First, we visit shops a lot. We interact with the body men, the painters, the people doing the actual work - not just the front office. We have good working relationships with manufacturers, and attend OEM factory training every year. We attend other industry training, and have  recently attended training from PPG and BASF. As well, we’re all  I-CAR certified and ASE certified.

When I go to body shops, a lot of times it's looking for a specific vehicle that has been brought into question, whether by that body shop or another shop, so I'm looking for a specific repair process being done in that shop. On many of these occasions we conduct time studies.

Other times, we'll go into a body shop just to look around and see what's going on, talk to all the repairers, find out any problems they've had recently, and anything new they may have run into that they haven't seen before that they might want to bring our attention to.

What’s a time study?

A time study is basically a fly-on-the-wall approach that we take. We find a vehicle, preferably new vehicles, and we have a full list of shops that we deal with on a regular basis. We go in, and we film the vehicle being repaired from start to finish, and we monitor the technician's time working. So we actually time how long does it take to take a bolt out, how long does it take to drill a well out, how long does it take to weld, how long does it take to replace a rivet. We time all of these steps, and that helps us find out if the formulas we're building based off of time studies and our OEM relationships are accurate or if something needs to be changed. Maybe there's a step on that vehicle that we didn't take into account.

What do you wish everyone knew about Mitchell Estimating?

What I wish everyone knew about Mitchell Estimating is the amount of work that goes into developing a labor allowance. It's not something that we just pick out of the sky. There's a lot of work that goes into it with the OEMs, with time studies, and with research.

What do you personally get out of coming to work every day?

The personal satisfaction I get out of developing data for Mitchell is knowing that the data is accurate and is going to help the shops and the end users get the vehicle fixed correctly, and back into the hands of a customer in a timely fashion.


Want to learn more about how Mitchell Estimating can improve accuracy and profitability for your auto body repair shop? To schedule a demo call 866.639.7075.

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