Keeping an Eye Out: CARSTAR on the contact-free future

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— CARSTAR Canada says services introduced to comply with current social distancing protocols could be here to stay when operations return to normal.

During a broker-specific webinar on Tuesday, CARSTAR Canada General Manager Jeff Labanovich said it is likely that adapted contactless procedures like photo-based estimation and vehicle pick-up and drop off will stick around post-pandemic.

“Services like photo-based estimation, for example, are here and they’re here to stay,” said Labanovich. “I think we’ll see a lot more services like this in the future.”

He added that, while photo-based estimation can be useful, it is not yet at the point where it can provide full-fledged estimates.

“Photo-based estimation is a fantastic tool to start to triage the damage you are facing,” he said. “But we don’t see it, certainly at this point in time, as a something that provides a final, conclusive estimate.” 

Instead, Labanovich said it “should be used it for the right reasons,”—to determine if the vehicle is driveable, determine any needed parts and show us aspects we may need to look into further.

“I want to make sure that we use photo-based estimating as a tool to help expedite the repair and not as a way to achieve an etched-in-stone final estimate,” he said.

Like many companies, CARSTAR was forced to adjust to pandemic protocols in order to continue safely serving the community. While Labanovich said the company “did not have a playbook for this kind of situation,” the brand has taken steps to implement photo estimation and vehicle pick-up and drop off services, along with several other services and support initiatives for its shops.

The company is also keeping an eye on Canadian driving statistics as businesses reopen across the country this week.

“We aren’t expecting a V-shaped curve once things start back up, but more of a U-shape,” said Labanovich.

Using data collected by CARSTAR, Labanovich said miles driven currently sit at a 37 percent decline from normal levels, up 10 percent from last week when miles driven were 47 percent down.

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