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Long hours, but a rewarding career

Mark Slater has always worked in the automotive industry; he started on a youth training scheme for bodywork repairs at his local college. Since 2004 he has been a senior estimator at Gladwins Body Repair Centre in Warboys, Cambs.

The 36-year-old begins his working day at 8am. His first job is to check the invoices that have come in from insurance companies.

“I make sure the estimates are correct and make amendments if I need to, then send them back to the insurers,” he says.

Slater then begins work on the day’s estimates. “I try to do the on-site estimates first. The non-driveable cars always take longer than the ones brought in by customers., he says. “We spend about an average of half an hour on each car.”

As well as the cars that are scheduled to be assessed, Slater leaves up to five slots free for walk-ins.

He then merges his estimates with the Audatex system, which sends a prompt to the parts department to order spares.

As senior estimator, Slater looks after two other people in his department.

“We have one other estimator and just before Christmas we took on a trainee,” he says.

“It has been rewarding working with the 18-year-old trainee. We’re working on getting his confidence levels up, getting him asking the right questions and dealing more with our customers.”

Slater started his own career in a local garage in Market Deeping, where he worked for two years on the shop floor. This fuelled his interest in estimating and he began his full-time estimating career at Lovells Auto Body Centre in Peterborough, where he worked his way up over 10 years to become a senior estimator.

Anyone considering a career as an estimator needs to be organized, enthusiastic and customer friendly. They also need to be aware that it can mean long hours.

So what’s next for Slater? “At the moment I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing,” he says. “The next step would be workshop manager. I’m sure there will be opportunities for me in the future, but for now I’m happy where I am.”

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