So you’ve found yourself in need of collision repair. Whether it’s a small out of pocket job or a major insurance claim, choosing the right place to bring your car can be daunting and confusing. All body shops are not created equal! Where do you even begin looking for a shop?
Word of mouth is usually the first source for people looking for any professional. Asking around to friends or family is a great way to find recommendations based on trusted personal experience. Did they have a good experience? What did or didn’t they like about a business? Where did they find that shop?
Another great source is to contact your vehicle manufacturer. They will only recommend a shop that is certified in repairs for your make. These shops will be trained and have the equipment that might be specific to your car.
Refer to the internet. Any reputable business will have a Google listing, and a really reputable business will have positive reviews. Be wary of just the first listing that will pop up. Often these are ad listings, and just because a business pays for the top search spot doesn’t mean they’re a top shop. Read the reviews. See how previous customers react to their experience. Check out their website. Is it up to date? Can you see pictures of the shop? Do they have a blog?? You can get a pretty decent gauge of the quality of the shop based on the effort they put into their website. One step past a Google search is specifically an auto body shop search engine. To name a few:
After you’ve done some browsing and if you have the time, stop by the actual shop. Most repair shops offer free estimates, which is a great way to feel out where you’ll potentially be taking your car without having to commit just yet. Is the shop clean? While body work is dusty and messy, does it look professional? Is the office welcoming? Are the techs actively working or are they hanging out? Can you see any repair jobs in process? Does their equipment look up to date? Ask about their equipment and technology. Most new vehicles have a ton of electronic and computer controlled bells and whistles. Does the shop have the means to service your vehicle’s features? Some of this tech can be very expensive, so it’s not unreasonable that they may not have it all, but then ask them how or where they take care of these things. If they do, chances are they are proud to show off their equipment!
Finally, check or ask about their trainings and certifications. I-CAR (Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair) is an international non-profit training organization. Being I-CAR certified is a pretty good measure that the shop you’re in is legit. The Gold Class is awarded to a business that has met the industry’s standard for training that contributes to a complete, safe, and quality repair. Also look for OEM certifications. These are direct from the manufacturer and prove the business is registered in that manufacturer’s repair network. Lastly, ask about the shop’s warranty. A quality shop will have a thorough warranty explaining and guaranteeing their workmanship for life.
More important than certifications, and accolades, and reviews is your comfort at a shop. When you go to get the estimate, did you feel confident in the people you were speaking to? Do you feel safe leaving your car at this shop? Were all of your questions answered and concerns addressed? Were your customer service representatives patient and helpful? You will have to live with the end results of the repair. Make sure you feel comfortable returning to the shop if ever the case arises that you have to go back.