For the majority of drivers, going to an auto body shop is a mysterious experience, a scary encounter with the unknown. Once you hand over your key, you instantly feel uneasy; will your car be returned as good as new, or will the repair specialists do a shoddy job? How will you know? How will you be able to figure out if you hard-earned money is just being tossed down the drain?
The best way to know if you are receiving excellent service and professional care is to find a reputable body shop and then build a relationship with that shop. However, most people who take their vehicles in to the shop are doing so for the first time. So, how do you know whether or not you can trust an auto body shop?
First of all, it is important to know that most auto body shops are reputable businesses. The majority of auto shop owners are just struggling to make a living like most small business owners – they want to do a great job on your car so you will return or refer others to their shop. However, there are a few bad apples that spoil the whole bunch, and you need to be diligent when selecting a shop.
The first thing to do is get a referral or locate a shop online using reviews and testimonials. Create a list and call each shop to see how well you are treated on the phone. Select three or four shops that sound good and are in close proximity to your location, and you are ready to take your vehicle in for an estimate.
You should get at least three estimates from three different shops. The estimate may vary because shops may use different estimating software, but they should all be in the same ballpark. If an estimate differs by a great deal, you should ask why. The body shop expert should be able to explain all prices on the estimate, including all price quotes and labor charges.
When you get the estimate, you should also be evaluating the customer service. How quickly were you acknowledged? How efficiently were you helped? Were all members of the staff polite and friendly? Did the staff seem knowledgeable? Be observant during the estimate and you will have a good idea of how you will be treated during the entire repair process. If the customer service seems lacking, move on to the next place even if the estimate seems reasonable.
If you decide to leave your car, and the shop contacts you later to tell you about additional charges, this may be a sign that it is not a reputable and honest repair facility. Though additional charges can happen occasionally, it is not a common practice for a reputable shop.
If you do your homework, have some patience, and get a few estimate, the odds are good that you will find a reputable auto body shop. Once you have found one, it helps to direct all your business to them, and refer them to others. If you do this, you will have established a good relationship, and you will no longer need to worry about finding an honest auto body shop.