1) Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth
Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.
2) Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead
“Where you get screwed in our business is labor hours,”.
Large body shops with a lot of front-office workers probably have to charge higher rates to pay their staff. While service delivered by front-desk folks, managers and foremen gives some people a feeling of confidence in the business, it can result in estimates that are padded with non-essential work. When they’re charging more labor hours at a higher rate, your bill can add up quickly.
Body shops and garages use reference guides that estimate the number of hours required to perform common repairs.
By contrast, the higher-end shops might decide to charge for everything in “the gray area,” meaning those things that they might have to do to fix the problem. High-end estimates might include a charge for time spent removing the hood and the door, while the judgment call is not to perform this additional work.
3) Get Several Estimates
Taking your car to several auto body shops for repair quotes is the best way to avoid overcharges. “We’ll tell people to go get some estimates and bring ’em back to us. We’ll match estimates.”
And while it’s important to protect against being overcharged, you shouldn’t simply take the lowest quote. You might get some kind of midnight guy who will say ” he can do it really cheap,”. Stay away from those guys, because there is something they’re not doing. You could have major problems down the road.
4) Ask the Right Questions
When choosing a body shop, “you don’t go in with your pocketbook open,” “You go in smart,” and ask some key questions. Does the shop provide a written warranty? And if so, for how long? What does the warranty cover?
A one-year warranty is a minimum. Some shops offer lifetime warranties as a selling point, but that sometimes isn’t realistic.
“Most of the stipulations and conditions those warranties require are more restrictive than the majority of people can adhere to. “So basically, the warranty becomes useless.”
Another key question is whether the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You want to be sure you’re covered if your car is destroyed, stolen or burglarized.
You will also want to know about the materials the shop intends to use. Are new, used or aftermarket body parts going to be used? New parts are obviously the best and used parts are fine, though they don’t offer the savings people imagine. Depending on the damage to your vehicle, aftermarket parts can save a lot of money and can be just as good as the ones that come from the original manufacturer. If paint work is involved, ask how many coats of paint and clear coat the shop intends to use.
5) Follow Your Intuition
Finally, it’s important to trust your intuition about the shop you’re considering. If a shop isn’t busy, maybe that’s because customers are avoiding it because of shoddy repairs. If the place is really dirty, cluttered or disorganized, this might reflect the kind of work you could expect the shop to do with your car. Is the shop owner or manager a grouch who seems to resent answering your questions? You’ll be happier with a shop where the owner communicates well and is straightforward with customers.
“Trust your gut,”. “If something is to good to be true, most likely it is”.