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Advice for anyone in need of a body shop / collision repair

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Old 10-17-09, 09:19 PM   #1
MarciaB
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Default Advice for anyone in need of a body shop / collision repair

Often posters are looking for information on good body shops ~ collision repair etc.

I recently posted a response to another post with some of this info, and received some positive comments. Coming into deer hit season, followed by another Chicago winter, I thought this might be a good time to elaborate in a sperate post.

I own a body shop, and have for 25 years, but am not soliciting work. My purpose for this post is only to educate and inform any one who is in need of body work.

This seems kind of obvious, but the more damage your car has sustained, the more important it is to have it repaired in a quality repair facility. For minor repairs, and customization work a small shop, or guy doing side work often can do a fine job, for less money, but for anything more substantial it is very important to chose a shop that is honest, ethical, has the right equipment and trained technicians.

The best time to find a good body shop, is before you have an accident.

THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT ITEMS IN FINDING A QUALITY COLLISION REPAIR CENTER

1. Choose a Shop that will work FOR YOU, with your insurance company.
This is so important!!! Today most all insurance companies have DRP’s(direct repair shops). DRP shops sometimes make great concessions’ to insurance companies to be on their “list”. Like anything, there are reputable shops that are DRPS, but there are also some really bad ones.

Don’t let your insurance company tell you where to have your car repaired! Make it YOUR choice. If your very lucky, your chosen shop might be on your insurance companies ‘list’

Some insurance companies make it more difficult than others, but especially in the case of a moderate to heavily damaged vehicle - you need an advocate who has your best interests in mind to negotiate the repairs of your vehicle, and someone to insist the car not be repaired if they feel it won’t be safe.

2. Find a Shop you can Trust
On rare occasions a customers will ask to include damage costs that are clearly not a part of the accident, or pad an estimate to save a deductible. A shop that would consent to either of these requests is committing insurance fraud, and cheating the insurance company. If they are unethical enough to cheat them, they are probably cutting corners on your repair and cheating their customers also. Find an honest ethical shop, whom you can trust.

3. Visit a Shop, Look Around, Ask Questions
I still find it amusing when customers come into either of our shops and comment on how they are just not what they expected a body shop to look like. I guess they were expecting to see a dark dirty shop with indecent posters all over. For the most part, I think the majority of shops cleaned up their dirty body shop image a few decades ago, but some customers still have that image of body shops. I personally feel it very important to promote a better image of collision repair shops, but that is only one item to consider when choosing a repair shop.

Ask for a shop tour, is the shop clean? Keep in mind it is a working shop, there is going to be some dust, etc, but it should be orderly.

What kind of cars are they working on? A restoration shop, might not be the best place for you to have your new model Lexus repaired, and likewise if you have a 69 Camaro, you might not want it restored in a shop that is working on all late model collision damage.

Investments in Equipment are essential for any car that has sustained major collision damage. It is absolutely necessary the shop has a computerized frame measuring system, and proper welding equipment. To obtain the best finish on a car, a shop should have a down draft paint booth. Ask if they have this equipment.

Technicians- Frequently customers are concerned that their painted panels will match. They often don’t think about the repairs being done prior to painting. While color match IS important, having a qualified body tech measure their cars’ unibody or weld their quarter panel on is of much greater importance.

Ask a few questions about the shops technicians. How long have they been employed there? Did they go to technical school? Are they receiving current training? Do they have specific training on your make of car?

CSI - A reputable shop should be having Customer Satisfaction Indexing done by a third party. Ask to see a recent report. That being said, remember in any business as hard as one tries, there is always that ‘one’ customer no matter what you do they will never be 100% satisfied. With my name on the door, having any unsatisfied customers really bothers me, but sometimes there are just people who are never 100% satisfied with anything. To me, our most valuable measure is how many customers would refer your shop to friends and family. (last year 99.6%)

Shop Warranty on Repairs- This item also goes back to insurance DRP shops. Insurance companies will often advise you if you don’t use one of their shops, repairs might not be warrantied. The fact of the matter is, it is the SHOP issuing the repair warranty, not the insurance company. We offer a lifetime warranty on all collision repair damage. I think any reputable shop should do the same.

The best way to find a quality shop is simple, personal referrals , ask your friends, family, online, dealership referral or all of the above.

A few more things to know:
You don’t have to obtain multiple estimates for your insurance company. If you want to shop around, that’s fine, but if you have a shop your comfortable with, there is no need to spend the afternoon collecting multiple quotes for their benefit. Fact is , in most case the insurance company will write their own estimate anyway, and that is ok, we use that as a starting point.

On Estimates - Differences in repair estimates are common. A lower estimate may not include all necessary work. If you're not sure why one estimate is different from another you've received, ask your estimator. For minor repair, a final bill is often the same as the estimate for repairs, but as a general rule, the higher the amount of the estimate, the more likelihood of additional hidden damage, thus a higher cost for final repair. A good estimator should write an estimate for all obvious damage, there is often hidden damage that is impossible to see without disassembly of the vehicle.

On Insurance Company Estimates- They are always low. With the economic conditions today, so many customers are ‘cashing’ out. Their preliminary estimate is low, so if you do ‘cash out’ on a claim, you will not be getting the full cost to repair your car. On the other hand, if you have your car repaired, the insurance company will re-inspect for additional damages and pay for necessary repairs.

Parts- Of course OEM is best- but these days, most ALL insurance companies will write for a remanufactured bumper cover if a car is more than a year or so old. They are often a substantial savings over OEM. Reman bumper covers ARE OEM bumper covers that have been damaged and repaired. This isn’t something to go to war with your insurance company over. Aftermarket sheet metal is - luckily most of the cars we work on, those parts aren’t even available. Even though aftermarket parts now have some standards, from a repair shops perspective, they don’t fit well and I wouldn’t want to use one to repair my car. Used parts - if you have an older car that is repairable, your insurance company might request a used part, this is sometimes acceptable, this might keep your car from being totaled, and it is at least an OEM part. On a older car we will consider using a used door, but never a structural panel that needs to be welded, like a used quarter panel.

On Insurance Companies- I will not name names.. But there are certainly some way better than others in regards to both the consumer AND repairers. As a body shop owner, there are some companies I would never consider for my personal vehicles because of the way they do business with collision repair shops. There are also a number of companies that will work with any shop and pay for necessary repairs. Its important do also do your homework on insurance companies.

On Substandard Insurance Companies- If you have the very unfortunate circumstances to have an accident with someone who has a substandard insurance company, just give up, and go through your own insurance company, ASAP. These companies shouldn’t even be allowed to be in business and you would never want to even come close to one of their “preferred shops”.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet- I kind of hate to say this because for my company the vast majority of reviews and comments are very positive.. But we too have had a few false/inaccurate reviews. Many years ago, I came across one review that stated a customer got a high estimate at our shop, then got the car repaired at another shop in our town. It stated the type of car and when the estimate was done, I checked and we did not do an estimate for that make of car anytime close to the stated repairs. The same poster wrote a glowing review on the same day for competitor. He didn’t trash us, but he also didn’t get an estimate from us. A false review can be posted by a competitor, ex employee, or an unhappy customer. With any review, I always check the posters other reviews. If there are other rational reviews, I give it credibility, if there are no other reviews, I don’t take as seriously.

This is probably way more information than most readers will ever need, but hopefully a good resource for anyone in need of collision repair.
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Old 02-22-10, 04:37 PM   #2
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Spam?
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Old 03-05-11, 07:06 PM   #3
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Default Advice for anyone looking for a good body shop or collision repair

I posted this a couple of years ago on my local thread, NOT to solicit work only to inform.. my husband and myself do own 2 collision repair shops in the Chicago area that specialize in Lexus and Toyota.. We have been the sole collision repair shop for our local Lexus dealership since 1989.. also do work for the MW regional offices of Lexus and Toyota and port of entry.. I thought this info might also be helpful posted on other regional boards..

https://www.clublexus.com/forums/chi...on-repair.html
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Old 03-05-11, 08:37 PM   #4
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Marcia, one thread is fine but please don't spam.
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Old 03-05-11, 09:08 PM   #5
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I truly wasn't trying to spam.. I had put link on 4 regional boards only trying to educate.. should have put only one here.. sorry have deleted the others

Last edited by MarciaB; 03-05-11 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 04-16-11, 04:02 PM   #6
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I live in the Chicago suburbs, just purchased a 2008 ES 350 Lexus last week and was rear ended last night. Can you tell me the name of your shop and where you are located? I am devastated - this is the car of my dreams - and now, I need it fixed.
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