The car repair industry is massive and there are a lot of companies competing for car owners’ attention. With so many options, offers and advertised specials, it’s hard to know who to trust. In recent years, many smaller body shops in Pennsylvania have been bought up or put out of business by large chains. While this may seem like a positive trend because initial estimates for auto repair services tend to be lower, it may actually be bad news for car owners.
Advantages of Choosing a Local, Family-Owned Auto Body Shop
Small, family-operated auto body shops offer better service, install top-quality parts, set their own high standards and honest prices without being influenced by insurance companies, maintain low overhead costs, and provide friendly customer service.
Great Service is Guaranteed
As with all types of big businesses in competitive industries, auto body shops that are part of a chain must meet quotas. They are expected to service a high number of vehicles in a short amount of time. Service quotas are set by managers who have likely never visited that town or talked to local customers. Quality suffers as quantity becomes a priority for these companies looking to make a set turnover. Technicians’ work is rushed, and cheaper materials are ordered. Ultimately big businesses care about profits and the bottom line, not their reputation in the community.
However, for small, family-run body shops, providing high-quality service is necessary because they rely on longstanding customer relationships, a strong reputation in the community, and word of mouth to bring in a steady flow of business. Quality is absolutely more important than quantity.
Quality is a Top Priority
Smaller businesses are more likely to use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts for repairs and replacements instead of cheaper, mass-produced aftermarket parts that are likely not a perfect fit for your car’s make and model.
A car performs best when it has the parts that were designed specifically for it. Even if they are the best option for repairs and replacements, auto body chains typically avoid using OEM parts to save time and money on the ordering and shipping processes. In addition to decreasing performance, installing cheap spare parts can lower a vehicle’s value, result in a loss of warranty by the manufacturer and create new or additional problems for the car.
Local body shops are less concerned with profit margins, quotas and the bottom line. Quality is the most important criteria to gaining positive relationships, reputation and recommendations. At Badell’s Collision, we invest the time necessary to do the job well and install only the parts that we know are reliable and durable.
Less Pressure from Insurance Companies
In general, auto body chains are heavily influenced by insurance providers because they rely so much on the referrals and work gained from their relationship.
Because insurance companies have close relationships with multiple large auto body chains, they are able to negotiate lower rates for their benefit, not necessarily for car owners. Forcing standardized prices for services can cause affiliated auto body shops to look for shortcuts and often result in low-quality, and sometimes dangerous repairs.
A locally owned body shop isn’t swayed by insurance companies. It has much more freedom and motivation to do whatever is necessary to make customers happy. Read more about car insurance and body repair coverage.
Remember, you don’t have to bring your car to the body shop closely affiliated or recommended by your insurance company. Even if your insurance agency says that your preferred body shop isn’t on their list or that it won’t warranty repairs made there, don’t worry. Dependable auto body repair shops, like Badell’s Collision, provide a lifetime warranty for all their work – including repairs and replacements.
Low Overhead Costs
Big companies have big overheads. They have to pay all of their employees, including managers, directors, CEOs, sales teams, HR, advertising and marketing staff, and so on. Plus, they have to maintain office buildings where their extensive staff work. In order to sustain this high overhead structure, estimates for customers can be padded with unnecessary services or labor charged at a higher rate. Your small repair bill can add up quickly.
Anyone who has worked with a family-run company knows that each employee wears many hats, but staff also quickly gain a deep understanding of their work. Not only can these lower overhead costs for the business, but it increases efficiency.
Customers never want to hear, “I have to ask my manager,” or “That’s against our policy.” When you’re grappling with the inconvenience and unexpected expense of car damage, you don’t need the added frustration of dealing with impersonal customer service.
Small, family-owned body shops are able to ensure customer satisfaction by eliminating strict managerial structures and inflexible company-wide policies. They make customized estimates and invoices for each customer and each repair, leaving out the added price of extra services that are often associated with a particular type of repair but deemed unnecessary in your particular case.
Related article: The importance of reading customer reviews online.
How to Find a Quality Auto Body Shop
The time you spend evaluating and selecting an auto body shop will facilitate the development of lifelong relationships with these valuable professionals. Here’s how to best approach the auto body shop selection process.
Start your search off on the right foot by embracing the power of word-of-mouth advertising. No matter the quality of service received, handling vehicle repairs is a very stressful experience that many people would just rather forget once it is finally over. Therefore, when you hear someone singing the praises of their auto body shop, you know they had a truly remarkable experience there. You can find word of mouth advertisements on your favorite social media platforms, forums or community networking sites. You may also go the traditional route by directly asking friends, family and neighbors for a referral to their preferred body shop.
Understand Your Body Shop Options
Research at least three auto body shops and read online reviews to gauge their service quality, turnaround time, and customer care. Create a pros and cons list for each shop, but don’t solely rely on reviews. Visit the top three shops to consult with service professionals. Observe the shop’s cleanliness and organization as it reflects workmanship. Check if completed vehicles are cleaned thoroughly.
When your technician comes out to speak to you, explain your situation and ask how the collision repairs will be approached. During this question-and-answer session, be sure to also inquire about:
- Body repair certifications for all techs onsite
- Shop warranty specifications
- Loaner vehicle availability
- Part acquisition practices
- Paint matching techniques
- Insurance claims and payment options
If you are comparing several shops, jot down the answers you receive for each of these questions for later review.
Get Multiple Estimates
After talking with your technician, ask about bringing your vehicle down for a repair quote. You should receive at least three repair estimates, so you can look at the proposed repair services and prices side by side. Do not choose your auto body shop by price alone, however, as that figure does little to ensure you will receive the absolute best service and support. Depending on the technician’s availability, you may need to leave your vehicle at each shop for at least an hour for the generation of an accurate quote.
Learn about Why it Matter What Quality Paint Your Auto Body Shop Uses.
When comparing the estimates, you should review the proposed repair services while paying close attention to the parts and labor categories. The shops will use established standards, part availability and cost considerations to determine the best parts to repair and identify those in need of direct replacement. The parts category on the estimate will indicate the replacement parts and materials required for the job. The labor category will show the hours required for the reconstruction efforts and part replacement services. Disposal fees and other miscellaneous charges will usually be listed last.
Although the estimates will vary a bit due to the shop policies and the technician’s approach to collision repairs, you should not notice any major discrepancies, such as extra parts or labor hours. If so, you can contact the shop in question to inquire about the overages or simply toss out that estimate to narrow down your choices.
8 Steps to Great Car Collision Repair
To demystify the process, we created a handy graphic that explains all the different steps involved in collision repair. It takes time to guarantee superior quality repairs, but we always try to get our customers safely back on the road as soon as possible. Here’s how we do it at Badell’s…
- Post-Repair Inspections -The car is thoroughly inspected following a collision. A preliminary estimate of damage is prepared and sent to the customer and then the owner authorizes the shop to process insurance claims and start repairs. Next, we contact the insurance company and start the claims process.
- Parts Order – Parts are ordered. Badell’s negotiates with insurance companies to get OEM parts whenever possible. Next, the car is disassembled and inspected for any hidden damage. We request any necessary supplements from the insurance company and work with them to get them approved. Then, additional parts are ordered and delivered.
- Repair – We keep our customers updated about the repairs required, charges, insurance coverage, and expected delivery date.
- Car Painting – When painting is required, we first prime the car body and seal it with a chip guard and rust protection coating. The car is washed and chemically cleaned before paint refinishing. Then, we follow a multi-step refinishing process using only the highest quality car paint. Then, it is baked to factory standards and our crew buffs the paint finish to give it that “like new” shine.
- Reassembly – The parts and body panels are reassembled. Technicians then perform a wheel alignment and detailing.
- Badell’s Top-Quality Assurance – The parts, repair, assembly and painting are all inspected to ensure it meets our high quality standards. The vehicle is road tested and undergoes a final delivery inspection by management.
- Timely Delivery – We aim to get our customers back on the road as soon as possible. Once the repairs pass our quality inspection, we contact customers to arrange for pick-up.
- Lifetime Repair Warranty – Badell’s Collision provides a lifetime warranty for all our work, including car painting, repairs, and replacements. This is an important part of our ongoing customer care process.
Badell’s Car Repair | Customer Satisfaction Is Our Top Concern
Rather than dealing with standardized service and robotic answers, come into a shop like Badell’s Collision – at our locations in both Aston and Malvern – where you can talk to real people who will work to find actual solutions when you have a car problem. We take pride in our work, doing business with a smile and a handshake for more than 25 years.
For more detailed information on auto body repair, dent repair, car glass repair or replacement, and car painting services, take a few moments to fill out our simple online estimate form.