Getting telescoped into a brick wall is not the only way you may need the services of a collision repair service or body shop. A vehicle can need attention due to storm damage, rust and corrosion, acid rain or long-term exposure to harsh conditions.
An accident is most people's introduction to the body shop, however. It starts for many with the incorrect notion that the insurance agency will take care of the body shop. Even if that were the case - and it is not - you would not want someone with interests different from yours making decisions for you.
So, let's figure out how you can find the right body shop for your needs.
Before it happens
Don't wait until your picking your teeth up off the hot asphalt. Find a body shop you are comfortable with before you ever need to use it.
Ask friends and co-workers for recommendations. Even in this world of robot dogs and laser guns, low-tech recommendations from people who've already been through it are still a sure-fire way to find a reliable trades person.
Before you pay one red cent, call the Better Business Bureau and other organizations that keep track of consumer complaints and find out how many complaints, if any, have been levied against the shop you're considering and how, if at all, they were resolved.
Always visit the shop. Take a serious look at the place and the people. Make sure you're comfortable with the level of professionalism and cleanliness in the shop and competence of the technicians.
Find out if the shop you're considering has experience with your make and model of car. How much experience?
How long has the shop been in business? Under the same owner?
Are the technicians and other staff unhurried and courteous? Do they take careful note of what you need?
Are there signs of professionalism in the customer service area: civic and community service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau, customer service awards?
How are the supervisors and technicians communicating while they work on or discuss other cars? Are they calm and dedicated?
Are there signs that the staff is technically competent, such as trade school diplomas, ASE certifications, and certificates of advanced course work training from I-CAR?
Are all policies posted or explained to your satisfaction?