Someone hits your car in the parking lot and drives off without so much as a note. You do what you’ve been told to do: you call your insurance company. They give you their ‘preferred list’ and reenforce their preference by suggesting that if you go somewhere other than the shops on the list, your repair will not be guaranteed.  In an effort to narrow your choices (and find the right shop), you ask your friends and family for advice. And boy-oh-boy, do they all have opinions! Now you’ve got 20 or more voices recommending 20 or more shops… and you’re no closer to knowing where to take your car for a trusted experience than you were before.

How do you know where to go?

This scene plays itself out day after day for thousands upon thousands of people all looking for just one thing: the right place to take their car for repair. And its a fact: there are hundreds of options, and unless you know the ins-and-outs of the collision repair industry – even the best intentioned advice may lead you down a road you might not wish to travel.

Choosing a Body Shop 101

A. Insurance companies’ ‘Preferred’ or ‘Recommended’ shops have a two-way financial arrangement

When an insurance company recommends or suggests that you consider their preferred body shop vendors, they are helping you help themselves.  To make the ‘preferred’ list, body shops DO NOT have to qualify as the best in quality, service or guest experience. They DO have to agree to move cars through the shop as fast as they can, and they MUST NOT contest the insurance company’s demands to use less expensive used or aftermarket parts in your vehicle’s repair.  The name of this game is all about saving the insurance company money – and has little to do with the quality of repair or overall safety of the insured. There is a huge amount of information available for the savvy consumer – and here is a good place to start.  A body shop that is 100% independent of partnerships with insurance companies are often a good alternative when seeking a ‘right’ repair vs. a ‘rushed or cheap’ fix. Please note: these independent body shops will never be included on an insurance company’s ‘preferred’ list – and that is likely the best endorsement of all.

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B. Dealerships may or may not provide on-site repair options

Occasionally consumers think that if they take their car to the dealership, they are more likely to get a repair with the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) parts. Few dealerships actually have body shops on-site.  If the repair is to be handled by an insurance claim, it is the insurance company who typically requires the use of less expensive aftermarket and/or used replacement parts. The great majority of dealerships refer their customer’s repair to outside shops. And those recommendations can usually be trusted, because their own reputation is on the line.


C. Word of mouth can be tricky to navigate

Many people agree that word of mouth is the very best form of marketing, however it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of voices. Who do you trust? What is the motive behind their referral? Since the rise of Web2.0 and social media, consumers have at their fingertips many different 3rd-party resources that offer (in most cases) true, unbiased reviews of the guest experience. Additionally, its a wise practice to refer to any information available to consumers by way of a shop’s website, involvement in the community and their reputation among industry leaders.  All of this is readily available to the consumer by way of an Internet search, and may prove to be more reliable than by asking close friends and family.

In the end, all reputable body shops guarantee their work.  A simple online search should be followed up by a visit to the shop and a brief interview with the ownership or management.  Remember, you absolutely have a choice of which shop you want to repair your vehicle. In the end, people do business with people that they know, like and trust. If you find one of those people, you’ll discover an excellent experience.

PS: If you’re ever unsure about the quality of repair performed by any body shop, you can always have a visual post-repair inspection done at no charge here at Nylund’s Collision Center.

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