Estimates can vary considerably from one body shop to another. While the first shop that you get an estimate from might quote you £500, another might want £2000 for the same repairs.
Why the difference you may ask? When is it acceptable to choose to go with the less expensive shop?
This article helps you make the right decision when deciding which shop to go with for your car repairs.
Check reviews to get a sense of how customers feel about the service they've received. Also check with your friends, relatives and acquaintances for their opinions.
Sometimes a small shop might have the best reputation because the owner has a personal stake in customer satisfaction.
Consider Location and Overhead Costs
The larger the body shop, the more upfront overhead costs. These often lead to higher rates to pay the salaries of more front-office staff.
Although the service provided by the car dealer body shops, with their managers, supervisors, and front-desk staff may instil a sense of confidence in a business, estimates are often padded with non-essential costs. When you're getting charged more for labour hours, your bill grows substantially.
On the other hand, high-end shops could charge for everything needed to repair the damage.
Several Estimates Are Better Than One
The best protection that you have from being overcharged is to obtain quotes from a number of car body repair shops. However, despite your desire to avoid paying high prices, you shouldn't always automatically take the lowest bid.
The risk is that the lowest bid may have come from a fly-by-night guy who will cut corners in order to quote low just to get the work. Hiring someone like this could lead to significant problems down the road.
Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions
You are the customer, and as such, it is up to the company to earn your business.
There are some key questions that you should have answers for before hiring a body shop. Such as, is the shop's work covered by a written warranty? For what time frame is coverage provided? What does the quote cover?
Never accept less than a years warranty. Most body shops offer a 2 year warranties for their body work and 3 year warranties on the paint job.
Some even offer lifetime warranties as a selling point, but they aren't realistic due to stipulations or conditions receiving warranty service which effectively renders the warranty useless.
Also, find out if the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You'll want to make sure that you're covered if something happens and your car is stolen or destroyed.
Also find out how long the shop has been in business, and whether or not it has a license.
Finally, find out what materials that shop intends to use for your car repairs.
Are they new, or are they used? Are they original or aftermarket parts? New parts are always the best option, though in most cases used parts will work just fine too. However used parts don't offer the savings that people assume they do.
Depending on the type of damage your vehicle has sustained, aftermarket parts can save you huge amounts of money, and most of the time they're just as good as the parts that came from the original manufacturer.
If your vehicle needs to be painted, find out how many coats of paint and clear coat will be applied.
Trust Your Intuition
It's very important that you trust your intuition about any car body repair shop that you're considering.
If the shop seems to be lacking business, there is likely a good reason for it. If it's particularly disorganised, cluttered, or messy, it might reflect the quality of the work that you'll be receiving.
Does the shop owner or manager act professionally? Is he happy to answer your questions? If not, you'll be happier going somewhere else where communication is valued and the owner is straightforward with his customers.
Good luck in your quest for a quality car repair at a competitive price.