Things to Know When Choosing a Repair Center
Choosing a repair center can be as simple as calling your insurer and going to the closest center on your insurer’s Direct Repair List. If you have a close repair center that is recognized by your insurer and you have the benefit of knowing the people who’ll be working on your car, truck, or motorcycle, that is great news!
But sometimes you find yourself with a vehicle needing repair when you’re not close to home. Or, if it’s your first time having your vehicle serviced, not having any prior experiences with your local repair center(s).
This means that, by circumstance or location, that you have to be open to getting repairs where you are. Finding a qualified and trustworthy repair center where you are is usually pretty straightforward, but that isn’t always the case. It may be that when you visit the first repair center your insurer suggests, something doesn’t feel right.
If you find yourself in this situation, and the voice of your subconscious is saying ‘this feels wrong’, listen to that voice.
Even if you live in a remote area with only one such direct repair center, you always have the choice of going elsewhere. Communicate with your insurer and let them know your concerns.
There are some red flags you should look out for when choosing a repair center. These warning signs can help you to decide in advance whether or not it’s a good idea to have your vehicle repaired there. These are common enough that we can list them from memory; we see them all the time.
Lack of Courtesy
When you get to the repair center, does someone greet you when they see you? It seems like a small thing, but like a firm handshake it’s a sign of honesty and professionalism.
It’s understandable for them to take a few minutes to acknowledge you if they’re busy with a customer, or on the phone when you come in, but they should at least look up and smile or say, “I’ll be just a minute.” That’s just good customer service.
If no one’s there, look for a desk bell; they may be in the shop and didn’t hear you come in. It’s okay to wait if you’re not pressed for time – they might just be washing the engine grease off their hands before greeting you.
If you find yourself sitting for longer than ten minutes without acknowledgement, it’s probably best to leave.
Rude or Unprofessional Staff
Rude or unprofessional staff are worse than a lack of courtesy. Everyone’s allowed to have a bad day, but that should never turn into rudeness towards the customer.
A repair center’s biggest responsibility is to the customer and their vehicle. Without customers, they literally have no business. You shouldn’t feel like you’re in a shakedown, or being ignored.
A good repair centre will take the time to explain what’s needed for repairs, what likely contributed to the failure (even if it’s your driving habits), and how long things should take. They should be willing – even eager – to answer your questions and make sure you’re aware of your options.
Sometimes there may be only one option for repair, such as a needed part, but they should explain that to you plainly. The more at ease you are the more likely they are to earn your business, and the better they treat you the more likely you are to return.
If you feel they are trying to rush you, it could be they are a commission shop and they’re not getting paid for the time they spend with you. It could also mean that they are swamped or short-staffed on the day you arrive. Keep these things in mind, and act accordingly. Courtesy and respect are two-way streets.
Other warning signs are a lack of uniforms or company logo’d shirts, or some degree of professional attire. Being a mechanic sometimes means you can get pretty dirty, but there’s no excuse for showing up in ripped jeans and metal-band t-shirts.
Dress for success doesn’t just apply to the office; it’s about professionalism and pride in your work.
When you get to the repair centre, ask what their typical repair time is, how soon they can get to your vehicle, and how long the repair is expected to take. They should be able to answer these questions once they’ve had a chance to look at your vehicle and assay the problem.
Look around. Are there a lot of cars pending repairs (or mid-repair) in their lot? Do any of them look like they’ve been there a long time? Are any of the long-waiting cars domestic or popular import cars – like GM, Chevy, or Toyota?
It’s sometimes expected to have to wait for parts on a repair, particularly if the vehicle being repaired is a Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover, or other luxury vehicle. Parts for these brands often have to be ordered direct from manufacturer, and in older vehicles sometimes new parts have to be machined.
However, if you see domestic brands parked on the lot and they’ve been there a long time, that’s a red flag. Sometimes it means that a shop is just waiting on payment from the customer before releasing the vehicle. Or, it could indicate that the repair centre has problems with their parts suppliers, they aren’t able to keep up to demand, or that they are inefficient.
If there are a lot of parts, assemblies, and body panels just laying around in the yard unprotected, go somewhere else.
What do people say about them?
Don’t be afraid to ask the locals, and look online for reviews from your laptop or smartphone. Most coffee shops and restaurants have free Wi-Fi these days, and the internet is a masterful resource.
Google their name and look for reviews. If what you hear locally and see online is mostly negative, avoid them.
On the other hand, if you read four or more good reviews to every one bad review, they’re probably okay.
The internet often seems to bring out the worst in complainers, and it’s good to keep in mind that what you’re reading is the feedback of the 2% to 5% of people who bothered to go home and write a review.
Look for a repair center that lives up to the following standards:
- They are professional and courteous, if not friendly.
- They are professionally dressed and patient.
- They take the time to explain what’s needed in simple language.
- There are relatively few stale repairs (cars in the yard for a long time).
- They have a clean, orderly shop and repair yard.
- They are well-liked in the community, or well-reviewed online, or both.
If the repair center you are dealing with meets most (or all) of the above criteria you can likely trust that they will take good care of you.
Here at Warrenton Auto we pride ourselves on living up to, and exceeding, all of the above criteria. It’s all part of The Warrenton Difference.
If you’re in Warrenton and find yourself in need of help, give us a call or stop by.