3 Important reasons you should work with an independent auto body repair shop

3 Important reasons you should work with an independent auto body repair shop

If you live in a medium to large market like the Raleigh, NC area you’ve probably seen a lot of chain companies taking over independent auto body repair shops near you.

There can be good reasons to work with those chain shops. But there are 3 – even more important – reasons to consider working with an independent shop for your body and paint repair needs.

In this article, we’ll explain some of the differences between the chain and independent body shops:

Repair Quality

A high quality auto body collision repair requires time. An independent auto body and paint shop is able to give your vehicle more time and attention than a chain shop.

Chain repair shops usually have more overhead costs. As a result, they need to repair a lot more vehicles per week to cover them all. This need for high volumes makes chain shops susceptible to two things:

  • Letting insurance companies dictate repairs
  • Commission-based technician pay

Insurance Company Requirements

Chain repair shops need lots of cars coming in to meet their overhead costs. Since insurance companies are authorizing repairs, it can be to the shop’s advantage if they’re on the “preferred” list. Being on the insurer’s “preferred” list is for the shop – not you.

The majority of popular insurance company adjusters are not experienced auto body repair technicians. In fact, the Indeed.com How to get hired as a claims adjuster article has a section called “develop relevant competencies” – it does not include auto body shop work as an important qualification for the insurance adjuster’s job.

To be clear, the insurance adjuster is the person who decides how much they will pay for your car repair.

Insurance company adjusters are deciding:

  1. the parts that should be repaired instead of replaced,
  2. what replacement parts you will get (OEM, aftermarket, salvage), and
  3. how much time the shop is allowed to take for a repair.

There is licensing for adjusters and the insurance companies do use a standard set of rates. However, insurance company repair rate books are usually set based on profitability targets rather than your needs in the repair of your specific vehicle.

No two accidents occur exactly the same way.

Your vehicle deserves specific time and attention that only a truly independent auto body repair shop can provide.

One more thing…

We’ve written about working with insurance companies and about getting OEM parts for your repair.

It’s not just about the parts your body shop is allowed to use – it’s about how long it takes to install, calibrate, and finish the repair.

Many aftermarket parts do not meet the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specification. If something doesn’t fit properly, the shop has to make adjustments so the replacement part is safe.

Discount insurance companies usually do not compensate the shop for this time. That leads to shortcuts. As an independent auto body repair shop that works exclusively in the Fuquay Varina NC area, we are 100% committed to doing quality repair work.

That means – no shortcuts.

Commission-based technician pay

Chain collision repair centers work on high-volume production. This means they have to be optimizing for every minute your vehicle is in their shop. On the surface, this seems like a great benefit to you, the vehicle owner. It can be – but it can also be a big challenge.

You might not even notice what their “efficiency” costs you.

An independent auto body repair shop can take the time to repair hidden damage of all kinds - like this improper previous repair using large amounts of body filler to fix a BMW X5 tailgate.

An independent auto body repair shop can take the time to repair hidden damage of all kinds – like this improper previous repair using large amounts of body filler to fix a BMW X5 tailgate.

We get cars at our shop that were improperly repaired at other places. The two most common reasons hidden damage occurs are that:

  1. someone rushed through the job or
  2. the shop could not make the profit at the rates they were being paid.

Hidden damage takes time to find. Chain shops that pay their technicians on a commission can easily miss damage that isn’t visible. That’s because it takes extra time to disassemble the vehicle. Sometimes, damaged parts are underneath or behind parts that don’t look damaged. It also takes extra time to submit insurance supplements. When the car is waiting, the technician isn’t working on it. Their incentive is to get the commission, not to wait around.

Another challenge is that, if the insurance company says a repair should take 4 hours and a technician can complete it in 2, that technician will still be paid for 4 hours of work. In the course of a week or a month, a commission-based technician can significantly increase their pay rate.

Remember that insurance company adjusters almost always under-estimate the time required for a repair. It’s true that insurance companies allow auto body repair shops to submit supplements to cover hidden damage. While different insurance companies have different processes, it’s almost always a hassle for the shop because each supplement involves a new round of negotiations with an adjuster.

This combination of a low number of approved hours with a high-commission pay structure can create a bad setup for shortcuts in repairing your vehicle. When a shop relies on insurance payments, they are almost always feeling the pressure to get cars through quickly and at the lowest possible cost to the shop.

That’s why we insist on our independent auto body shop status and we only work with select insurance companies.

Independent auto body repair shops produce more consistent quality

Locally owned and operated, independent collision repair shops are usually smaller and have a more personal approach. The same technician works on your vehicle from start to finish.

  1. Most chain shops work like a manufacturing plant. Meaning, they move technicians and vehicles around. Here’s an example:
  2. A technician starts disassembling your vehicle.
  3. They write up a list of needs and move on to the next vehicle.
  4. A second technician moves your vehicle to the frame machine and completes the straightening steps.
  5. A third technician moves your vehicle back to the repair bay and begins repairs on sections that don’t require the frame machine and starts installing new parts.
  6. A fourth technician preps your vehicle for paint.
  7. A fifth technician moves your vehicle (or parts) into the paint booth and completes the paint work.
  8. The prep technician buffs and polishes the paint once all the paint steps are completed.
  9. The assembly technician returns your vehicle to the repair bay and completes the final assembly.
  10. A “shop hand” (should) wash your vehicle and prepare it for final delivery.

Compare that to an independent auto body collision repair shop:

  1. A technician starts disassembling your vehicle and makes sure the front office knows the parts your car needs.
  2. The same tech moves your vehicle to the frame machine and straightens everything out. Then they get somebody to double-check that all the measurements are right.
  3. They finish repairing things that don’t require the frame machine and install new parts.
  4. The same tech moves your vehicle to the paint prep area and works with the painter to complete the prep.
  5. The paint technician completes the painting, buffing, and polishing before taking it back to the repair tech.
  6. The original repair tech puts the final touches on reassembly.
  7. A shop hand washes your vehicle and prepares it for delivery.

The independent auto body repair shop technician (a “combination work” technician) completes almost all the repair steps. They work closely with the paint technician so the repairs are not only mechanically sound but they look good too.

All the parts are accounted for. Nothing gets left out or tossed into a “what’s this part from” bin.

Most importantly, the shop owner is usually working alongside the technicians in the shop. It’s their name on the line – not the big chain company.

Shop Local Relationships

Photo showing the Automotive Collision Specialists team standing in front of the auto body collision and restoration repair shop.

Photo of the Automotive Collision Specialists team standing in front of the auto body collision and restoration repair shop.

While we’re at it, let’s chat about what it means to “shop local”.

Accountability to you

Remember how we said the shop owner is usually working in the shop? It’s true. Smaller, independent shop owners almost always spend time working next to their technicians in the repair shop. Chain stores have a General Manager who works for someone in the district or corporate office.

At an independent repair shop, one of your neighbors is 100% accountable to you – not the corporate folks that might have an office in a totally different state.

You’re not a number

Let’s face it, sometimes we just have a run of bad luck. It happens all the time. You get your vehicle fixed after someone runs into you and then a tree falls next to your car 6 months later.

When you call your body repair team, the same folks who repaired your car last time will likely repair it for you again. You’ll get the same quality result you got the first time – it’s the same people working on it!

We want to be clear here. The technicians who work at chain shops are usually pretty good people. It’s just that your car is, well, just another car because there are so many people working there.

At an independent auto body and paint repair shop, we know we’re working on:

  • the car your spouse takes to work every day.
  • your minivan that you use to take your kids to school in the morning and back home at the end of the day.
  • that pickup truck you rely on to safely haul things for family and friends.

We take our time so you can be confident that your vehicle has been properly repaired after a collision. After all, we’re neighbors – right?

About Automotive Collision Specialists in Fuquay Varina, NC

We specialize in classic car collision repair, transporter damage correction, and auto body restoration. We can coordinate a full restoration with our vetted partners for mechanical and interior work. Since our main focus is on the body and paint restoration work, everything in this guide is focused on the body and paint work required to perform a quality classic car collision repair.

We’ve served some of the best auto body shop customers in and near Fuquay Varina NC! Our work has been featured in magazines and museums. We’ve also done concourse level restoration work on cars that have sold at auction for more than a million dollars. That’s earned us a local reputation – and one that reaches to customers in other states as well as Canada.

The Automotive Collision Specialists team has the experience to help with your classic car collision repair needs. Why not give us a call today at (919) 552-0333 and find out how we can help?

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