The best way to start is to do some preliminary research. Visit websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or any of the multitude of repair shop review websites to scout for prospects. Check with friends or colleagues to see if they would recommend a shop they’ve used in the past. Often, the best advice comes from someone in your social network who has seen the shops work first-hand.
Next, check with professional organizations. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) and America’s Collision Repair Association (ACRA) are both useful resources to use when looking for a dependable shop. Shops typically have to maintain rigorous standards and uphold a code of ethics to gain membership. To go a step further, once you have narrowed down your search, you can check to see if their repair technicians are certified by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). These technicians have undergone specialized training which sets them apart from the rest.
When you visit the shop, make sure that it is clean and has a professional appearance; this is a reflection on their work. Confirm the shop is licensed in your state and, if needed, ask to see a copy of their license. Make sure they can do work on your make and model of vehicle. Show them your appraisal and find out if they will have any problems ordering the necessary parts. If everything looks good, get a timeframe for when you can drop off your car and when the work should be completed. Ask to be kept updated on the repairs as they progress. Also, take this time to discuss any deductible you may be responsible for and make sure that everyone is on the same page as far as what will be owed upon completion.
When the time comes to pick up your car, give it a good once over. Closely check the area which was damaged. See if the body panels line up and the paintwork matches. Check that the hood, trunk, and doors all open and close properly if they were affected by the impact. Bring up any concerns you have before taking your vehicle. It will be much easier to get them addressed on the spot rather than days or weeks later.
If an issue does come up down the road, call the shop to report it. Most will address legitimate complaints and work to correct them. If they don’t, report them to the professional organizations to which they belong. You can also contact your county or state consumer protection agency to report the situation and also file a complaint with the BBB.
If none of this gets the shop moving and the faulty workmanship issues persist, consider pursuing a claim against the repair shop’s insurance company. If you followed the above steps and chose a licensed and reputable shop, they will have an insurance policy which should cover you if they did a shoddy job on your repairs.