How to Spot a Good Garage

By Wheels.ca Wheels.ca

Apr 12, 2021 3 min. read

Article was updated a year ago

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You're going about the day, simultaneously navigating life and a socially distant trip to the grocery store. Suddenly, the unthinkable happens: a fender-bender suddenly damages your car.

No one is injured – that's the main thing. But now your attention is focused on seeking repairs for the vehicle. This can be an unfamiliar experience for most folks, and a lack of knowledge can compound matters following what was already a stressful event.

Here's the good news: times have changed.

“The collision-repair industry has progressed mightily over the years, moving from alleys and back roads to shiny facilities in big cities,” says Fernand Vartanian, general counsel and head of business development for Onlia, digital provider of insurance. “Even for those folks who are relatively less savvy about cars, collision-repair is not as intimidating a process as one might think.”

To gain better insight, we spoke with Ryan Bruno, President & CEO of CSN Collision Centres – a company that partners with Onlia – that has been in the business for two decades and safely repairs more than 200,000 vehicles a year.

“When it comes to the facility itself it should be clean, modern, and inviting,” says Bruno. “Customers should get the feeling when they arrive that they want to leave their vehicle there.

“With COVID still lingering, current circumstances may not allow it but when it’s safe to do so, asking for a tour of the facility from reception to the shop floor is a good way to establish trust about what goes on when a vehicle is being repaired.”

Amidst the stress of dealing with the collision, one may be tempted to simply send their vehicle to whatever repair shop is recommended by their insurance company. However, consumers do have the freedom of choice. "Insurers make recommendations based on their preferred partnerships, like ours with Onlia. This can save customers time when it comes to making that decision,” says Bruno. However, he also notes, “the customer always has the right to choose where their vehicle is repaired.”

In other words, while a reputable insurance company is likely to be aligned with a trustworthy shop – one with a history of positive customer satisfaction, high quality repairs, and efficient turnaround times – drivers are not bound to that option if they have reason to want their vehicle serviced elsewhere.

After a shop has examined the car, it is important for a customer to be comfortable with the plan to get it back on the road, says Bruno. “The best collision repairers are happy to share the details of the repair with their customers,” he says. “Transparency in the repair process is important and allows the customer to trust their vehicle is in good hands.” The days of dropping one's vehicle off at a repair shop staffed with uncommunicative technicians are squarely in the past. Or they should be.

Many experiences are digital in the COVID-era. Collision repair, despite being an arena unfamiliar to large swaths of Canadians, is no different. Most folks would do extensive online research before shelling out big bucks on a home contractor or landscaper: why not with those who will be responsible for repairing your vehicle after a fender-bender? After all, modern vehicles are packed with advanced driving aids and safety equipment.

This is why the best repair facilities offer continuing education opportunities to their employees about how sensors and other equipment for driver aids like lane keeping and adaptive cruise control can affect how they complete their repairs. Fundamental skills like metalworking and refinishing remain important but the best shops keep up-to-date with developments in technology and know how to approach it before your car is brought in for repair.

Armed with this knowledge and these strategies, vehicle owners should be able to navigate a collision repair process without extra stress, ending up with a vehicle fixed correctly by a group of professionals.