Finding a good panel beater isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

The auto repair industry in Australia is full of shady operators who’ll either perform a lacklustre service or rip you off outright. But that’s not to say all panel beaters are dodgy. There are still a number of honest and hardworking businesses out there who pride themselves on a job well done.

So how exactly can you find this proverbial needle in a haystack? Let’s take a closer look.

Assess their reputation

Reputation is everything in the automotive repair industry, and a reputable operator will go to great lengths to always put their best foot forward. The most effective way to assess reputation is to ask around in your social network. Find out whether your friends, family, or colleagues have had panel beating work done recently, and ask if they were happy with the result.

Another option is to check online reviews on websites such as Google Maps and Facebook. However, online reviews aren’t ideal because rival outfits may post fake views to drive more business to their company. In addition, consider that some customers are just impossible to please. Nevertheless, a company rate 4/5 or more with consistently good reviews is likely to be reputable.

Find out about their guarantees

A reputable panel beater will always back up their workmanship with a strong guarantee. Although warrantee conditions may vary, consider that the longer the terms, the more confident a panel beater is in their work.

If you can find a suitable company with a lifetime guarantee, then you pretty much know you’re on to a winner.

Assess their customer service

Customer service is paramount to the success of any small business in Australia. A quality auto repair company will retain in an experienced and professional customer service team because they know how important these people are to their bottom line.

While researching a reliable panel beating in your area, make a mental note of any interactions who may have with a company’s customer service team, whether it be in person, by email, or over the phone. If they respond quickly with useful information, then you’re likely dealing with a professional outfit. If they take too long to get back to you and are abrupt or unhelpful, then they’ll likely act the same during the panel beating process as well.

Look at their specializations

If you’ve got a luxury, vintage, or rare automobile, then you can’t just take it to any old panel beater. These vehicles require the tender love and care of a prestige panel beater who has ample experience in your particular make and model. Otherwise, you’ll end up with substandard job that could even cause permanent damage to your precious automobile.

Specialist repairers are also likely to be the only people who have access to the parts they need to get the job done. Look for a company markets themselves as a prestige panel beater is you have a luxury vehicle. Be sure to ask plenty of questions about their experience working on cars that are the same or similar to your own.

Check out their workplace

If possible, take a sneak peek through the office door to assess the workplace in action (or ask for a guided tour). Does it appear well organised and efficient? Is the equipment in modern?

It may be difficult for the untrained eye to make an accurate assessment of a panel beating workplace, but you’ll at least be able to get some idea whether the company is any good.

Ask about their experience and accreditations

Companies who’ve withstood the test of time are probably worthy of your business. Although there’s no hard and fast rule, anyone with decades of experience is going to be a pretty safe bet. Likewise, the more certifications and qualifications a panel beater has with well-known automotive agencies, the better that company is likely to be.

Find out if you’ll get a courtesy car

The last thing you want to deal with when your car is being repaired is the uninspiring public transport system. The best companies know this, and will provide a courtesy car from their own private fleet or from a partner business.

For all of your car repair needs, contact the professionals at Brighton Panel Works, a trusted body repairer for over 50 years servicing Melbourne’s inner city and the bayside precincts.