This is a guest post by Ron Haugen who is the owner of Westside Auto Pro’s in Des Moines IA. Named “Best Place for Auto Repair” in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 by the Des Moines Business Record.
You just barely bought your car and it’s already time to think about whether to be loyal to the dealership for your ongoing maintenance and care, or to find a reputable independent repair shop to provide all of your automotive repair and maintenance needs. There are many advantages and disadvantages of either option. However, your local repair shop may just win your heart, and your business.
For starters, they have a depth of knowledge surrounding all types of vehicles and vehicle maintenance or repair situations, not just the particular makes and models currently being sold and serviced by your dealer. When you call and say your car is making a funny noise that sounds sort of like a ‘whirring and clicking’ sound, typically an established independent repair shop can hone in quickly on the potential suspect; possibly saving you money on both diagnostic and long-term repair bills.
It’s a hard truth that many dealership garages are staffed by younger, less experienced mechanics. That’s not meant to be a knock against them. They do have the leverage of the dealership behind them. But typically an independent repair shop owner has years of auto mechanic repairs under their belt; and to boot they frequently started out at a dealership to get their certifications and experience before branching out on their own to have the American dream and become their own boss.
Your local repair shop probably has the corner on providing its clients with personal, individualized service. They know your spouse’s name, your children’s names and where they go to school, what your dream car is, how long you’ve had your current car, what your last car was, why you sold it, what other cars you own and what your favorite snack is out of the vending machine! Now none of that is necessarily solely a good enough reason to give your business to the local guy, but in today’s fast-paced world there is a slowly simmering trend towards moving back to personalized service with an extra touch.
When you need a little leeway, like the shop staying open a little later so you can get there in time to pick up or drop off your vehicle, your independent shop is more likely to care, and they are also easier to get a hold of a live person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a technology geek. I love to point and click and buy or research all day long. But when I need to talk to a person, my biggest pet-peeve is getting routed through the dreaded phone menu tree.
When it comes right down to it, whether you take your car to the dealership or to a local independent repair shop for your ongoing maintenance and repair needs is entirely a personal decision. However, one key factor that we haven’t touched on yet is that typically an independent guy is going to cost you less than the dealer. There’s also the added benefit of possibly being able to barter for services, and it’s hard to put a cap on that price savings during the entire life of your car. Look around in your area and see if there are any independent repair shops in the neighborhood. If there are, ask around, look online for reviews, go down there and introduce yourself. You may just find that you and your car are right where you belong.