1 September 2005

The Do's and Don’ts of Restoration Relationships

If you walk into a restoration shop and meet someone you simply don’t like or don’t trust, you should take your car somewhere else. That particular restorer or shop may be truly talented, but if there is instant antipathy, the restoration process is bound to be difficult for all involved.

When embarking on a major restoration, always determine responsibilities and expectations upfront and in writing. Many shops have restoration contracts that detail exactly what work will be performed and at what rate. Other shops will simply give you a work order with an estimate, while others work strictly on a time and material basis. A surprising number of shops just start work and expect you to pay the bills.

Regardless of the shop’s usual policy, put it in writing. List the work you want performed, who will supply parts and a time frame for completion. Be sure the document clearly states the payment policy. Is a deposit required, how often will you be billed, and how quickly must those invoices be settled? You’ll also want to know in advance how often you’ll be informed of progress.

Remember that you have responsibilities as well. Bills need to be paid on time and you have to be sure that any parts or information you promise arrive promptly. If you’ve been given an estimate, remember that it’s only an approximation of the cost of a project. Unforeseen damage or changing requirements will drive the cost up, and you need to be prepared to pay for that additional work.

Most shops like advance notice when you plan on visiting. If you drop by every day or two, you’ll probably disrupt the work. However, if you arrange to come by every two or four weeks, the shop owner or manager is unlikely to object. Limit your calls to the shop too. If you call more than once or twice a week, you’ll slow progress and may become a nuisance.

As a rule, you should save all correspondence and invoices that pass between you and the restoration facility. If there is a problem or concern, document it. If the correspondence takes the form of e-mail, print it out or save it to your hard drive. Should a problem end up in arbitration or court, you need to make sure you’re protected. IF a problem does pop up between you and the shop, be sure to address it promptly and respectfully to make sure it never becomes personal.

Any good shop will listen to your concerns and work with you to resolve problem. In the end, the restoration will take longer and cost more than anticipated – that’s just the way restorations are. However, the chances are that you’ll be delighted with the outcome and still be on good terms with the restorer years after your car rolled out of the shop.

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