How to Find a Tuner Shop for Your Mustang

Is Your Mustang in Good Hands?

A Mustang being modified at Galpin Auto Sports. Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas

If you’re like me, you like to personalize your ride. Although some people find a bone stock ride to be more than adequate, others want a customized look and feel that’s all their own. That said, there are several ways in which you can go about modifying your Mustang.

If you’re up for it, you can do the work yourself, in your spare time, in your garage, and on your own terms. I’ll admit; many jobs can be completed at home without the help of a professional.

What about the more challenging jobs? You know, the ones that require a lift or extensive knowledge of the product being installed? When tackling this kind of job, or any job you don’t feel completely comfortable completing on your own, you should contact a professional. But how do you find someone you can trust?

 

It "Hurts" to be Uninformed

The unfortunate truth is that many scam artists prey on the uninformed customer. I’ve known many people who have gone to a shop, only to walk away with an improperly installed product or a poorly completed modification job. When they return to complain, they find that the shop has either closed its doors or is unwilling to listen to their complaint. This is not only bad customer service; in some cases it can be criminal in nature. Fly by night shops are nothing new. Businesses open and close their doors all the time. That’s why it pays to educate yourself before you leave your valued ride in the hands of a stranger.

Ask a Friend

There are several ways in which you can find a quality custom shop. One way is word of mouth. Many businesses fail to understand this concept, but all it takes is one unhappy customer to ruin a good business. If you’ve heard good things about a particular shop, you might want to consider doing business with them.

However, if you’ve heard bad things about a shop, it makes common sense to stay away.

Some of the best shops I’ve ever done business with were recommended by trusted friends. Some of the worst shops I’ve ever been to were businesses I selected out of the phone book simply because they had a sharp looking advertisement or a catchy looking commercial. Often a referral from a friend or trusted colleague is the best way to find a custom shop. When you visit the shop for the first time, let them know your friend recommended their services. If they’ve done business with your friend over the years, they will likely work to treat you with the same quality of service. Reason being, if you leave an unhappy customer, it’s likely your friend will change their views of the shop as well. Better yet, bring your friend along and have them introduce you and show you around. This “association” demonstrates both customer loyalty to the shop, and the need to please both you and your friend.

Often times you might not have friends that have completed custom work on their car. So how do you find someone who is good? Well, one place to check is online via social media and message boards. Local Mustang car clubs are another great resource.

Start up a conversation and ask around to see if anyone has had a good experience in your local area. Also pay attention to stories of customers who were treated poorly or custom jobs that were not properly completed.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve found a shop, it pays to run a Google search on the shop to see if any comments or customer reviews pop up. As you might imagine, customers with complaints can be very vocal. If a customer was burnt by a particular shop, chances are they wrote about it somewhere on the net. On the other hand, you might also find customers talking about the great service provided at a shop.

Another place that you must check is the Better Business Bureau’s website (www.bbb.org). Simply enter your zip code, and this site will put you in touch with your local bureau. Type the shop’s name into the BBB system to see a list of results and ratings for the business.

In general, the organization ranks businesses from AAA (best) to F (worst). The system will often list when the business was started. Best of all, you can read reviews from customers who have filed complaints. You can also see how these complaints were resolved by the company. I can’t stress the importance of checking out a shop’s rating with the BBB.

Know the Product

On occasion, a customer will ask a shop to install a product on their Mustang, only to find after the install it’s not what they wanted. Then they place the blame on the shop for not explaining the product to them. As a consumer, it’s your job to make sure you know the product that will be installed on your Mustang. Do your research before you pay to have the product installed. Ask as many questions as you can about the product. Contact the manufacturer. Ask other Mustang enthusiasts what they think of the product. If you can, find another Mustang owner with the product on their car and check it out in person. Remember, it’s the shops job to install the product. It’s your job to know what they are installing.

 

Before the Install

So, you’ve selected a product you like and you've enlisted a shop to install if for you. If you’ve done your homework, you know quite a bit about the product being installed. Before the install, make sure to:

  • Get a written estimate of the work (labor) being completed
  • Obtain a detailed invoice of the parts being installed and the prices for each
  • Let the shop know if you want replaced parts returned to you after the install
  • Ask any final questions you might have

Most legitimate shops will be happy to assist you with these items. If a shop won’t tell you what labor will cost up front, something is wrong. Go somewhere else. The same goes for invoicing. If a shop doesn’t give customers invoices, something is wrong. Once again, look elsewhere.

Spread the Word

If more customers were vocal in their business dealings with shops, it would make things easier for new customers who know nothing about the business. If you have a problem with a shop, notify the owner as soon as possible. If they can not resolve the issue, contact the Better Business Bureau. Most importantly, let others know about the service you received. Tell your friends and family. Spread the word. Power is in the numbers. If you have something to say, good or bad, tell as many people possible. It pays to be vocal. You might save someone else money later on down the road