Already backlogged, auto shops expect snow to bump up business

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As snow begins to fall in West Michigan, Jose Morales says his shop is getting busy. 

“Deer hits really get things going, but as soon as the snow comes, people start sliding into each other,” said the owner of Morales Auto Body and Paint in Grand Rapids. “A lot of accidents, especially on the expressway.”

Increased business this time of the year is normal. What’s unusual is that Morales’ shop is already a couple months behind on jobs. He says the backlog is pandemic-related. 

“As soon as everybody started driving again, going back to work, roads started getting busy and I started seeing more and more car accidents,” Morales said.

Morales says it’s a problem many of his colleagues are facing. 

“Very big issue,” Morales said. “I’ve talked to a lot of shops here in town and they’re backed up three months. We’re backed up about two months. But even the bigger shops, the bigger higher-end shops.”

With more crashes expected because of snow and slick conditions, Morales is asking customers to be patient. 

“Keep in mind that if you do get into an accident, there is a backlog on all the body shops,” he said.

Just like body shops, snowfall can kick off a busy stretch for tire shops. 

“This first snowfall is certainly an event in our business,” Scott Clayton, Belle Tire’s West Michigan director of retail operations, said.

He says customers sometimes wait too long to get their winter tires. 

“The tires are all-season on most cars, a lot of folks have all-wheel drive,” Clayton said. “As they wear down … they’re not going to give you that grip anymore that they used to. When you start getting that rain/snow mix, when we get some accumulation, they’re just not going to be able to evacuate that weather like they have been in past.”

Like Morales, Clayton is asking customers to show some patience as more customers come in to get ready for winter conditions. 

“We want to take care of every customer — and we will,” Clayton said. “But it isn’t always possible to do it immediately, or even within an hour or two. Sometimes we need a little extra time.”

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