So your looking for a shop to build or restore your ride. You have a lot to look at to get the correct one. The right match for you and the people doing the work.
First lets look at payment for the work. If the shop wants money up front walk away from it. If you want some large items purchased at the beginning of the project expect to pay for that, but never for labor or small items. I expect to get paid for parts and labor every two weeks. I bill weekly with as much transparency as I can. You should expect any good shop to do something similar.
Shop appearance a fancy shop means little in quality work. A well used shop is going to look well used. A clean shop is important although it may not be all that clean during certain points of the build. My thoughts here are no fire hazards, gas cans, oily rags, full garbage cans, clutter, you get the idea. Also anything in the shop that could fall and hit your vehicle.
Tools are by preferance only. Just because there is a fancy Snap On box doesnt make a great car builder. Quality in large items like air compressors is important along with paint guns, and power tools. I am no fan of the big box Chinese tools. Other wise I think it is the person using the tools choice of tools.
Look at how many projects they do at once. A shop full of employees can do a few at once but so many shops start on one after another. The problem with that is everything gets lost. Lost parts, lost interest, lost paper work, lost customers. When I started this business my goal was one at a time. This keeps focus and the customers who are waiting appreciate that when it is their turn it truly is their turn.
Look at the past work done by the shop quality. If they are good they will have pictures of every step of a build. I use this blog so that my customers can see me do everything. This keeps me on the straight and narrow as well. I can not short cut something because it will show up on these pages.
There are a lot of great shops and an equal number of crappy ones. If the project starts to go south do not hesitate to find someone else. I will discuss the relationship needed between you and the shop in an other blog.