NFDA chairman Mark Squires wants franchised dealers to shout loudly about what they’re good at to help battle persisting negative consumer perceptions over service pricing.
Results from the National Franchised Dealers Association’s Consumer Attitude Survey Spring 2017 (download pdf at the bottom of this article) shows that of those surveyed, 41% believe independent garages represent good value for money compared to just 20% for franchised dealers.
Squires (pictured) said: “We recognise there is a gap between perception and reality on pricing for servicing and it was one of the reasons behind establishing this survey.
“There has been an easy story to play to keep hammering on about the difference in labour rates.
NFDA worked with research partner Public Knowledge to collate the data for the survey. The latest survey polled 1,000 car buyers, statistically weighted from across the UK, who all own a car up to seven years old.
He said: “Part of the problem is that when you put a franchised dealer and an independent side by side, you’re comparing apples with oranges, but in consumer’s minds they do think they’re comparable.
Customers named competitive rates for small repairs and parts replacements as the biggest thing that would convince them to use a franchised dealer for aftersales in the future at 39%, while ‘tell me what they can do’ was the thing that would least convince them at 12%.
Squires welcomed the good scores franchised dealers saw from consumers around being professional (49%), knowledgeable (46%) and offering good customer service (43%). This compares with the perception of independents where only 20% of customers would describe them as professional or 27% as knowledgeable. However, there is only a 5% gap between the perception between franchised dealers and independents on offering good customer service.
According to the survey, customer satisfaction has high across the industry with independent garages scoring the highest at 87%. However, franchised dealerships and non-franchised national chains still score highly for satisfaction at 80% and 72% respectively.
Squires said the consistent debate about more expensive labour rates is also a “massive red herring”.
The NFDA’s data shows that perceptions of franchised dealers changes if a consumer has used one in the past two years, with improvements across all perception areas tracked.
However, ‘good value for money’ is still a stumbling block, only improving from 19% to 21% when comparing those customers that have used a franchised dealer in the last two years, to those that have not.
Data from the survey also hints that there is a further disconnect with what manufacturers and dealers want customers to do and what they actually want.
While manufacturers and dealerships are looking to increase the amount of customers that stay at the dealership for while-you-wait servicing, the NFDA results show this is not something consumers see as convenient.
Just 31% of customers list while-you-wait servicing as convenient for them, even with the majority of modern franchised dealers offering free wifi, coffee and comfortable seating and lounges.
The clear winner for convenience, as would perhaps be expected, is customers want the dealer to work around their schedule, not the other way round, with 71% of customers wanting a service appointment at a time that suits them.