Citroen has launched a package of repair standards to help its dealer network compete with the dominant independent bodyshop sector.
The scheme, which mirrors programmes by Honda and Ford, will be headed by Citroen aftersales director Arne Willerslec. Industry consultant Auticat Developments will manage and audit the standards, introduced as Citroen enjoys record new car registrations up nearly 59% year-to-date in the UK.
Citroen public affairs director Marc Raven said the programme would improve bodyshop profits by raising standards to satisfy insurers' requirements.
“There has been a trend for work to haemorrhage out of dealer bodyshop networks which has affected most manufacturers,” he said.
“This approach will ensure that insurance companies are happy with the quality of work, centralising accident repairs back into our network, so everyone wins.”
Dealers may need to invest in equipment and premises to meet the standards, which cover health and safety, quality control, repair techniques and training.
“We are confident that all our dealer bodyshops will meet these standards with minimum investment,” said Mr Raven. “There will be no monthly fee to cover the programme – we will fund Auticat's consultancy support.”
The programme will help Citroen dealer bodyshops raise profitability through improved retention at a time when the accident repair industry is suffering from poor margins.
Several high profile independent repairers have collapsed this year as many insurers continue to freeze labour rates while demanding a high level of free services like replacement cars, collection and delivery.
Citroen believes dealer bodyshops will absorb business from independents because of the benefits and peace of mind offered by a one-stop shop service.
“Customers expect Citroen dealers to provide an accident repair scheme because they know they will get the values associated with the Citroen marque,” said Mr Raven.
“The programme gives bodyshops the authority to do the work and enables us to control quality standards.”
The scheme will be supported by Citroen's insurance scheme, underwritten by Direct Line subsidiary Green Flag, which puts the manufacturer in a strong position to steer policyholders to its dealers.
It will be launched in two parts. Phase one, which started this summer, covers the 80 Citroen dealer bodyshops – about 30% of the network.
Independent approved repairers will be included next year under phase two.