The figure, compiled from the 160,000 transactions every month handled through the 1link Service Network e-commerce platform, is believed to be up around 13% on last year.
Ken Trinder, head of business development at epyx, the company behind 1link, says: "This is a definite trend. Where franchise dealers offer good service and value for money, their business appears to be increasing, especially for those now handling multi-marque work.”
The leasing companies that channel their service, maintenance and repair spending through the 1link platform now account for more than two million vehicles in total.
Trinder continued: “Leasing companies have wanted to drop poor franchise dealers for years and two developments have allowed them to start doing so in the last year. The first is block exemption, which is starting to open up the market for vehicle maintenance. The second is technological because 1link allows them to add and remove dealers and independents from their preferred networks in moments.”
Analysis of the 1link statistics shows that the trend is concentrated among mainstream cars where it is perceived that a service history stamped by a multi-marque garage will not have a significant impact on residual values. However, the prestige sector is not insulated from similar developments.
Trinder explained: “We have certainly seen instances where long service booking lead times from prestige franchise dealers have caused them to be passed over in favour of a high quality independent specialist. The service standard is high, the quality of technical expertise is comparable and the actual cost of the work undertaken is sometimes halved.”
An important factor in the development of this trend is that many drivers and leasing company customers are not aware that a franchise dealer is not servicing their car.
Trinder said: “Because of the growth of collection and delivery as part of the customer service standard, a sizeable proportion of drivers do not now visit the dealership. If they call their leasing company to arrange a service and someone turns up at their office to collect it, they do not know where the car is going. As long as the maintenance work is carried out to a high standard, they are happy with the arrangement.”