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Kitemark plan for repairers

The British Standards Institute is planning to launch a Kitemark for the vehicle repair sector this autumn aimed at boosting consumer confidence.

Under the initiative, franchised and independent workshops which achieve the standard will be supported by a BSI publicity campaign and be permitted to display the Kitemark.

Next month BSI will establish a steering committee with key businesses, including carmakers, franchised and independent workshops and product suppliers. In June, it will begin an industry consultation with dealer groups, fleet operators and consumer bodies such as the Consumers’ Association and the Office of Fair Trading.

The standard is expected to be ready for launch in September, with the first workshops accredited by the end of the year. It will include best practice such as issuing written estimates inclusive of VAT, providing clear invoices, retaining replaced parts for customer inspection and operating a free arbitration service.

“The aim of the standard is to improve the customer experience when vehicle repairs are needed. In addition, the Kitemark will demonstrate to consumers that garages meeting its requirements are up to standard,” says Anne Boyd, managing director of BSI Product Services.

The BSI has been working in partnership with aftermarket consultancy Automotive Advantage and has set the standard’s foundations in Automotive Advantage’s Maxiima programme.

“We believe it will revolutionise the industry. This has to be the definitive standard for garages. The Kitemark is so widely recognised, people trust in it as a logo,” says Chris Hallam of Automotive Advantage. “Standards should not be seen as just a cost implication – it’s an investment.This standard will be one to be strived for, it will be aspirational but achievable.”

Hallam believes that many garages already have business practices in place which will meet the standard. However, those which do not should enjoy an increase in profitability and customer retention as a result of achieving it. “The challenge has always been to lift CSI and profitability together,” he adds.

Kitemark workshops will be audited regularly and can lose the accreditation if they fail to continue with best practice.

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