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UK retention levels surveyed

With a score of 44%, Honda has achieved the highest level of dealer retention for aftersales in the UK car service and repair market.

Toyota is the second highest placed franchise in terms of dealer aftersales retention with 29% of all services, MoTs and repair jobs being carried out at a Toyota dealership.

According to the Castrol Business Services Car Repair Trend Tracker, the overall-average aftersales retention rate for all franchises is 23%, with the volume manufacturers faring worst.

Ford came in second last with 19.5%, Renault has 21%, Vauxhall has 21.4%, while Saab and Volvo both have 22.7%.

“The reasons for Honda’s significantly higher after-sales retention within its own dealer network can be attributed to several factors,” states the report. “The marque tends to have an older and more affluent customer profile and these types of customers tend to be more loyal to dealer networks when it comes to servicing, MoTs and repairs.”

Honda has a 200-strong dealer network in place and Brian Jameson, corporate aftersales manager, believes its high dealer aftersales retention is all down to the success of the Honda Happiness programme.

“Our dealer network provides customers with a very high first-time fix rate, a fair, fixed price for service and repairs together with a general good quality of work. We’ve also got a good geographic spread.”

Looking at those manufacturers nearer the bottom of the table, the report warns: “With new car sales having fallen sharply since 1994 and with aftersales delivering on average nearly a third of total dealership profitability, it is important that dealers achieve higher levels of aftersales retention to maintain and increase overall levels of profitability.”

Robert McNab, director of published research at Trend Tracker, says: “These manufacturers have the largest number of vehicles on the road, this means a lot of their customers have older cars and so naturally they will have a lower dealer retention rate for aftersales.

“Motorists who own these cars also tend to be more economically minded and so tend to go to what is perceived as the cheapest outlet to have their car serviced.”

The report also reveals that franchised dealers are beginning to lose their market share in the under four-year car age segment to independent garages. In 2003/04, less than 18% of these repairs were carried out by independent dealers, rising to 21% in 2005/06.

Franchised dealers currently have a 65% share, compared to 67% in 2003/04, with the report saying that many are simply resorting to increasing their labour charge-out rates to maintain profitability in face of longer service intervals, rather than working harder at increasing aftersales retention.

Fast-fit outlets are also beginning to grab a larger share of the under four-year service and repair segment, with 6.3% using them compared to 4.9% in 2003/04.

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