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Slow start to Kitemark programme

The British Standards Institute remains upbeat despite slow take-up for its Kitemark scheme launched to the service and repair sector last September.

Five months on, fewer than 100 applications have reportedly been received by BSI and just three workshops have been Kitemark accredited.

One issue is the number of different codes of practice available to garages, all of which require investment or membership fees. Most of the industry’s individual trade bodies already have or are developing a scheme, some of which are backed by the Office of Fair Trading.

In addition, last year the Institute of the Motor Industry launched the Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme, which promotes accredited technicians in workshops. It already has more than 1,400 people registered at service maintenance, diagnostic and master technician levels, and it expects to increase this to 5,000 this year.

The BSI confirms only three workshops have been awarded Kitemarks but declines to give figures for how many have applied so far.

Its spokesman adds: “It is important to note that the Kitemark licence can only be issued once BSI is satisfied that scheme requirements have been met and conformity of the standard has been established. Businesses seeking successful first time applications will often need to spend time upgrading facilities, training staff and updating their procedures before they invite in our inspectors.”

Consultancy Automotive Advantage, a partner in the BSI’s scheme, has set up a series of workshops to help garages. Thirty companies recently attended a session where they were introduced to the BSI PAS 80 specification and shown how they can implement it using a DIY self-help kit.

BSI remains confident that the Kitemark will succeed. Stephen Roberts, business development manager at BSI Product Services says: “Until we launched the Kitemark scheme last year, there had been 11 failed attempts to raise standards in the automotive sector in the last 30 years.

“We are delighted with the industry’s support for the Kitemark scheme, which we feel reflects the time we spent with industry experts and aftermarket specialists in getting the framework right.

“As a result, garages with integrity can now reap the commercial benefits of the Kitemark through demonstrating to the motoring public their own excellent standards of customer service.”

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