Around 65% of the bodyshops in the manufacturer’s 150-strong approved repairer network are owned and operated by franchised dealers.
Seven years ago there were only 50 bodyshops with BMW-approved facilities, which prompted the manufacturer to start a sub-contracting programme, under which its franchised dealers work with a repair partner.
“Many of our dealers are investing in their own bodyshops,” says Harvey. “They’ve seen that it can be profitable; when redeveloping their sites they are looking at building a bodyshop within their aftersales facility. And we’re not alone, there are several other manufacturers that are encouraging the same thing.”
Harvey says the BMW-approved network has to gear up for increasing capacity, in line with its growing car parc.
Many prestige car manufacturers and dealers now recognize the value of keeping customers within their branded repair schemes, and have launched accident assistance phone lines as the customer’s first point of call.
Malcolm Bevan, consultant and former director of Swindon bodyshop Bampton Bros, encourages independent bodyshops to seek a repair partnership agreement with local franchised dealers, and says there’s evidence that some independents are steering clear of insurer contracts in favour of manufacturer approvals.