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Bosch hits 400 outlets

The Bosch Car Services (BCS) network of independent garages has grown by 100 since the Office of Fair Trading fully approved its code of practice a year ago.

It is now holding steady at 400 centres, according to Howard Price, Bosch technical services manager.

Bosch led the way when it launched its Code of Practice, which gained stage one approval from the OFT two years ago.

It’s a model of success that the Car Service and Repair Code, administered by the SMMT and finally launched to the industry in May, hopes to follow.

All BCS garages comply with the code of practice.

This requires them to provide clear, pre-contractual information and a written estimate including the cost of parts and labour, cancellation rights exceeding those available in law, guarantees on the work carried out (parts and labour) and protection of any prepayments if a BCS member ceases to trade.

In addition, BCS members must not recommend or carry out work that is unnecessary.

Price said: “Our industry hasn’t got the best of reputations, so a gold standard like this has reinforced exactly what we’re all about.

“People from across the network appreciate that everyone is working to the same standard. It has also allowed individual businesses to pitch for new business.”

When the code of practice gained stage one approval from the OFT, one garage couldn’t see the value in it and was ejected from the network.

Price added: “Apart from that one instance we’ve had no resistance from the members of our network.

“A lot of these businesses are family owned and their garage is like their baby – it’s their name over the door. So improving their business with the code of practice shows that they’re not standing still.”

Each BCS garage gets an annual review and independent mystery shops to check it’s operating within the standards of the code. A report is then sent to Bosch for review.

“If there are some problems with procedures we’ll try and build the garage up with training and tutorials,” said Price.

“If those problems couldn’t be resolved then we would have to terminate that garage from the network, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Bosch must submit a detailed report to the OFT every year.

Price said: “The OFT approval isn’t a rubber stamp. We have to demonstrate our competence and it’s not easy, but I wouldn’t want it to be.

“The fact that it’s hard to gain full approval is a testament to the quality of the network.”

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