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Franchised workshops still losing servicing work to independents

Franchised workshops captured 25.4% of servicing work in the first 10 months of 2011, a 1% drop in comparison to the same period last year and echoing falls in market share since 2007.

Independents and fast-fits now account for 45.7% of servicing work, up from 42.1% in 2010.

New data from the Castrol Professional Car Service and Repair Trend Tracker report shows that a decade ago the independent garage share of servicing was just 30.2%.

Chris Oakham, Trend Tracker analyst, said: “Independent workshops now hold as great a share of the market as franchised dealerships did 15 years ago, and the growing influence of the independents is showing no signs of letting up.

“Almost a third of servicing on cars between three and four years old goes to independent providers, and, with an ageing car parc as a result of poor new car sales since 2008, the decline in customer retention among franchised workshops could accelerate.”

Nigel Head, Castrol Professional OEM and franchised workshop marketing manager – UK & Ireland, said: “While franchised dealers have seen another drop in custom, the decline is far from terminal. It’s down to dealers to reinvigorate their aftersales offer, and provide customers with an incentive to return for servicing work.

“National fast-fit chains and the independent sector are becoming more professional as they expand and are aggressively targeting franchised dealer customers – it’s time for dealers to fight back if they are to hold on to increasingly value-conscious customers.

“There is little scope for service pricing reductions, but that isn’t to say that dealerships can’t adopt other proactive strategies.

“Dealers could consider offering courtesy transport, fixed price servicing for older cars, or even using more transparent invoicing to increase customer trust. These are all ways in which franchised dealers can fight to retain customers and remind them of the service the workshop can offer over and above the competition.”

Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, said: "Franchised dealers are fully aware of the issues surrounding workshop servicing retention and are already working to address this with a number of proactive strategies.

"Franchised dealers are working hard to stay competitive within an ever changing market. They are already adopting new approaches to retain their customer base. However dealers need to explore even more ways to retain value-conscious customers.

“In the current economic climate consumers are reducing spending more than ever and are always looking for the best prices. Franchise dealers are fully aware of the price comparisons made by consumers and many dealers are now offering a ‘price match’ within their region. It is extremely important the consumer looks at a ‘like for like’ service schedule when making any such price comparison.

"Franchised dealers are committed to offering specialist in-depth and up to date brand knowledge to ensure the service they offer is at the highest possible level. They continue to invest in equipment, facilities and staff training.”

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