The total number of workshop bookings has declined by 2.4%, from 35.2 million entries in 2013 to 34.36 million in 2014, according to new research from GIPA released by Castrol Professional.
The GiPA (Groupement inter Professionel de l’Automobile) Drivers Study UK 2015 also suggests general car servicing has now overtaken the MoT as the biggest single factor driving vehicle workshop utilisation.
The data has found that all-round servicing and ongoing maintenance now accounts for 26% of all workshop bookings – to both franchised and independent outlets – representing an increase of 2% over 2013.
In contrast, the number of MoT workshop bookings has dropped, with the annual test of roadworthiness for older vehicles slipping to second place and now accounting for just 21% of bookings – down 4% on 2013. Workshop activity solely for tyre changes is also down 1%, to 21%.
Castrol Professional said fewer visits to the workshop could have a dramatic effect on the bottom line for many franchised dealers, with fewer opportunities to develop a relationship with customers and carry out potentially highly-profitable servicing work.
The company said it believes face-to-face time with workshop customers is now even more precious than ever, and franchised outlets must be proactive in their efforts to build relationships with customers during every visit.
Nigel Head, Castrol head of marketing, UK & Ireland, said: “The research demonstrates the increasing importance of extracting maximum value from every customer contact.
“It’s crucial that dealers identify legitimate extra repair and maintenance work and then use this as the basis for ongoing discourse with the customer.
“The most effective businesses will also be further developing the soft sales skills of their service reception teams, who must explain to the customer the value of any additional work that might be carried out. It’s also necessary to step up ongoing communications to customers to highlight the benefits of manufacturer-trained technicians and of manufacturer-recommended products.”