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Guest opinion: how finance can be a vital tool in solving the duty of care conundrum

Jack Allman

Research from the likes of Kwik Fit and Evans Halshaw highlight the extent to which motorists are avoiding essential car maintenance and instead choosing to drive vehicles in an unroadworthy state when repair costs exceed their financial limits.

There is likely to be concern from many dealers as to the implications this has on their ability to provide a duty of care through aftersales services.

More than 1.2 million UK motorists have admitted to knowingly driving cars that are not fit for the road. A large proportion of owners have even chosen the ‘cheap fix’ route of DIY repairs, despite a third then admitting they were concerned with the quality of work carried out.

Many motorists fail to realise that, as well as being dangerous, driving an unroadworthy vehicle is actually a criminal offence.

A faulty exhaust system, faulty brakes, worn-out tyres, damaged seatbelts or even cracked wing mirrors could all result in a fine of up to £3,000 and three points on a licence.

In some cases, motorists could even find themselves on a ‘careless driving’ charge.

Of course, driving a vehicle that is unroadworthy can have far more dire consequences, posing a serious risk to the lives of the driver, other motorists, passengers and pedestrians.

In the light of these figures it could be argued that dealers are failing to deliver a duty of care to customers.

However, it is difficult to see what more they can do when it is  customer’s personal finance limits that are being cited as the reason for refusing work or staying away from the dealership altogether.

Introducing finance solutions to the aftersales market, however, may be one option for dealers when it comes to encouraging cash-strapped motorists to carry out essential work.

It’s well documented how the availability of dealer sourced finance has revolutionised the car sales side of the industry.

While sales have boomed as a result, a similar approach in service departments, for what would be smaller and more manageable loan amounts, would not only open up increased revenue opportunities for dealerships, it would serve as a means of ensuring drivers were able to have reliable work carried out in a flexible and convenient way.

With franchised dealerships facing ever increasing pressure from the rapid fit sector, offering flexibility and a clear duty of care is key to remaining competitive.

Author: Jack Allman (pictured), chief executive of Auto Service Finance

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