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Independent garages ride high over franchised dealers

by Hugh Wilson | 25 Jul 2016

Independent garages inspire more loyalty in customers than main dealer rivals, according to the latest Castrol Professional Car Servicing and Repair Trend Tracker.

Trend Tracker researchers asked thousands of motorists for details about their last service or repair, and found that customer retention is strongest in the independent sector.

Quite simply a higher percentage of customers return to independent garages again and again when compared to franchised workshops, suggesting a more positive experience in the independent aftermarket.

Last October the same study predicted that independent workshop numbers would increase by 5% in the coming years while the number of their franchised counterparts would decline by 10%.

Taken together the results represent a stunning vote of confidence in the independent sector.

“These results come as no surprise to anyone working in a buoyant independent sector,” says Maria McCullough, manager of trusted national networks AutoCare and Approved Garages.

“Our networks had a 99% customer approval rating at last count, so we know how hard our members work to give customers a positive experience. That’s why motorists come back to our networks again and again.”

The new study is not the first to suggest customers prefer the service they receive at independent garages. Research last year by automotive software supplier GForces found that over half of the 2000 drivers polled used independent garages, while a much smaller number (34.1%) used main dealers for aftermarket work.

The Castrol Professional Car Servicing and Repair Trend Tracker does sound a note of caution for the garage sector as a whole.

A record number of new car registrations since 2012 is bringing the average age of British vehicles down. That is leading to a reduction in the number of cars needing retail repairs between scheduled services, the study suggests.

“New cars tend to need fewer traditional repairs,” agrees Maria. “But there will always be plenty of work out there for good independent workshops which stay bang up to date with changes in the industry.

“For instance, we know that hybrid cars will become increasingly common over the next few years, and the good news is that well over 500 of our technicians have gained qualifications that allow them to work on hybrid engines since 2012. In fact, AutoCare is leading the way when it comes to repairing and servicing hybrid vehicles.”

GROUPAUTO, parent company of AutoCare and Approved Garages, is one of the largest suppliers of training to garage professionals in the UK.

Find out how AutoCare is leading the way in hybrid technology

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