Automotive Blog

Listen to the aftersales customer – value is key

CGs Blog Correct

Players in the aftersales world all face the same problems, however some are keener to throw stones into their competitors back gardens than tend to their own…

We – the customer – delay booking service and repair, it is always an unwelcome bill arriving at an inconvenient financial time.  What’s more there is no visual gain from it, just a smaller bank balance.  Possibly a smoother more reliable journey, but not the same excitement one gets from purchasing an article of clothing, or going out for a meal. Some may argue that having new tyres or brake pads gives us (the customer) security as we know that our journey will be safe whilst also preserving the residual value of the vehicle.

Customer loyalty has always been an issue for aftersales providers, but the situation has worsened over the last decade:

  • Vehicle reliability has increased ten-fold and service intervals become longer. We now have a "no worries - no cost" attitude, a feeling reinforced by TV ads.
  • Due to the complexity of the modern car (electronics etc) an increasing number of "invisible" jobs are carried out on each visit. Highly skilled technicians are therefore required, the workshop has to be appropriately equipped and the parts themselves are more expensive. All these ingredients result in a hefty invoice.
  • As a result of the economic climate, everyone is trying to save pennies and cut corners, and therefore servicing and repair is often postponed until it becomes critical.  Cars are being kept longer and/or more second hand cars are being purchased – this scenario should typically generate more work for the market
  • Households which can still afford to protect the residual value of their vehicle via servicing are also naturally those who will purchase new or nearly new cars. The share of these customers is decreasing as is the need for repair or service due to better reliability

Aftermarket volume is becoming more and more driven by a greater share of customers who are not prepared or able to shoulder the cost of maintenance and repair. This is a real stumbling block for the industry.

Most operators fuel this trend by defying customers to try to find a cheaper offer elsewhere:  “What the customer usually pays is excessive, he is fooled by competitors”.  Many operators bolstered with access to hefty marketing budgets, promote loss-leader deals in the hope of attracting the customer and ensuring he returns next time when they will hopefully be able to entice him into purchasing a more expensive service/part.

However contrarily, standalone independent repairers are currently experiencing a growth in market share as they follow (maybe involuntarily) a more constant and trusted strategy together with better personal communication with the customer. They do not proclaim to be the cheapest but promise the most customised solution by taking into account the age and condition of the vehicle, the budget or driving pattern of the customer etc.  These independent garages gain the trust of the customer – this is vital to keep him loyal in the longer term.

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