Independent Garages on the rise

By: Gorse Motors Ltd  07/11/2011
Keywords: mot testing


Cash-strapped motorists fed up with overpriced servicing are deserting main dealers and getting their cars fixed at cheaper independent garages and nationwide chains expanding from their traditional tyres and exhaust fitting into general servicing and MOTs.

A story on today reveals that franchised main dealers account for just a quarter of servicing, while independent garages and so-called ‘fast-fit’ chains make up nearly half of the market.

10 years ago they accounted for just a third of all servicing business, the change in so-called ‘block exemption’ rules that mean warranty approved work can be carried out outside of the dealer network meaning drivers can shop around more than before.

For newer cars and owners keen to maximise resale value a main dealer stamp in the service book is still a valuable asset come trade-in or sale time. But for many drivers the prices charged – over £100 per hour in some cases – are just too high.

The Car Works in the Hertfordshire town of Berkhamsted is typical of a growing network of independents thriving in the new, cost conscious atmosphere. Opened two years ago business is booming and he now has five full-time mechanics.

“It’s all word of mouth too,” says owner John O’Sullivan. “We don’t do any advertising – everyone that works here is local and we just survive on personal recommendations. We’ve had no quiet days since we opened.”

So why are people deserting main dealers? “It’s the costs, the hourly rates and the lack of personal service,” says John. “You go to the front desk of a main dealer and you can’t talk to the mechanics directly either.”

Fixed price servicing packages like the Mini TLC programme and other incentives are part of the main dealer fightback but ultimately consumers are the winners as competition for business forces prices down.

Keywords: mot testing