Independent automotive aftermarket service providers face an uphill battle as more than one-third of Canadian consumers falsely believe they’ll void their warranty if they bring their vehicle to a independent automotive service provider.
Canada’s independent automotive service providers (ASPs) may be winning with customers for their repair cost and trust, but when there are still significant barriers to winning the hearts and minds of Canada’s reluctant repair and maintenance consumer, says the latest report in the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Consumer Behaviour series “At Your Service: How Do Canadians Select their Automotive Repair Shop”.
But among the details of how consumers rate the various players, which do provide some key insights on where the independent players fail to meet, or at least are seen to be failing to meet, the same standard set by dealerships, is a significant barrier: more than a third of respondents, 36%, believe that if they brought their vehicle to an independent, their warranty would be nullified.
This despite ongoing messaging by industry players to the contrary.
“AIA is we well aware of the issue,” says J.F. Champagne, AIA president. “We continue to provide the Notice to Consumers about the fact that as long as you are following the recommendations from manufacturers it does not void your warranty. We need to continue to educate the shops and they need to have the plaques and they need to continue to provide this information to the consumer.”
Champagne says that AIA members continue to access the messaging, often customizing it to be consistent with their own branding.
This latest research adds to a growing base of information provided by the association. This report is the second time the same issue has been researched, the first was three years ago. AIA’s Champagne says that trends have emerged that can help aftermarket players put actions in place for a changing marketplace.
Across the 10 attributes considered in this study, chains and independent service shops are seen as outperforming dealerships on two key dimensions, notably on price and in terms of being trustworthy.
And both independent automotive service providers (ASPs) and dealerships fare quite evenly when it comes to delivering the vehicle on time.
But the devil in the details for the independent service shop is that they are still seen to be far behind dealerships in terms of how consumers are greeted, treated, and kept informed by service advisors of what needs to happen to their vehicle. Independents are also seen to be significantly behind dealerships in quality of work.
Study participants were presented with an ‘outperformance score’ consisting of a series of 10 attributes. They were asked to use a sliding scale (from 0 to 10) to indicate the extent to which chains and independent service shops outperform dealerships on those attributes or, by selecting the midpoint, they feel they perform equally.
While overall ratings put independent ASPs and dealerships on more or less equal footing—there was effectively a three- way split among those who felt ASPs were better, dealerships were better, or both were the same—warning signs for the independent sector can be found in perceptions of quality of work, quality of parts, technical competence, and cleanliness of the shop.
That last point saw a striking gulf between dealerships and independents; the 50% vs. 9% ranking was the largest gap of all factors.
Who is better at . . . ASPs Dealerships
Value for money 59% 18%
Being trustworthy 36% 25%
Having a helpful service advisor 22% 35%
Delivering on time 20% 26%
Quality work 19% 32%
Customer service 17% 29%
Technical competence 15% 37%
Proactive notifications 15% 47%
Quality parts 11% 40%
Clean shops 9% 50%
“The AIA continues to invest in research, providing factual information to the aftermarket,” says Champagne. “We as an industry are being disrupted, and as people are trying to figure out the next steps, they need to have the information to make informed decisions.
“This is for the benefit for everyone in the aftermarket, but particularly at the ASP level.”