Since fewer consumers are buying new vehicles these days, they’re being forced to maintain their aging cars and trucks. Independent repair shops and auto repair chains compete fiercely with auto dealer service centers for this business. Understanding consumer perception and addressing the right questions in ad campaigns could make the difference when it comes to attracting more business.
For example, consumers have the following beliefs about which type of business provides the highest quality service work on autos:
- Independent local shops 46%
- Dealerships 40%
- Chair repair centers 14%
And consumers also have strong opinions about the cost of auto repairs. They believe overcharging occurs as follows:
- Dealerships 66%
- Chain repair centers 18%
- Independent local shops 16%
A DriverSide poll indicates that “[b]y a two-to-one margin, local shops beat out dealers in having better ongoing relationships with customers.” Dealerships face an additional challenge. R.L. Polk & Co.'s analysts point out that consumers who feel they’ve been overcharged at a dealership’s service department are less likely to purchase another car there. Lonnie Miller, Polk’s director-industry analysis says, "[e]very additional $250 on a bill reduces customer loyalty by 0.15%."
To improve business prospects, analysts expect to see dealers use more aggressive marketing tactics for their service departments. Strategies could range from social media to personalized e‑mail campaigns to video and banners placed on online sites. The increased competition, especially during the upcoming winter season, means more auto service centers may be increasing their marketing efforts.[Source: Finlay, Steve, Repair Shops Grab for Dealership Business, WardsAuto.com, 11.24.09]