The Independent Garage Association (IGA) has published its latest report into consumer facing websites that provide work to independent garages.
The number of online portals that offer consumers the change to ‘compare’ quotes when servicing or repairs are required have grown in recent years, copying a trend seen in the insurance and utilities markets.
The 2019 Garage Work Provider Reportbuilds on the detail established in the 2018 report and features significantly more feedback and testimonials from independent garages. It investigates the wide variety of business models, fees and terms and conditions that consumer work provision websites use, and the comparisons within the report will prove to be invaluable for any independent garage considering whether to work with any of these types of businesses.
Stuart James, IGA CEO comments, “One of the major strengths of independent garages is their ability to provide a far more personal experience for the customer, building a relationship that often spans several generations of customers. These third-party disruptors have a significant detrimental impact on the sector by placing themselves between the customer and the garage, ‘skimming’ a fee from either the garage, the customer or both, with the potential to damage the brand identity of the garage. We consider it our responsibility to our members and the sector as a whole to ensure that garages are given the right information before they decide whether to engage or not with these third-party organisations.
“The IGA firmly believes independent garage businesses should continue to engage directly with customers and promote their own brand and image.”
The report found that the majority of work providers reviewed failed to provide any details of what checks, if any, they carried out on a garage before adding them to the website. Some of the providers accept mobile mechanics as garages.
The IGA believes only garage schemes that have been approved by the Charted Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) under the Consumer Code Approval Scheme (CCAS) can genuinely claim to be “Approved”.
As well as general findings from the organisation’s investigations, the report includes comments from members who have either been involved or approached by the various websites to highlight any issues they faced.
The IGA also warns garages to be wary of those providers who take payment from the customer directly, rather than allowing them to pay the workshop. “With this model the consumer is far more likely to view the transaction as being with the work provider rather than with the garage mainly due to the fact most garage visibility is hidden away, however any liability for work carried out will remain with the garage,” it highlights
While web presence is championed by many businesses in today’s society, many work provider websites do little to promote the businesses they work with, only giving customers the details when the workshop responds to quotes. Pitching one garage against another simply speeds up the ‘race to the bottom’ when it comes to pricing. The report finds that many work providers don’t offer exclusivity in an area, meaning garages compete against each other. Over time, in order to make a return on the investment, some may feel that they need to offer rock bottom prices in order to entice consumers in.