Archive | November, 2012



Motor Codes has released the results of its new report into consumer satisfaction in the UK motor industry.

Bringing together the results of 25,000 motorists surveyed by the group, the results show growing levels of customer service and a positive outlook for the trade.

Independents came out very well in the study, with the sector scoring a satisfaction rating of 98 percent compared to 93 percent for manufacturer servicing outlets for the quality of the service or repair. Meanwhile franchised dealers scored 96 percent in the report.

When asked about customer service independents and manufacturer authorised repairers scored 98 percent and 91 percent respectively. Motor Codes says the score for independents has remained consistent over the past four years. However the satisfaction rating for main dealers has grown consistently over the years.

Across the whole service and repair sector both quality and customer service appear to be improving, Motor Codes’ results show that just two percent of customers said they needed to complain to a garage about the work done on their vehicles in 2012, compared to nine percent in 2009.

In its conclusions Motor Codes says: “The vast majority of consumers are receiving a high quality of service from garages and new car dealers committed to Motor Codes.

In the service and repair sector, there has been a marked improvement in the past four years, underlining the positive impact of the Service and Repair Code.”

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An open letter to aftermarket product managers

Chris Small

Chris Small

In a guest appearance on the CAT Council, Chris Small challenges the convenience of online catalogues.

A couple months ago I wrote a piece for CAT about a chap called Henry Leland and his engineering vision and passion for accuracy. His ideas moved car maintenance out of the blacksmiths and into independent workshops. That was 100 years ago, but we still rely on Leland’s idea of interchangeable parts to this day.

As a motor factor, the basic principle of cataloguing car parts is what our entire operation is based on. Without this life-line we would be back at the blacksmith, but these days the big thick books full of part numbers are gradually becoming a thing of the past. The advent of online and electronic catalogues has vastly improved accessibility to information and indeed we have come a long way; or have we?

One of the problems with paper catalogues is that they are pretty much out of date as soon as they’ve come off the printing presses. New components are being released all the time, so the writers of the catalogues often have to predict which parts will soon become available to try and extend the life of the publication.

Beauty of E-catalogues?

The beauty of electronic online catalogues is information can be added in real-time and updated with relative ease, but there is still a problem. Many manufactures still insist on adding part numbers to online catalogues that they are unable to supply. I understand that reference numbers need to be created to identify new parts that will be added at a later date, but there is no need to publish these numbers, complete with prices, until the part is physically available.

Accuracy is key

I’m not talking about running out of stock, that happens to the best of us, I’m talking about not having it because it doesn’t actually exist in their range. Not all suppliers are guilty, but many are, and we all lose out – the factor loses faith in the supplier, while the garage loses confidence in the factor and the brand it is promoting. All because someone decided to publish a part number for an item that doesn’t exist.

If you really want to release new part numbers that aren’t actually available, just don’t give a price, so we could assume we can’t have it yet.

Get listings right

I phoned a very well-known supplier last week to enquire about a set of brake pads that were listed on its online catalogue but not available. “We’ve been trying to find a source for these pads since 2008,” they told me. In fact, they catalogued it in 2008 and have never had a source for them. This kind of misleading practice just makes us all look like idiots, and it needs to stop. Please.

We have enough of a struggle on our hands at the moment with the economic climate being like it is, so we could really do without more problems created by the people who are supposed to be supporting us.

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Car clocking could cost customers up to £580 million per year

Car clocking could cost customers up to £580 million per year

A mileage correction operator in Swindon has been jailed for nine months for car clocking.

Colin Michael Ogle, who ran a mileage correction service in the town, has become the first such purveyor to be convicted under consumer law.

The conviction follows the results of an OFT investigation into the used car market in 2010, which estimated the potential loss to consumers of buying cars with false mileages could be up to £580 million per year.

As part of its investigation the OFT said that legitimate reasons for mileage adjustment were extremely rare, and, at the time of its study, there were over 50 websites advertising mileage correction services.

Vehicle checking firm HPI has called on parliament to help shut down such firms operating in the UK. The company has launched an e-petition and has asked the public to support its fight against mileage correction firms.

Consumer Services Manager for HPI Nicola Johnson said: “It is fantastic to see decisive action against the owners of these firms, who until now have acted without seeing any consequences, all the while costing used car buyers thousands. But we still need more action and this where we need you, the public, to get behind us and make your voice heard. We cannot stamp out these companies on our own, and remove what would appear to be a legitimate form of fraud trading within the UK.”

Roger Powell, Divisional Head at CDL Vehicle Information Services, which owns vehicle checking says the problem of clocking is rife: “A member of our Glasgow call centre team recently dealt with an enquiry concerning an extreme case of clocking. The customer suspected that the mileage had been altered and he was actually not too surprised when we told him that, according to the last recorded figure, it had been wound back by around 100,000 miles. It turned out that for several years the car had been a taxi.

“Worse still, the customer had already purchased the vehicle. Such calls are always difficult because we prefer to prevent people from making an expensive used car mistake rather than confirming their worst fears. People question why we say ‘check before you buy’ because they think it is obvious, but the scenario I have just outlined is unfortunately very common.”

Senior Director at the OFT Ali Nikpay added: “Thousands of consumers are paying over the odds for cars that have had their mileage illegally tampered with. This landmark prosecution sends a clear message out to those adjusting car mileages that they face prison if they break the law. We will be working closely with our enforcement partners to raise standards across the sector and ensure that appropriate action is taken where mileage correction businesses break the law.”

Where do you stand? Do you or someone you know offer a mileage correction service? Let us know in the comments box below.

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IFA to join ADI buying group

IFA to join ADI buying group

ADIAfter losing two members in as many months to the Parts Alliance, the IFA has announced that it will be joining the ADI European buying group from January 1, 2013.

The new move is the latest in a string of significant shifts in the buying group landscape this year and provides the IFA with significant support.

IFA Chairman Gary Kennett said: “The aftermarket in the UK is undergoing a massive change right now. Every part of the market, and the way it works, is being challenged from various sources.

“We think that a partnership with ADI will enable us to respond adequately to these changes, so we look forward to this new era of international cooperation.”

The new member for ADI marks a renewed involvement for the group in the UK. ADI President Olivier Roux welcomed the IFA and said: “We believe that the IFA is well placed to represent ADI in the UK.

“We chose to support the IFA after a detailed study of its ambitious business plan. Their policy fits well with the expectations ADI has from them.”

Formed in 1970, ADI operates in 31 countries and says it put €5.7 billion through the books of its 2000 wholesalers and 500 distributors in 2011.

The IFA was created in 1977, has 35 members and nearly 200 branches. It says purchases from suppliers with group-wide agreements exceeds €120 million.

The added stability for IFA follows the departure of Motex and BBC Superfactors from the group to the Parts Alliance which itself lost Camberley Autofactors to Andrew Page in July.

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More investment for Parts Alliance members

More investment for Parts Alliance members

Jeremy Stopher

Jeremy Stopher

SC Motor Factors has become the third member of The Parts Alliance to accept an investment from HgCapital.

SC hasn’t disclosed the size of the investment, only describing it as “significant.”

The company says the investment will help it to accelerate plans to expand its network and strengthen its position within the UK aftermarket.

Co-Founder and Managing Director of SC Motor Factors Jeremy Stopher said: “The investment by HgCapital in SC Motor Factors is recognition of the great business that we’ve built. SC Motor Factors has gained a strong reputation within the automotive aftermarket and the investment by HgCapital will allow us to build on our success and strengthen and develop our business network further.”

The company has confirmed that following the investment Stopher will continue to manage the company and will drive forward its plans for growth.

SC Motor Factors will also remain part of The Parts Alliance. Chairman Steve Fulford said: ““We’re absolutely delighted that another member of The Parts Alliance will receive investment. This will further strengthen the capabilities of The Parts Alliance, increase the group’s distribution network and help drive forward our plans for the future. It’s an exciting time for everyone connected with the group.”

Fellow UKPA members CES and Allparts Automotive have also received significant investments from HgCapital.

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The number of service and repair outlets has dropped

The number of service and repair outlets has dropped

The number of service and repair workshops in the UK has fallen by over a fifth since 2001.

That’s according to the latest Trend Tracker report, which blames falling servicing volumes and increased costs for part of the fall in workshops.

Trend Tracker estimates that between 2001 and 2011 the number of service and repair outlets fell from 27,159 to 21,119  – a drop of 22 percent.

Trend Tracker Analyst Chris Oakham said: “Falling servicing volumes and a near-stagnant car parc in the UK have left many workshops struggling, but there are other issues at play.  Small businesses across the economy are being affected by inflation in fixed costs, while advances in modern vehicles’ electronics require greater investment in training and diagnostics equipment.”

The report also makes a startling prediction – that the trend will continue and that the remaining garage sector will decrease by a further seven percent by 2017.

There is hope for the future, however, previous Trend Tracker report also reveals that the value of the UK aftersales market has grown in recent years to be worth £8.97bn excluding MOTs and VAT. For those who survive the current cull then, there should be more work to go around and better profits to be made.

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2013 CAT Awards voting now open

2013 CAT Awards voting now open

The voting stage of the 2013 CAT Awards is now underway.

This year we’ve split both garages and factors into small and large categories, and you can also vote for the supplier of the year, person of the year and retailer of the year.

In all there are 34 people and companies looking for victory, so click on this link to take a look at the riders and runners and tell us who deserves it the most.

The winners will be announced at the 2013 CAT Awards ceremony in February next year.

The closing date for votes is 21st December 2012.

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CAT receives award from BEN

CAT receives award from BEN

The award was presented at Haymarket's Teddington offices

The award was presented at Haymarket's Teddington offices

CAT Magazine has received an award from the motor industry charity BEN in recognition for its support over the last year.

CAT Editor Peter Lawton, Publisher David Harris, Sales Executive Don Rupal and Reporter Darren Moss were presented with the award by Amanda Clements and Kirsten Galvin of BEN. The charity is giving a number of awards to the people, businesses and organisations which have supported it over the past year.

Peter Lawton said: “The CAT team is honoured and humbled to be recognised with this award. Compared with the huge amount of work done by BEN, CAT has barely scratched the surface with its support of this great automotive charity. We’ll back BEN through 2013 and beyond so that it can continue supporting industry workers and their families.”

To find out more about BEN and the work they do, visit

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BM Catalysts celebrates award success

BM Catalysts celebrates award success

BM Catalysts receiving its award

BM Catalysts receiving its award

BM Catalysts is celebrating after winning its category in the Family Business Awards.

Announced at a ceremony in Leicester the award recognises manufacturing excellence at the firm.

With a 30-year history and the third generation of the same family still running the company, BM Catalysts stood out as a good family-run business. The company shook off competition from other finalists to be crowned victorious.

Having succeeded his father in running the business earlier this year Managing Director Toby Massey is pleased with the result: ““To win any award is a great boost for business, but one that celebrates our family values and recognises how this has directly led to our success is hugely satisfying.

“We’d like to thank all our staff, many of whom have been part of the ‘BM Catalysts family’ for years, for their contribution to our ongoing success.”

BM Catalysts says the award rounds off an excellent year for the company, with strong sales increases and exports rising in the first quarter of 2012, followed by the launch of a new range at Automechanika in September.

Commercial Director Mark Blinston said: “It’s rewarding to see how a family-run UK manufacturing business can thrive despite the economic conditions that we constantly see reported in the media.”

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Credit ratings agency Moody’s says aftermarket revenues could be under threat from rising fuel prices in Europe.

The company says that as motorists continue to use their cars less the demand for service items and spare parts could fall, impacting on aftermarket revenues.

The agency suggests that some companies could see their credit ratings suffer as a result of the downturn.

Other suppliers whose main business does not come from the aftermarket would only experience a minor effect as the result of a European slump.

Moody’s Vice President and Senior Analysts Rainer Neidnig said: “We expect motorists in Europe to increasingly adopt more energy-efficient driving behaviour or avoid using their cars to keep their fuel spending under control.”

“As this behaviour reduces wear and tear, we could see demand for replacement car equipment such as tyres and brakes to decline, at least temporarily, thereby affecting auto suppliers’ aftermarket revenues.”

The report also notes that higher fuel costs could also impact on the sale of new cars and with that original equipment suppliers as well.

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