Archive | 2012

INDEPENDENTS GRAB LARGER SHARE OF SERVICING WORK

INDEPENDENTS GRAB LARGER SHARE OF SERVICING WORK

Independents are getting a larger slice of servicing work

Independents are getting a larger slice of servicing work

Independent garages are gaining a greater share of the service and repair market as franchised dealers hit their lowest retention figures since 1998.

The latest Castrol Professional Car Servicing and Repair Trend Tracker points to results collected from January to August this year, which show that independents and fast fit workshops captured 47.9 percent of all servicing work, up from 44.7 percent in 2011. The rise is even more apparent when we consider that just a decade ago that figure stood at just 31.8 percent.

Franchised dealers carried out just 24.6 percent of servicing work during the same period, showing a 0.8 percent decline on 2011’s figures. Those results suggest that retention in the dealer sector is at its lowest level since 1998.

“Franchised dealers are struggling to compete with a resurgent independent sector,” said Trend Tracker analyst Chris Oakham “While British consumers are currently bucking the European trend for rapidly-declining new car sales, franchised dealers are still suffering from a deficit in sales throughout the recession.  Independents, meanwhile, are proving to be particularly successful at capturing market share in an aging car parc.”

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MOTOR CODES LAUNCHES MOBILE VERSION OF GARAGE FINDER

MOTOR CODES LAUNCHES MOBILE VERSION OF GARAGE FINDER

A screenshot of the new site

A screenshot of the new site

Motor Codes has launched a mobile version of its garage finder, helping more motorists find their way to the doors of its 7000 member garages this Christmas, including independents.

Motor Codes says that with the Christ-mass migration well under way more vehicles are going to need service and repair work – and garages shouldn’t miss out.

The mobile-optimised version of its website takes users straight to the garage finder function of the Motor Codes site, letting users search for garages that are closest to them.

Managing Director Chris Mason said: “When we’re at home, we have the security of the local main dealer or an independent garage that we’ve grown to trust.  Away from home, on holiday, you’ll be relying on a recommendation.  If something needs fixing while you’re on your travels, you can be assured that all Motor Codes garages comply with customer service guidelines set out by the OFT, they’re all inspected by the RAC and customers are invited to leave feedback online – which you can read via the mobile garage finder.”

“By using the Motor Codes mobile garage finder, you remove the risk of making a costly mistake if something does need fixing on your car while you’re away from home and away from the security of your usual garage.”

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Meyle to invest 40 million in future-proofing

Meyle to invest 40 million in future-proofing

Screen shot 2012-12-17 at 10.08.37

The move will double Meyle's storage capacity at the site

Meyle is expanding its warehouse in Hamburg in a move that will almost double its storage capacity at the site.

The diggers began rolling on the site in June and construction is now well under way. On completing the ambitious expansion Meyle will enjoy space for 56,000 pallets. The company says its expansion will help it to further expand its product offering while maximizing part availability.

The company’s plans don’t stop any time soon, either. Meyle says it will invest about 40 million euros in the next three to five years in future-proofing its operations. Besides increasing the size of its warehouse, the company us also planning to set up a new training centre plus new offices.

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Just 5 days left to vote for your aftermarket heroes

Voting for the CAT Awards 2013 closes this Friday, 21st December.

Make sure your votes are in before this date, as votes cast after this date will not count towards the final result.

If you need reminding of who is in the race for this year’s awards, here’s our nominations rundown.

Or, if you just need to cast your votes, click here.

This year has already attracted a record number of nominations and votes, with businesses from all areas of the aftermarket fighting it out to be crowned the top of their game.

The results of the CAT Awards 2013 will be announced in the Awards issue of CAT Magazine, out February 22nd.

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DFT REJECTS SUGGESTION FOR MOT ‘SHOPS TO JOIN CODES

DFT REJECTS SUGGESTION FOR MOT ‘SHOPS TO JOIN CODES

The Government has rejected calls for MOT stations to be obliged to join an approved code of conduct, but accepted many other recommendations aimed at improving the customer experience at garages.

A range of recommendations were put forward by the Motorists Forum which was created after the decision to stick to 3-1-1 servicing intervals.

The suggestion that all new MOT garages should have to join an approved code, and that existing workshops should join ‘as soon as it is practially possible,’ was the most contentious recommendation.

It was backed by forum members including Paul Everitt, outgoing Chief Executive of the SMMT of which the Motor Code for Service and Repair is a wholly-owned subsidiary and one such approved scheme alongside Bosch Code.

However, the Government’s response was: “We do not accept this recommendation. While we strongly support wider adoption of OFT/TSI backed codes, we have a presumption in favour of market mechanism and self-regulation.”

The DfT reponse undelines the Government’s reluctance to impose regulation on the industry, while disagreements on the recommendations show the difficulties in finding a unified way forward.

The recommendation was questioned by Bill Duffy of Halfords, and Stuart James of the Independent Garage Association, while the IAAF’s Brian Spratt called the entire legitimacy of the panel into question at the Federation’s recent conference.

Nevertheless, mixed figures from the AA/Populus survey show the need for the wider market to find a way forward as it still faces a lack of confidence and awareness amongst consumer and a growing threat to trade from franchises.

Overall the Government said: “Where customers are empowered with information about the standard of individual garages, market forces can drive up quality.” It’s response to other Forum proposals may also provide a framework for more united action. It accepted that:

  • VOSA should publicise the results of its compliance work.
  • More MOT data should be available to customers to help them make informed choices.
  • It is in the interests of all garages to sign up to an code of conduct approved by OFT/TSI.
  • Garages that are members of an approved code should benefit from ‘earned recognition’ within VOSA’s risk assessments.
  • Codes should expand to incorporate the MOT test.
  • Codes should provide customer feedback websites.
  • The AA and RAC should track consumer confidence in garages:
  • More publicity of mystery shopping exercises is needed
  • That codes should include requirements on training.

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MOTORIST FORUM

After Transport Secretary Justine Greening revealed that the Government was no longer going to push for longer 4-2-2 intervals this February, a review of the MOT system was announced.

A key aim of the review was to give consumers greater faith in the tests and work being conducted by MOT garages. Greening said: “I want each motorist to be confident that a visit to the garage ends with their car repaired to a high standard by a reputable mechanic rather than uncertainty about cost and the quality of service.

“Giving drivers the very best information about garage performance is absolutely key to achieving this goal.”

As a result, the Motorists Forum was created by the DfT to gather evidence and advice from the industry and consumers on the best way forward in delivering on Greening’s commitments.

The Forum is, initially, empowered for 12 months and has so far met three times in a bid to reach agreement on recommendations. Chairman of the Group, and former SMMT Chief Executive, Christopher Macgowan has already had a one-to-one meeting with Greening, but formal proposals will only be submitted following a further meeting.

While some proposed recommendations have garnered broad support, other suggestions from some Forum members look set to be rigorously opposed by others.

The most contentious of which is that all MOT garages should, within a year of the Forum’s report, sign up to a “suitably approved and enforced” code of conduct. Membership of such a code should become a requirement for entry into the MOT system, the recommendation reads.

Several Forum members quickly interpreted this as meaning membership of the Motor Code for Service and repair, since Greening herself referenced the SMMT-owned scheme in February. The Motor Code is also targeting and canvassing for all MOT garages to join the scheme.

Halfords’ Bill Duffy, who vigorously campaigned against 4-2-2 interval, questioned that mandated Motor Code membership should be recommended and said the key thing was to convince consumers of the quality of work and routes of redress if things went wrong, whichever banner this could be achieved under.

The AA’s Theresa Perchard said research shows approved codes are better than formal regulation. The whole panel agreed that this was not the way forward, and said whether one code in particular should be adopted was a separate debate. Perchard also said the approval process has, in the past, been slow.

Trading Standards boss Rob Gainsford also thought the recommendation should be about OFT-approved codes in general, and not one in particular. Now in charge of administering approved codes, Gainsford acknowledged that the process is not perfect, but said he was committed to working with stakeholders to address issues.

SMMT Chief Executive Paul Everitt said there was nothing stopping any other organisation from developing a code if they chose to then compete with existing schemes.

While the RMI’s Independent Garage Association has said the industry should have only one code, the IGA still has its Trust My Garage badge of honour for members.

IGA Director Stuart James told the Forum that he represented 3500 independent garages that are audited by the association and which proved to have very low levels of complaints. James said more options than codes should be explored, even if this takes more time.

While the formal licensing route is not backed by any member of the Forum, it seems likely that the proposed target of code membership within a year will be made less ambitious.

Revised recommendations are now being circulated to Forum members, but Chairman Macgowan conceeds that not all members still might not feel able to sign up to the report. The report can, in any event, be submitted without every members’ signature.

Other contentious recommendations are that garages which have signed up to a suitably approved and enforced code of conduct should be subject to less scrutiny by VOSA administrators.

A number of Forum members questioned the focus on the MOT since the broader remit of the group is to recommend on improvements across the service and repair board, while Duffy said the goal should be for universal technical standards.

It is a similar story around the proposed recommendation that all garages should be obliged to have IMI, ATA or equivalent training. Members thought incentives for training should be introduced rather than compulsory measures and that other routes to competence should be considered, not just for technical skills but also for customer service.

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MOTORIST’S FORUM

After Transport Secretary Justine Greening revealed that the Government was no longer going to push for longer 4-2-2 intervals this February, a review of the MOT system was announced.

A key aim of the review was to give consumers greater faith in the tests and work being conducted by MOT garages. Greening said: “I want each motorist to be confident that a visit to the garage ends with their car repaired to a high standard by a reputable mechanic rather than uncertainty about cost and the quality of service.

“Giving drivers the very best information about garage performance is absolutely key to achieving this goal.”

As a result, the Motorists Forum was created by the DfT to gather evidence and advice from the industry and consumers on the best way forward in delivering on Greening’s commitments.

The Forum is, initially, empowered for 12 months and has so far met three times in a bid to reach agreement on recommendations. Chairman of the Group, and former SMMT Chief Executive, Christopher Macgowan has already had a one-to-one meeting with Greening, but formal proposals will only be submitted following a further meeting.

While some proposed recommendations have garnered broad support, other suggestions from some Forum members look set to be rigorously opposed by others.

The most contentious of which is that all MOT garages should, within a year of the Forum’s report, sign up to a “suitably approved and enforced” code of conduct. Membership of such a code should become a requirement for entry into the MOT system, the recommendation reads.

Several Forum members quickly interpreted this as meaning membership of the Motor Code for Service and repair, since Greening herself referenced the SMMT-owned scheme in February. The Motor Code is also targeting and canvassing for all MOT garages to join the scheme.

Halfords’ Bill Duffy, who vigorously campaigned against 4-2-2 interval, questioned that mandated Motor Code membership should be recommended and said the key thing was to convince consumers of the quality of work and routes of redress if things went wrong, whichever banner this could be achieved under.

The AA’s Theresa Perchard said research shows approved codes are better than formal regulation. The whole panel agreed that this was not the way forward, and said whether one code in particular should be adopted was a separate debate. Perchard also said the approval process has, in the past, been slow.

Trading Standards boss Rob Gainsford also thought the recommendation should be about OFT-approved codes in general, and not one in particular. Now in charge of administering approved codes, Gainsford acknowledged that the process is not perfect, but said he was committed to working with stakeholders to address issues.

SMMT Chief Executive Paul Everitt said there was nothing stopping any other organisation from developing a code if they chose to then compete with existing schemes.

While the RMI’s Independent Garage Association has said the industry should have only one code, the IGA still has its Trust My Garage badge of honour for members.

IGA Director Stuart James told the Forum that he represented 3500 independent garages that are audited by the association and which proved to have very low levels of complaints. James said more options than codes should be explored, even if this takes more time.

While the formal licensing route is not backed by any member of the Forum, it seems likely that the proposed target of code membership within a year will be made less ambitious.

Revised recommendations are now being circulated to Forum members, but Chairman Macgowan conceeds that not all members still might not feel able to sign up to the report. The report can, in any event, be submitted without every members’ signature.

Other contentious recommendations are that garages which have signed up to a suitably approved and enforced code of conduct should be subject to less scrutiny by VOSA administrators.

A number of Forum members questioned the focus on the MOT since the broader remit of the group is to recommend on improvements across the service and repair board, while Duffy said the goal should be for universal technical standards.

It is a similar story around the proposed recommendation that all garages should be obliged to have IMI, ATA or equivalent training. Members thought incentives for training should be introduced rather than compulsory measures and that other routes to competence should be considered, not just for technical skills but also for customer service.

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NEW PRESIDENT AND RENEWED CONFIDENCE FOR IAAF

NEW PRESIDENT AND RENEWED CONFIDENCE FOR IAAF

Incoming IAAF President Graham Knight has called for greater communication on all levels of the aftermarket. The annual IAAF conference gave a perfect opportunity to call on the market to come together and saw a range of speakers updating the industry on where it is and where it’s going.

Chief Executive Brian Spratt took the chance to update members on changes in the market and incoming legislation. He talked about the ignorance amongst consumers when it comes to the care of their car, and reiterated the importance of customer service in the independent automotive aftermarket: “There’s a real problem with the way people are dealt with,” he said. “Customer requirements must be both understood and met.”

Spratt also criticised the Motorists’ Forum which was created after the decision to stick to 3-1-1 intervals with the goal of ensuring consumers were assured of better standards in the future. Spratt dubbed the Forum illegitimate and said was populated by cronies.

Next, autoPOLIS Managing Partner Dr John Wormald tackled the question of who has the most compelling service for motorists, the independent garage or a franchise? He pointed out that dealerships are increasingly operating on reduced margins on new cars, which are oversupplied to the market, so they will try to rely more on service, repair and parts.

“Although it makes up just ten percent or so of their total turnover, spare parts for the VMs is a constant cash cow,” he said. More meaningful profits lie elsewhere for them. “It is margins on workshop hours rather than on parts that is keeping them alive.”

As profits on new cars will continue to be squeezed, dealers will be forced to chase more service and repair but raise their prices. That represents a significant opportunity for the independent sector which will always be able to beat them on price.

Main dealers are up to 70 percent more expensive than their independent counterparts, so the aftermarket has everything to play for.

Wormald warned against driving down of prices in the aftermarket, then: “The industry suffers the inevitable consequences of the endless price war they play with each other.”

On garages numbers, Wormald noted that although the independent sector has seen the fastest rate of decline in recent years, independent garages are still by far the most numerous in the marketplace.

Most people live less than two miles away from an independent garage, while the average distance to find a franchise is 14 miles, he said.

Mike Owen also updated members on the drive to digital radio, something he sees as a £600 million opportunity when taking into account the 30 million vehicles which will need to be converted.

Brian Spratt also chaired a lively debate on the subject of matching quality, referencing the cover story in last month’s edition of CAT.

“This is a nasty area. Some people might accuse me of being foolish for stirring it up, but I think this is something we need to face up to as an industry,” he said.

First Line’s Alan Wood, who also gave a presentation on some of his company’s quality control processes, said: “The processes are something that you can check, the problem is that the processes are only as good as you make them, you can make them the minimum quality and if you’re checking that in actual fact it means nothing.”

Suplex’s Andrew Graham said: “We’re six or seven years too late in tackling this – who actually issues the matching quality certificate? Self-certification? How good is that? It’s not policed.”

It was suggested that garages should be enforced to use appropriate parts, but Graham Knight said: “To try and tackle every garage is an enormous task. Garages and technicians are buying their parts from us. We can sit here and say how to should be done and say that this is everyone else’s fault, but it’s our fault. We supply the parts and it’s us that need to get our houses in order.”

At the evening dinner the annual IAAF award presentations were made and more than £6000 was raised for industry charity BEN.

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BOSCH ACQUIRES SPX SERVICE SOLUTIONS

BOSCH ACQUIRES SPX SERVICE SOLUTIONS

SPX taken over by Bosch

SPX taken over by Bosch

Bosch has completed the acquisition of SPX Service Solutions.

The components giant says the acquisition strengthens its position in the workshop and repair sectors.

Bosch began proceedings in January, but the purchase of SPX has now been completed following approval from the antitrust authorities.

SPX develops, manufactures and sells service equipment, repair accessories and software for the global market. Based in the US, SPX had sales of $920 million in 2011.

President of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket Division Robert Hanser said: “In acquiring SPX Service Solutions, we will become a comprehensive supplier of solutions in the diagnostics and repair business. In expanding our portfolio and extending our global presence, especially in the U.S., we are strengthening our position.

“We will quickly merge our know-how and wealth of experience in this growing market. Our aim is to become the world’s leading supplier of diagnostics solutions for all makes of vehicles.”

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You have until 21st December to vote for your aftermarket heroes

The end is now in sight for the CAT Awards 2013. Voting for this year’s awards closes on the 21st December, so you have until then to vote for YOUR aftermarket heroes.

The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in February, and a full report will be in our special awards edition of the magazine soon after. Of course, you can follow CAT Magazine on Twitter and Facebook for live updates throughout the day, too.

Each year we see real business benefits coming to each of our award winners, as well as local and national media coverage. The full list of nominees has been up for a while now, and you can find it here. Time is running out to cast your important vote, though, so make sure you do it before it’s too late!

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