Put in place with the partnership of Motor Codes, it aims to answer the criticisms of other schemes and make the garage experience more transparent for consumers.
Alongside the scheme Groupauto has launched an online garage finder, available at approvedgarages.co.uk. Groupauto said: “The Approved Garages programme is a not-for-profit initiative that will provide consumers with a network of trusted independent garages delivering quality and transparency, while also providing the garages in the scheme with new and repeat business.
“The purpose of the Approved Garages network is to challenge the negative perception that many motorists have of the independent garage. The only way to do that is to channel genuine enquiries from motorists that need to find a reputable garage through to a network that will do a quality job. This will raise the reputation of the network, the individual garages within it and the reputation of the independent automotive aftermarket.”
Although members of the scheme will not be obligated to buy from Groupauto suppliers, the company “believes they will benefit over the long-term” from doing so.
All of the garages signing up to the new scheme will have to join Motor Codes, and in doing so will be subject to the same standards and quality control checks as existing subscribers adhere to.
Motor Codes Communications Manager David Rogers said: “As with any Motor Codes garage they will all be inspected by the RAC. I think independent garages increasingly recognise that what we’re offering is a safety net for consumers. People see the Trading Standards logo, other people’s feedback and know that there is a government advice line to back those promises.
“This will become an official collaboration because they [GAU] are committing their garages to signing up to the codes of practice. I think this makes things clearer, because by choosing a Motor Codes subscribed garage you know what standards to expect. You know that if anything goes wrong, or you need to ask advice, there are customer service experts here who can act as go betweens, and who have success rates of 93 percent.”
This isn’t the first partnership between Motor Codes and another garage scheme. Rogers says Motor Codes already has an agreement with Unipart and its Car Care Centre programme as well as the RAC Approved Garages scheme. They contribute 584 and 217 garages to the Motor Codes network respectively.
Groupauto says that its network isn’t designed to run in opposition to any of the service and repair schemes currently operating. Instead Approved Garages will “work alongside them, to provide a network of garages that motorists can trust. It is designed to link motorists with a need to those most skilled and trustworthy to provide a solution to it.”
Those garages signing up to Approved Garages will also have access to technical training offered by Groupauto and its training partner eXponentia. As an added bonus garages signing up will have their annual Motor Codes subscriptions paid for them. Groupauto has confirmed there will be a cost for garages to join the scheme, but wouldn’t be drawn on the specific price.
Groupauto stresses that selection for the Approved Garages network will be by invitation only and those garages will “have to provide guarantees for their quality and reputation, and adhere to Approved Garages procedures.” The group says it wants 5-600 garages signed up by April.