The sharp rise in operating costs has been the biggest headache for independent garages in 2022 according to a new poll.
A questionnaire by The Motor Ombudsman was answered by 86 workshops, both independent and franchised.
79% expressed concern over increasing operational costs, with a similar number also stating their bottom line had been particularly affected by the significant jump in energy and fuel prices, which continue to climb to record highs.
Delays getting hold of replacement parts were cited as the second largest obstacle for garages and workshops, negatively impacting around three quarters of businesses that took part in the poll.
71% of garages and workshops reported they had seen motorists reduce their spending on ad hoc and routine vehicle maintenance and repairs when compared to the first six months of last year, with motorists most likely to push their annual servicing date as far ahead as possible.
Amazingly, given the current weather conditions, around half noted a drop in customers asking for fluid top-ups and recharges, including air-conditioning refrigerant. A further 55% reporting a fall in bookings for the replacement of wear and tear components, namely tyres, brake discs and wiper blades, when compared to the volume witnessed between January and June 2021.
Similarly, over half of businesses (58%) said that demand had dropped for the topping-up of fluids, such as oil and air conditioning coolant, with 55% reporting a fall in bookings for the replacement of wear and tear components, namely tyres, brake discs and wiper blades, when compared to the volume witnessed between January and June 2021.
Encouragingly however, in a sector where experienced labour is in short supply, only 21% of poll participants stated that they had incurred staff absences due to COVID-19, a marked decrease on the 50% figure recorded in The Motor Ombudsman’s 2021 end-of-year survey.
Motor Ombudsman MD Bill Fennel said: “With the outlook for the next six months continuing to look difficult, it is unsurprising that service and repair business owners are looking to raise prices to maintain profitability and support staff salaries. This of course all comes during a period when households, which are already under a financial strain, are set to experience even greater pressure from increasing energy costs before year-end, with vehicle maintenance, as shown in our March survey, taking even more of a back seat for many.”