Franchises are going to have their work cut out in 2012.
Weâ€™ve seen over the past few months that the independent aftermarket is taking an ever-larger slice of the repair and servicing pie. The latest Trend Tracker report shows that in 2011 independents have taken 45.7 percent of all servicing and repair work in the UK.
Fair enough, thatâ€™s still less than half, but consider this â€“ In 2010 that figure was just 42 percent. This sort of growth has got the franchises worried, as well it should.
Automotive consultancy companies are noticing the trend as well. Specialist analysts at Coachworks Consulting say that franchises are going to have to seriously rethink their approach to after-sales services if theyâ€™re going to compete.
Coachworks says that in the past, dealers have been happy to solve their problems by forking out thousands of pounds on IT enquiry systems, rather than focusing on improving customer services. In 2012, that all needs to change.
Coachworks MD Karl Davis said: â€œIn this sort of climate, itâ€™s no longer enough for leaders to invest in enquiry management technology and then wash their hands of the matter thinking theyâ€™ve done their bit.â€
In the short time Iâ€™ve been a part of the independent aftermarket, Iâ€™ve seen this industry has an incredible ability to change and adapt to the needs of the consumer. As the stats are starting to show, motorists are getting more faith in going to independents, and that trend looks set to roll on into the New Year.
That doesnâ€™t mean you can rest on your laurels though, the independent aftermarket needs to be more dynamic and more innovative than ever before in 2012. We need to be getting customers through the doors not (necessarily) with basement prices, but with the promise of the best customer service theyâ€™ll find anywhere.
Franchises will be spending the Christmas period thinking about how theyâ€™re going to claw back a bigger market share in the New Year, you need to be doing the same. If youâ€™ve been on the brink of investing in new technology for the past few months, now is the time to take the plunge.
Likewise, if youâ€™ve been storing up the advice from our monthly Know How pieces in the magazine, now is the time to put it all into action.
2012 will be all about taking care of the customer, and in turn theyâ€™ll help you take care of your business. Whatever the franchises do in the New Year, the aftermarket needs to be doing it better. Remember that and you should be able to look forward to a profitable 2012.