The CAT Council: Shell franchise finder angers aftermarket



Welcome to the CAT Council

We want CAT to remain at the heart of the UK aftermarket, and to help do that we want to hear from YOU.

We’ve gathered a council of some of the most influential people in the aftermarket to discuss the issues facing our industry. We’ve collected opinions from suppliers, factors, garages, retailers and manufacturers to bring you unique discussion and insight.

The question we asked the council this month was:

What do you think of Shell’s advertising claims for its new franchise finder? Are the slurs against independent garages justified?

Below you’ll find responses from some of the members of the CAT Council.

Andrew Jeffrey
Andrew Jeffrey

“Shell appear to be selling their ‘Car Servicing Network’ based on the assumption that it is only the franchised dealer networks who adhere to rigorous manufacturer standards. They also appear to be promoting franchised dealers as the only viable place to take your car for “genuine original equipment parts designed specifically for the make of car”.

“What Shell fail to acknowledge is that a motorist does not have to visit a dealer network to receive this standard of service, nor do they have to use original equipment car parts, and above all, using car parts that match the quality of original equipment parts will not invalidate their car warranty.

“A profile awareness job is also required when it comes to helping motorists to understand more about the actual car parts they can have fitted to their cars.

“Above and beyond the “franchised dealer versus independent garage” debate is the need to lay out the facts to motorists, not to blind them with jargon, and to help them to understand exactly what to expect when taking their car to be serviced or repaired at a quality independent garage.”

Andrew Jeffrey, Unipart Automotive


Richard Shortis
Richard Shortis

“Many years ago Shell was going to show us all the way the aftermarket should be run, when they established Super Drive. They bought up factors, workshops/fitting bays and retail stores, poured loads of money into them which they then proceed to loose. Super Drive is no more.

Then again the people at Shell may not remember that or perhaps they do remember getting their fingers burnt, that is why they are pointing towards the franchised dealer.

Franchise dealers and independent workshops both have their place in the market, my car goes into the dealer to be serviced, but I supply they parts as I do not see why I should pay their prices for oil, filters, plugs and even screen wash when I have it in stock!”

Richard Shortis, Shortis Group


Steve Gandy
Steve Gandy

“I would suggest that 80% of the comments made by Shell are true. The training level of 90% of our garages is awful. We have offered free training only to be knocked back. The mentality of ‘I have been doing this for 30 years’ is prevalent in this industry.

“Dealerships appeal to Mr and Mrs average because they have the element of trust. The ‘Arthur Daley’ rip off merchants still exist in our industry and they are in the majority whilst the good independants are still a minority.

“Educate the consumer about quality so that they know what to ask for when they go to an indepedant, and take the power out of the hands of these people who are dragging the aftermarket down.”

Steve Gandy, RRD Automotive


Tony Bhogal
Tony Bhogal

Regarding Shell, this opens up a wider debate regarding brand and perception of brand with Shell aligning with the manufacturers as the ‘OE brands’

“The aftermarket needs to look beyond the name, as we’ve discussed before Lucas is just a box but in the trade it is still seen as a manufacturing brand, same with ECP and their use of Pagid.

“I suppose it is a way of getting the general public to pay that premium price…”

Tony Bhogal, AutoElectro


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  1. The Shell website mentions that dealership’s have product
    knowledge, well to counter this point our local Vauxhall dealer
    serviced a Nissan and 3 weeks later the engine management light came on
    so the owner returned and he was told they could not read the codes as
    they had no tools that would read a Nissan. We took a look at it and to
    cut a long story short it was found that the Vauxhall garage had fitted
    the wrong grade of oil (as stated on the invoice no less!) and it was
    causing the valves to stick.
    We changed the oil & filter to the correct
    grade and the car ran fine and has been since,i know this as yes you
    guessed it we gained a new customer.

    I have loads of such stories as i
    guess so will every independent garage has too .