Ok, so it’s not considered fair play to profit from others’ misfortune, but the announcement that the number of workshops in the franchised dealer sector has fallen by a considerable 19% in 10 years surely indicates that motorists are voting, literally with their wheels.
Before you all go off popping the champagne corks as you celebrate the continual migration of motorists from the franchised sector to independent chains and garages, today’s figures should perhaps offer more of a cautionary tale.
Sure, the information from the Castrol Professional Car Servicing & Repair Trend Tracker report tells us that the number of franchised dealer workshops has dropped by 1,235 locations from 2004 to 2014 (19.2%), down to a total of 21,358. However, all those customers have not simply taken their trade from the franchised sector and arrived at your doorsteps, unfortunately.
Independent workshops have also reduced in number, it has to be said, not quite so dramatically, by 13%.
You don’t need us to tell you that it is a combination of factors: from the downturn in the economy still having an effect as motorists watch their spending, to more reliable cars which therefore require fewer repairs. The report also highlights factors such as natural wastage as poorly performing independents have closed and manufacturers which have consolidated their networks in recent years.
The report sends a stark warning to both sectors that whilst the number of workshops overall is likely to remain broadly stable over the next five years, the volume of service work will continue its long-term downward trend.
The number of transactions each year in the retail servicing and repair sector has dropped from 50.4 million in to 46.9 million in 2014. By 2020 this forecast to drop another 9.6% to 42.4 million with the record new car sales partly to blame as more and more younger vehicles which require less service and repair work enter the car parc.
We are pleased to report that it isn’t all doom and gloom as the independent sector’s share of the aftersales market is likely to grow in numbers by 5% along with the amount of independent MoT testing stations over the next five years. If MoT testing isn’t something your business offers, it is well worth considering, you may even receive work from local franchised dealers, especially as franchised workshops are predicted to reduce by a further 10% over the same period.
Whilst your competitors will fall in number, there’s not much time for resting on laurels as the volume of work is also predicted to fall.