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Scotland Ash News

  • 18th January 2018

    You have the right to bring you car to your local… garage

    “It’s perhaps an understatement to say there’s been a lot of change this year, but it sets up the prospects of an interesting 2018 at least.

    As the largest courtesy car fleet in Oxfordshire, we’ve enjoyed a busy year. And of course, we’ve seen a fast pace in development dictated by the trade through a relentless amount of consolidation and acquisitions. Is this just the tip of the iceberg as we head into 2018 I wonder?

    Last year I highlighted the issue with consumers succumbing to poor main dealer standards. That still stands as being very much an issue we as an independent garage continue to tackle, moving in to next year.

    More than ever, we need to hit home the message to our customers regarding Block Exemption. The number of consumers, who still believe taking their car to their main dealer when a problem arises on their vehicle as being the only option, is staggering. Whether this is due to a lack of awareness regarding choice and their rights, or due to a lack of trust with their local garage, it is our responsibility – and priority – to ensure that the level of trust is there. A rise in poor main dealer servicing standards is killing the trade’s reputation and so we must be proactive.

    It is encouraging to see the IAAF’s Right2Choose campaign that is promoting the message to motorists. This champions our cause and we all must lend our voice to this campaign particularly as we head into 2018.

    We are also seeing a trend in the market for more vehicle rentals, for some a preferred option to owning a car and being ‘burdened’ with the responsibility of taking it in for a service. Consumers are becoming more detached from their vehicle than ever before. The demands of modern life may be a factor, but garages need to focus more on customer convenience to help deter more numbers. We need to make the customer experience as best and as stress-free as possible – I’m talking improved customer service, excellent communication, more availability and slicker efficiency.

    A marketing strategy, however basic, is essential – it should incorporate newsletters and social media in that mix. Again, this harks back to my comments regarding building trust. I know that we face daily challenges managing our own time, but we need to wherever we can deploy more effort now for the sake of longer-term customer relations and business objectives, to retain not just our existing customers but also generate new ones.”

    Peter Welch, Scotlands Ash Garage