Getting your car serviced – independent or franchised dealer?
We’re more satisfied with the servicing we receive from independent garages than that supplied by franchised dealers – according to the 2012 Which? Car Survey. So how could franchised car servicing improve?
We ask thousands of motorists each year about their car servicing experience. And 10 times out of 10 the independent garages receive better satisfaction ratings than authorised manufacturer servicing.
Take Toyota as an example. The 2,272 Toyota owners who had their car serviced at a franchised dealer gave those dealers an average customer score of 80.3 per cent. But the 1,063 Toyota drivers who had their car serviced independently gave an 88 per cent customer score on average. So why should an independent out-rate a garage that has direct links with the manufacturer of the car itself?
Money makes the world go round
Unsurprisingly, cost is the biggest stumbling block for franchised servicing departments. It’s no secret you’ll come away better off from an independent dealer in most situations, but is that the main gripe for all of us?
A couple of years ago we discussed the trend for franchised dealers to offer servicing bundles – a few years’ worth of servicing at a set cost. The most popular of these was the Mini’s TLC bundle (five years’ worth of servicing for £200), which many thought well worth it. But of course with these bundles come potential problems – although the service is included in the package, pricey things like tyres and brake pads aren’t, so you could still end up forking out quite a bit to your franchised dealer.
Can we improve franchised dealer servicing?
So given that independent dealer satisfaction ratings always come out on top, what does this say about the future of franchised dealer servicing? I presume the majority of owners who have their cars serviced at authorised manufacturer dealers are mainly those who are doing so under warranty. Perhaps we’re all switching to independent specialists and local garages when the warranty period ends.
I think a high proportion of people will be doing this. So what is it that has to change about dealer servicing? Is it purely a case of cost, or are there other areas you think could be improved?
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