18 May 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Ed’s comment

The independent garage industry is growing, with drivers finally seeing the benefits of taking their cars somewhere other than a main dealership. Yet there are still problems that plague the sector and its reputation.

The so-called ‘back street garage’ is one of the main issues. It doesn’t take much to set up a workshop to fix cars; all you realistically need are some tools and a name. There is no requirement for training, no need to prove to customers that you are competent and for every good garage out there, a need to explain why a customer’s car has been fixed so shoddily and will cost more to put right. If certain components fail due to poor installation, a vehicle can be extremely deadly. You wouldn’t let just anyone work on a gas boiler or your home electrics so what makes a car different?

Those two industries have clear accreditation and licensing schemes in place, whereas our industry does not. This makes it vulnerable to the chancers and to a poor public perception. If Dave under the arches bodges a fix, you’d expect a main dealer to be the trusted place to go every time afterward. However, if Dave had to apply for a licence and go through months of training before he could pick up a spanner, would he even want to rent that lock-up?

The next question is who implements the licensing and who exactly should be licensed? The IMI has recently announced that it will lobby Parliament to introduce licencing, however at the Aftermarket Round Table the consensus was that the industry should take it upon itself to set up a system, allowing it to regulate itself without external influence. Then, should it be the individual technician who is licensed, or the business itself? Technician licensing would take much longer to implement with more cost but would be more effective, ensuring everyone fixing cars has been trained to some degree.