21 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Key aftermarket themes for 2023 identified

The main challenges for garages in 2023 will involve continuing to provide a compelling offering for customers, while simultaneously navigating an increasingly complex legislative environment and keeping staff up to date on training, according to LKQ Euro Car Parts’ CEO Andy Hamilton.

He identified four main themes: “Firstly, there will be a renewed focus on enhancing the customer experience. Independent garages and bodyshops can look to displace franchised operators if they can add a more professionalised experience to their more competitively priced offerings.
A welcoming reception area, a clean workshop and a modern and functioning online presence can give motorists looking to make their money go further the confidence to work with an independent operator.”

Offering a more tailored set of services is a second key area: “Being able to offer lower cost alternatives to OEM brands without compromising on quality, for example, may offer a more cost-effective solution while showing empathy for the customer’s own financial situation. This is why one of our own major areas of focus next year will bolstering the range of options available to garages and bodyshops, through our popular, great quality brands like Starline and MPM.”

Then there are the issue around legislation, with the replacement of the Block Exemption Regulation, MOT frequency and uncertainty around whether an equivalent of SERMI will be introduced in Great Britain, as it will be in Northern Ireland, the recurring themes. Then there is the issue of training, where garages face the need to keep up-skilling staff for the EV future, while balancing the costs of such training. Andy observed: “Leaving aside the race to get EV-ready and the need to build a sustainable future, which may rightly or wrongly feel like a problem for another day, the arrival of ADAS-equipped and even hybrid vehicles in the aftermarket is very much upon us – an issue exacerbated by the decline in new car sales.”

He added: “Where they can, garages and bodyshops must continue to invest in the skills, people and equipment needed. There is even an opportunity to help take market share from franchises if they can service more sophisticated vehicles.”