Who’s going to fix your car tomorrow?

In her first article for Aftermarket, Rebecca Pullan from Carmaster in Harrogate she gives her perspective on the impact of tech companies on our sector

Published:  29 June, 2020

Disruptors. These exist because technological advances often create a new, more direct route towards an end goal. They are often so innovative that they appear, almost as if by magic, like a Doctor Who-style door to an alternative universe. Unbelievable things that appear in your everyday workplace. Just ask any estate agent or travel agent. They are not fiction.
Naturally, for the end user they also offer ease, convenience or financial benefit. The best of these so-called ‘disruptors’ offer all three. Hello Uber...But beware. No business is immune while we have entrepreneurs from outside the sector who think they understand what we need to be doing.

In my opinion, Who Can Fix My Car.com cannot be defined as a disruptor. The definition is too good for it. There is no doubt that the motor trade is Dickensian in a lot of ways but is this the revolution that it needs? I don’t think so. Let’s look at a few parts of the jigsaw.
In order to bid for work on Who Can Fix My Car, you must pay an initial membership fee (cost one). This is the first cost that you will encounter in the process.  And who is the most likely to win? You guessed it. The cheapest. A good quality, value for money, modern thinking workshop will never win. The word win is a verb, showing success. You won’t find any here, at either end.
This competition does not benefit the customer. Instead, while they may initially feel the financial benefit, work is often of poorer quality and can lead to further problems down the line. There is no profit left for the investment in the specialist equipment required to maintain modern cars or the staff needed to operate it. When margins are eroded like this, it’s really no surprise that so many talented colleagues are leaving our industry. The overall result of this is a skills shortage and an inability to provide a decent service to the customer. By ‘winning’ the work you must also pay the fee (cost two).

Servicing fees are often in excess of £12+VAT. Despite this, many workshops are offering to complete a service for under £100. And yes, that does include VAT. Which begs the question, what is the customer actually getting for their money?  Excuse my little diversion.    
What does the customer get for this money? What does a service mean? Anyone? Even the main dealers are confused by this. Our local dealership will call during your ‘service’ to ask if you want the ‘brake service’ at additional cost! Hmm. This confusion leaves plenty of space for even more derogation of the classic service. Perhaps we could just wash it and top up the oil?

A final note from me: Say you do win the job and you’re a great garage; you’re taking a view. Say I’m wrong (this is most extraordinary, as my husband will agree). Now what happens?
You have a new happy customer whom you have wooed with your very best and probably at rock bottom prices. You might have even made a loss. Later, they need those pads and discs, you remember, the ones you advised? Do they call you? Nah. They start the whole process again.


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