Franchised dealers ‘better value than ever’ – survey

Upfront service packages make franchised dealers better value than ever when it comes to aftersales work, according to a new survey – but industry bosses say perceptions of higher costs created by high-end facilities must still be addressed to win the trust of customers.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) Consumer Attitude Survey 2019 sampled more than 2000 owners of cars under seven years old, and the results show public confidence in franchised dealers has improved significantly in a number of areas.

But Richard Roberts, the chairman of the NFDA National Aftersales Working Group, said: “It is great that the data shows that franchised dealers are seen to do a great job – and that the belief in their abilities improves significantly among anyone who has had an interaction with them.

“But the challenge remains to get the perception of quality to match one of value for money. There is a truth in the statement that we can scare customers off with our wonderful premises. That’s a shame, particularly is this era of fixed-price servicing which delivers peace of mind for an incredibly fixed price for a number of years after you buy the car. These packages represent phenomenal value for money and we need to get that message out there.”

The survey results show that an increasing number of consumers consider franchised dealers to be professional, knowledgeable and able to provide good customer service. Two-thirds of those surveyed also rated them as the “safest” option for aftersales work, while there was also a significant uplift in consumer knowledge around franchised dealers offering smaller work – such as new tyres or windscreen wiper replacement – at a good price.

Franchised dealers also scored significantly higher trust scores for servicing of all engine types, but most significantly hybrid, plug-in-hybrid and pure electric, suggesting that the technology shift for new cars would open up more opportunities.

NFDA chairman Mark Squires added: “Where do you go when your Apple product breaks? Most of us go to Apple. As cars get more complex – be it connected technology or new powertrains – I think the expectation among consumers will increasingly be that they want technicians trained on their specific car by the manufacturer who made it to do the work, and there’s no question that will open up opportunities.

“The great news from this survey is that the franchised dealers are delivering; the scores are all up in the right places, and the uplift from people who have encountered franchised dealers after usually using independent or high street brands for aftersales work shows that we are well placed to deliver beyond expectations.”