Canadian dealerships are improving service satisfaction — with Audi leading the way — according to a new survey by J.D. Power. However, vehicle owners are still more satisfied with non-dealer service centres and garages.
According to the J.D. Power 2020 Canada Customer Service Index—Long-Term Study, dealers scored an average of 788 out of a possible 1,000 points while non-dealers averaged 795. Audi was the top auto brand, with a score of 833. NAPA Autopro scored 827 to lead non-dealer outlets.
“Two areas that can drive a notable increase in satisfaction are greeting customers immediately as they enter the shop and returning the vehicle cleaner than when it arrived,” J.D. Power explained in a statement. “Overall, non-dealers continue to do a better job of greeting customers immediately than do dealers.”
Dealerships and non-dealers combined to achieve an overall satisfaction score of 791, up from 779 in 2019.
The study found dealers are also increasing market share — up to 49 per cent from 48 a year ago — and per-visit cost for maintenance and repair of vehicles four to 12 years old.
Costs per visit at dealerships increased to $375 in 2020 versus $323 in 2019. Non-dealer facilities saw costs of $241 in 2020 versus $222 a year ago.
“In an industry estimated at $9.2 billion annually, the high cost-per-visit means dealerships capture 60 per cent of service revenue in Canada (approximately $5.5 billion),” J.D. Power said. “Furthermore, the dealership segment also sees a slight increase in the average number of customer visits (1.4 in 2020 vs. 1.3 in 2019), while non-dealer facilities have declined to 1.5 visits from 1.6 visits in 2019.”
Dealers are also doing a good job of capturing returning customers for paid service, stemming from increased satisfaction while vehicles are still under warranty, J.D. Power said. In 2020, 60 per cent of owners of three-year-old vehicles say they “definitely will” return for paid service, up from 53 per cent in 2015. Dealers also increased their overall share of service visits among owners of four- to seven-year-old vehicles during that same period (58 per cent in 2020 compared with 39 per cent in 2105.
J.D. Power compared the numbers over a five-year span.
“As COVID-19 put new-vehicle purchase intentions on hiatus, vehicle owners are—and will be—holding on to their current and aging vehicles for a longer period, which means more potential for repair opportunities,” Virginia Connell, automotive research and consulting manager at J.D. Power Canada said in a statement. “Considering that nearly 40 per cent of the auto service business for dealers comes from repair work, which is also a more lucrative revenue source than maintenance, dealerships should focus on improving all aspects of this service offering, mainly around service advisor and vehicle pick-up.”
Lexus finished second among dealers in the overall rankings with a score of 810 while BMW placed third at 808. Costco, with 801 points, was second among non-dealerships. Kal Tire placed third with 792.