CALGARY — Jim Bray owns a 2005 Audi A4 and 2013 Toyota RAV4, and as such, he is the prize in a tight contest between independent repair shops and dealerships for domination of Canada’s $10-billion service market for vehicles four to 12 years old.
So far, Bray favours the independents, taking his business to Calgary-based Continental Auto Service.
“It’s a lot cheaper to go there for any work I need done,” he said. “And a couple of times they’ve even saved me money.”
Bray’s preference is reflected in a new study by J.D. Power showing a close battle with non-dealers in the lead on customer numbers — 53.5 per cent versus 46.5 — but dealerships banking 53 per cent of dollars spent on vehicle service during the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Canada Customer Service Long-Term Study shows aftermarket spending rising to an average $223 per visit from $204 in 2017, while spending at dealerships declined to $291 from $303.
J.D. Ney, automotive industry practice leader at J.D. Power Canada, said dealers need to boost customer service if they hope to overtake the independents.
“With the vast majority of these vehicles out of warranty, customers are rethinking their brand loyalties and exploring their options,” Ney said, adding that the money difference reflects the type of work, with more complex jobs being done at a dealership.
“You are talking about second or even third owners who don’t have a dealer connection and the biggest draw for aftermarket shops is location and timing.
“Customer service is critical for loyalty and advocacy,” he said. “Service facilities that want to build customer loyalty need to provide positive experience.”
He said that begins with the service adviser, a role “that’s increasingly important.”