We take a look at how the automotive repair market should consider applying lessons from digital retailers to enhance the service they provide to motorists.
Given the size of the aftersales market and how consumers have embraced digital retailing, businesses which adapt their proposition to embrace online convenience, such as bookings and payments, are more likely to appeal to time-poor customers and those looking for a speedy and efficient service.
The UK’s aftersales market contributes a massive £12.2 billion to the economy, according to latest stats from the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The figures show the sector services 30 million vehicles a year generating revenue of some £21.1 billion with the average annual spend per car at £695.39 (source: SMMT and Frost & Sullivan Reports: The Importance of the UK Aftermarket to the UK Economy (2017). The aftersales market also supports 345,600 jobs.
Aftersales providers developing products, services and systems to deliver an ‘invisible service’ to ‘on-demand’ customers schooled in the click-and-collect or click-and-deliver mentality pioneered by the likes of Amazon could find themselves first choice among customers who expect an increasingly digital aftersales experience.
According to research published by Accenture last year, customers want convenience and they are willing to pay. It means service and repair businesses developing or even delivering innovative new ways to meet the growing demand for digitally-based aftersales solutions could find themselves ahead of the competition.
Almost half (45%) of the drivers questioned in the research do not want to visit a workshop as part of the routine service and would happily arrange and transact at a distance. And the younger the driver, the more they want their vehicle service to be integrated into their everyday lives.
The invisible service would work through an app similar to the familiar click and collect except there’s also a click and drop-off or pick-up in the equation, according to the report. As well as booking the service, the customer selects a pick-up or drop-off location for their vehicle, at home or the workplace, for example. Keys can either be deposited at the workshop or the vehicle opened remotely. A replacement vehicle is also delivered in a similar way and once the service or repair is complete, the collection and drop-off works in reverse whilst payment is made online.
Whilst aftersales providers may baulk at the cost implications of app development, savings are also possible as service providers and repairers will be able to locate to cheaper out-of-town premises because customers won’t be visiting on-site.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed said they would consider paying a flat fee for their servicing requirements. Other services respondents would be willing to pay for include overnight servicing (60%), pick up from and return home (60%), pick up from and return to work (55%) and drop off at a convenient location such as airport or shopping centre (46%).
In addition, 92% were willing to share the necessary vehicle data with 47% happy to provide information for free and 45% who said they would do so in exchange for discounts and incentives.
If nothing else, the combination of a huge aftersales parc and the insights from this survey, service and repair providers, many of whom may already be providing some of these services, should experiment further to gauge uptake and willingness among motorists to pay for additional convenience.