Lang Aftermarket iReport: Consumers compare garages & dealers

“The vehicle repair-age sweet-spot embraces cars and light trucks 6 to 10 years old. These vehicles average the highest replacement rates across many types of automotive products. Big changes will occur in the number and types of light vehicles populating the repair-age sweet-spot between 2016 and 2021.”

“While consumers have changed their perceptions of Garages and Dealers over the past few years, strong differences still exist in how they evaluate each of these competing groups of repair outlets.”

— Jim Lang, publisher, Lang Aftermarket iReport

Repair Convenience

Garages received the highest consumer ratings for Repair Convenience among the four outlets covered in this year’s analysis, 3.8 (on a scale of 1 to 5), followed by Repair Specialists with a 3.5 score. Dealers held third place with a 3.3 rating.

Consumer ratings of the Repair Convenience of Garages and Dealers have changed over the past three years. Garages decreased from a 4.0 to a 3.8 rating, while Dealers climbed from a 2.9 to a 3.3 score. By expanding their hours and adding Quick Lube bays, Dealers have become more convenient and customer friendly. These efforts are seeing results.

For specific jobs, such as Oil Changes, Quick Lubes (Repair Chains) have the highest rating for Repair Convenience, but they score lower on an overall basis since they offer a limited menu of repairs.

Technical Ability

Consumers rated Dealers significantly higher than the other three repair outlets for Technical Ability, with a 4.6 score.

Garages were ranked much lower by consumers at 3.0, but stronger than their 2.9 rating in Lang Marketing’s survey three years ago.

Consumer perceptions of Technical Ability vary by type of job. For example, for complex repairs, Dealers’ Technical Ability rating was 4.8, significantly higher than other outlets, with Garages falling to 2.7.

Repair Chains and Tire Stores ranked third and fourth in consumer perception of Technical Ability.

There are significant differences among consumers in how they perceive the Technical Ability of repair outlets depending on the age and nameplate of the vehicles they own (domestic versus foreign).

For routine repairs, such as Oil Changes, Quick Lubes rated high this year in Technical Ability, at 4.2.

Low Price

Consumers ranked Garages best of the four outlets for the Low Price of vehicle repair, with a 4.2 score. Dealers in contrast, were rated at the bottom with a 2.9 score.

The importance of Low Price to consumers varies depending on their income, vehicle nameplate, and vehicle age.

Low Price differs in significance by type of repair. For more complex repairs, Price has much less significance to consumers than it does for routine repairs and maintenance.

Fairness of Price

Garages received the highest consumer ratings for Fairness of Price, with a 3.8 score, better than the 3.3 rating of Dealers (up from 3.1 three years ago).

Much of this improvement can be attributed to Dealers now offering non-OE products and lower service rates for older vehicles and the used vehicles that they sell, especially nameplates other than what they sell new.

Tracking Consumer Perceptions

Dealers have significantly increased their ratings by consumers over the past three years in terms of Repair Convenience, Technical Ability, and Fairness of Price. Garages have seen the gap between themselves and Dealers narrow for Repair Convenience and Fairness of Price.

Six Major Takeaways

  • Consumers rated Garages highest for Repair Convenience, 3.8 (on a scale of 1 to 5), with Dealers at 3.3.
  • Dealers are improving how consumers perceive their Repair Convenience by extending store hours, adding Quick Service lanes, and implementing consumer-friendly service practices.
  • Dealers ranked highest in Technical Ability, 4.6, with Garages receiving a 3.0 rating. Garages earned a higher rating for Technical Ability in Lang Marketing’s latest research than they did three years earlier.
  • Garages recorded the highest consumer rating for Low Price and Fairness of Price, while Dealers recorded a fourth-place score for Low Price (behind Repair Chains and Tire Stores). Dealers ranked second in Fairness of Price and have improved their consumer ratings this year versus three years ago on both of these performance factors.
  • Consumers have raised their ratings of Dealers’ Repair Convenience, Technical Ability, and Fairness of Price.
  • See the just-released 2021 Lang Aftermarket Annual for a complete analysis of the DIFM product share of all six major types of repair outlets, including a 10-year history.

Copyright 2020 by Lang Marketing Resources, Inc.

NOTESpecial thanks to publisher Jim Lang for granting us permission to publish the Lang Aftermarket iReport.