Private Auto Repair Shops…Or Dealerships?
You may have noticed that carmakers are pushing the service departments of their dealerships more and more in advertising. Ford touts themselves as “America’s Newest Tire Store” and GM’s “Good Wrench Service Plus” has been around for a long time. So why is that happening?
· With discounts and special financing, the profit margins on new cars have dropped considerably, and dealerships have to generate more business through their service departments.
· At one time, warranty work accounted for about 70 percent of the work done at dealerships. Today, with better, more dependable and longer-lasting cars, that figure has dropped to about 20 percent.
· Dealerships’ service support is another selling point for new-car buyers.
If you’re taking your vehicle to a dealership, though, there are some things to remember. Dealerships do have the advantage of inside information on service and repair for new vehicles. Some of this service bulletin information isn’t easily accessible for those outside of the dealer network. Dealerships are required to keep their service staff up to speed on this information and provide brand-specific training and tools just to keep their franchises.
Also, since dealerships’ service departments are used to working to a given make, their techs can often do very well on those vehicles and can often get diagnosis and repair done more quickly and accurately. The down side of that is that technicians may find themselves working faster to meet quotas, and technicians may be reluctant to take repair jobs on vehicles that are outside of their dealership’s car line.
Now, the advantages of an independently-owned and –operated shop…
· Independent shops often an offer a lower per-hour rate for labor and better prices on replacement parts. Things like oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze and even shop towels tend to be more expensive at dealerships. It’s a bit like eating at a restaurant and then seeing separate charges for napkins and silverware on your check!
· Independent shops, by their nature, have to work on a wide range of makes and models, making them a better choice for tough repairs
· Independent shops have no motivation to groom you as a customer for a new-car sale
· Without the volume of work, time constraints, pressure and quotas that many dealerships have, the technicians in an independent shop tend to be more free to take their time and do a methodical, thorough diagnosis and repair
· While dealerships may have inside service information, any good shop that has certifications from ASE, ICAR, NAPA and ASP will have master automotive technicians who are up to speed on the latest advances in automotive technology
· Many independents are now offering comprehensive warranties for their service work, just like dealerships
· Independent shops usually tend to have lower overhead than dealerships; you’re not paying for the marble-tile floors and tinted glass that a dealership might have
· Often, dealerships won’t really want to work on an older vehicle (i.e. ten years old or older)
There’s one more thing, too.
A locally-owned, independently-operated auto repair shop is part of the community. That means engagement in what’s going on in your town, and relationships with customers that keeps people coming back again and again. In the end, the choice is yours…dealership or independent shop?
At Don Duncan’s All-American Auto & Tire in Montgomery, AL, we hope that you’ll come to us for your next auto repair job. We feel that we offer a level of care and integrity that you won’t find elsewhere…we’ll take our time to explain to you what needs to be done on your vehicle so that you’re completely informed from start to finish. No hidden charges, no exorbitant labor rates and even niceties like free Wi-Fi and a kids’ play area in our waiting room. We’ll pick up and deliver your vehicle if you need us to, and we’ll even vacuum the interior so it’s cleaner than when you dropped it off with us. We feel that these are the kinds of things that build lasting relationships, and that give us an edge in customer service. Next time you’re in need of auto repair or just routine maintenance…make an appointment with us at Don Duncan’s All American Automotive & Tire in Montgomery, AL.