Auto Service World
News   March 12, 2024   by Adam Malik

From the Magazine: Introducing the CARS Executive Outlook 2024

Mechanical repair leaders paint a picture of the year ahead for repair shops in Canada

Could this be a defining year for auto repair shops? After some interesting times over the last few years, reading between the lines of the thoughts of mechanical repair leaders, the actions shop owners take in 2024 could be the moves that set them up for success or left behind in a world that is stuck in its old ways.

There is much change ahead, these leaders say; to stay stagnant would appear to be an error in judgment. The auto repair market will continue to see alterations in the way consumers behave. As new vehicle prices continue to rise in Canada — to an average transaction price of nearly $53,000, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants — how will consumers react?

Some may shy away from driving to avoid vehicle wear and tear. However, more affluent Canadians may be using their vehicles more as they typically have jobs that allow them to work remotely. All data indicate that drivers are getting behind the wheel as often or more than pre-pandemic. The belief is that those working remotely are taking advantage of their ability to work from anywhere and hitting the road for extended weekends, flipping open their laptops in hotel rooms and spare bedrooms to deal with their work by day and enjoy their getaway by night.

That means you’re getting different customers to serve — if more affluent people are driving more, then that’s the clientele you’re more likely to see in your shop.

“It changes how you go to market as a brand or as a retailer,” advised Nathan Shipley, executive director of automotive industry analysis at market research firm Circana at AAPEX in the fall.

So that means offering them services to attract them to your shop. Think of the customer-facing technology you could be offering. To play off a famous quote, shops need to be where their customers are — and that’s online.

As you flip through the next few pages, you’ll read the many thoughts of those who specialize in the auto care sector. They were asked about the opportunities out there for shops, challenges and opportunities.

Talent was noted as a common issue. It remains as a top challenge for shops to overcome.

They touch on the need to future-proof your business and implementing technology in your shop. Owners will have competitors who will choose to not do this — that’s money being left on the table for the forward-thinkers to grab. Consumer expectations have changed and so this industry must adapt along with it. Forcing them to be where you are rather than moving to where they want to be is a strategy that can lead to failure, these leaders warned. It’s all about finding that competitive edge.

In alphabetical order over the coming weeks, we’ll present the analysis they provided in the January/February 2024 issue of CARS.

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