Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2010   by Auto Service World

J.D. Power Reports Decline in Routine Maintenance by Canadians

Certigard Tops Customer Satisfaction Rankings

Consumer-reported average annual expenditures on vehicle maintenance and repair services decreased to $9.8 billion in 2010 from $11.2 billion in 2009, largely due to a significant decline in routine maintenance spending among owners of four-to seven-year-old vehicles, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study.

The study found that the decrease stems from two main issues: a decline in the average amount spent per service visit, and a decrease in the overall number of service visits, particularly for vehicles between four and seven model-years old. Per-service visit spending averaged $287 in the 2010 study year, compared with $352 in 2009–a decline of $65.

The 2010 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study is based on responses from more than 14,500 owners in Canada whose vehicles are between three and 12 years old. The study was fielded between January and February 2010 and June and July 2010.

While revenue from repair work has remained stable from 2009, revenue from routine maintenance has declined considerably in the 2010 study year.

“Stagnant economic conditions may be one reason owners might postpone expenditures, including routine vehicle maintenance,” says Ryan Robinson, director of the Canadian automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “There are also other factors contributing to this decline, including longer manufacturer-recommended service intervals, improved vehicle reliability, and a slight decline in the average age of the three-to 12-year-old vehicle fleet, due to strong new-vehicle sales during the 2006 and 2007 calendar years. It seems Canadian vehicle owners are becoming comfortable with the notion that they don’t need to do as much to maintain their vehicles as they once did.”

Customer Satisfaction Rankings

The study provides a measure of the service behaviours, satisfaction, and loyalty of owners of three-to 12-year-old vehicles. Overall customer satisfaction is determined by examining five key factors of the service experience: the process of getting the vehicle in for service; service advisor performance; service facility; quality of work performed; and the process of vehicle return/pick-up. The study examines customer satisfaction with both new car dealerships and aftermarket facilities.

Certigard (Petro-Canada) ranks highest in satisfying automotive service customers in Canada, receiving an overall index score of 869 on a 1,000-point scale. Rounding out the top five ranked brands are Goodyear Auto Centers (838); Jiffy Lube (835); OK Tire (832); and NAPA Autopro (831).

The study finds that fostering high levels of customer satisfaction with maintenance and repair service has a strong positive effect on loyalty intent.

Among customers of brands with the highest levels of overall satisfaction, nearly 80% indicate they “definitely will” return to the service facility for work they will pay for (i. e., outside the scope of their vehicle warranty).

In contrast, among cus-tomers of less-satisfying brands, only 45% say the same.

Furthermore, among customers who rate their overall service experience as “outstanding” (providing a rating of 10 on a 10-point scale) a vast majority–approximately nine in 10–indicate they will return to the same facility for their next service visit. Loyalty rates decline notably as satisfaction decreases–for example, approximately one-half of customers who provide a rating of 8 on a 10-point scale say that they will return to the facility.

“High-performing brands enjoy nearly twice the rate of customer retention than the industry average,” says Robinson. “Given the degree of hyper-competition for vehicle maintenance and repair business in Canada–with more than 40 branded networks competing, in addition to thousands of independent providers–the business case for an individual service facility to improve the customer experience is compelling. Considering that service expenditures average $287 per visit, the revenue and profit enhancement from increased retention is significant.”

The study also finds that educating service customers about future vehicle maintenance and repair needs positively impacts both loyalty intent and the amount customers spend per visit. Among vehicle owners who indicate that their service advisor discussed other service work their vehicle may require in the future, 65% said they “definitely will” return to that facility for their next service visit. However, among customers whose service advisors did not mention future service needs, only 47% indicated they “definitely will” return.