Auto Service World
News   August 30, 2011   by Auto Service World

Owners Report Spending Less on Vehicle Maintenance; Autopro Tops Satisfaction List

Reflecting continued sluggishness within the automotive market in Canada, owner-reported annual spending on vehicle maintenance has declined from 2010, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study released today.
The annual service market for four-to 12 year-old vehicles has contracted to $8.4 billion in 2011 from $9.0 billion in 2010, largely brought on by decreased average annual service spending.
This decrease stems from both a decline in the average amount spent per service visit and the number of service visits. Overall, the number of service visits has decreased by nine per cent (2.9 visits per vehicle in 2011, on average, vs. 3.2 visits per vehicle in 2010). In addition, annual spending across all vehicle ages has declined by an average of $23, with the largest change seen among eight- to 12-year-old vehicles.
Average annual expenditures among this vehicle group declines to $736 in 2011 from $821 in 2010.
“Study data suggests owners of older vehicles continue to de-prioritize maintenance and repair spending in the face of uncertain economic conditions,” said Ryan Robinson, director of the Canadian automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “This is creating an increasingly competitive environment for automotive service brands as they fight for share in a contracting market.”
The study provides a measure of the service behaviours, satisfaction and loyalty of owners of four- to 12-year-old vehicles. Overall customer satisfaction is determined by examining five key factors of the service experience: 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 after-market facilities.

Service Provider Rankings
Consumers ranked perennial contender NAPA Autopro as highest in satisfying automotive service customers in Canada, receiving an overall index score of 875 on a 1,000-point scale. Rounding out the top five ranked brands are Great Canadian Oil Change (864); Pennzoil (845); Goodyear Auto Service Centre (842); and Midas (836).
Importantly, however, the Petro-Canada Certi-gard chain–which has ranked at the top of satisfaction ratings in past years and nearly always been near the top–was not included this time around due to the small sample size of respondent who used their facilities.
In addition, aftermarket independent service outlets in aggregate, had a score of 863, which would have placed them third in the ranking but are not included as they represent a channel rather than a brand.
The study finds that owners of vehicles that are eight to 12 years old are more likely to visit an aftermarket facility for service, rather than a dealership. Owners of eight-to 12 year-old vehicles indicate a number of advantages to visiting an aftermarket facility, rather than a dealership, specifically when examining the most recent service visit:
• Once owners arrived at a dealership, 39 per cent indicate they were attended to immediately. Among customers who visit an aftermarket facility, 58 per cent say they received immediate attention.
• Eighty per cent of owners who visit the dealer say the service advisor put them at ease. This figure is slightly higher among visitors at aftermarket facilities-85 per cent.
• Seventy-three per cent of visitors to aftermarket facilities say the advisor provided helpful advice. Among visitors to dealerships, only 66 per cent say the same.
“The real battleground in the automotive industry lies in gaining share of service revenue,” said Robinson. “Aftermarket facilities seem to be beating dealerships at their own game. Customer retention rates are significantly higher-nine percentage points, on average-among users of aftermarket facilities, compared with those who visited dealerships for their two most recent service visits. Considering all of the vehicles currently on the road, this represents a gap of $700 million that dealers will no doubt strive to retain. Dealerships that provide excellent customer service along with high-quality repair and maintenance work will have an edge.”
The 2011 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study is based on responses from more than 19,500 owners in Canada whose vehicles are between four and 12 years old. The study was fielded between January and February 2011 and June and July 2011.