Auto Service World
News   May 3, 2022   by Adam Malik

Why Canadians choose dealers over independents

More Canadian vehicle owners choose to only go to dealerships for maintenance and repair needs than those who only choose to visit an independent shop, a new industry survey has found.

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada releases a report last week on what drives some owners to visit dealerships while others choose independent shops.

Dealership vs. Independent: How Canadian Vehicle Owners Choose a Service Provider found that 26 per cent of Canadians will always go to a dealership while 22 per cent would only visit an independent shop. In the middle, 53 per cent said they use both.

The survey reached out to 2,000 Canadians in June 2021.

The report found that 9 per cent of Canadians do all maintenance and repair themselves or have someone close to them do it for them. But 36 per cent said they do at least some and have a professional do the rest. More than half (54 per cent) have an automotive service professional do all of their work.

The most common DIY work are tires (changing or checking pressure) at 42 per cent of respondents, changing oil (36 per cent) and brake systems (19 per cent).

When it comes time to change ASPs, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) listed someone recommended to them as a top priority. Close behind was price (61 per cent) and a place close to where they live or work (59 per cent).

Almost two-in-five Canadians (38 per cent) believe dealership technicians are better trained than those in an independent shop. Furthermore, 31 per cent believe their vehicle’s warranty would be void by vising an independent shop. Another third (32 per cent) feel overwhelmed when bringing their vehicle in for service.

Those who only choose an independent shop said they do so because they feel they are getting a better deal or a more fair price (39 per cent) and that they are cheaper than a dealer (25 per cent). One in five cited trustworthy or reliable service from an independent.

People choose to visit the dealer because their vehicle is still under warranty (25 per cent), feel it’s more trustworthy or reliable (23 per cent) or they believe the dealer is more knowledgeable (14 per cent).

For those who choose both options, they pick an independent for specific repairs (49 per cent), noting oil changes and tire work as top reasons. Canadians choose a dealer also for specific repairs (29 per cent) but with engine issues/repairs at the top of the list, along with oil changes.

When respondents were asked about key performance metrics, value for money received the top score for independent shops. Cleanliness was the top-ranking category for dealers. Other areas where respondents scored dealers better were in parts quality, pro-active notifications and length of warranty. Independents ranked higher in being trustworthy.

Customers said shops can gain more trust from customers if they had the same technician always working on their vehicle, explaining the importance of maintenance and repair and helped them plan for short- and long-term service needs.

The full report with detailed breakdowns is free to AIA member and $199 for non-members.


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1 Comment » for Why Canadians choose dealers over independents
  1. Bob Ward says:

    Have you ever tried to talk with someone at a dealership? Wading through the phone system is frustrating to say the least. Then you will have to leave a message for someone to return your call. Good luck with getting a timely reply. Independents have people who actually answer the phone and address the customer’s concerns right away. This in itself is a powerful plus for us.

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