Time to Heed the Wake-Up Call
With so much to gain, why is the service and repair industry not heeding the wake up call asks Beissbarth UK’s managing director Phillip Hodges. “This is the last chance saloon for those in the industry who are plainly not up to the job, and giving competent operators a bad name, “ added Mr Hodges. If the industry cannot regulate itself then government will do it and the smaller firms will sink without trace under the weight of the subsequent red tape. This is the final wake up call.”
Mr Hodges cites a litany of damning consumer research reports ignored by the industry, compounded by threats from the National Consumer Council (NCC) to make a super complaint’ about the service and repair sector to government ministers, which could result in an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.
A recently published discussion paper by the NCC titled ‘At a Crossroads’ which examines the breadth and cause of consumer dissatisfaction in the car service and repair sector, has recommended the introduction of a system to license technicians and repair outlets. Research reveals that ‘rip off’ repairers are costing consumers around £4 billion a year.
In response to the NCC report, a consortium made up of motor manufacturers and repair garages is launching a new quality standard brand to counter the ‘cowboy’ operators. It is hoped that Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) will become a byword for competence and quality of service. Once technicians have achieved ATA accreditation they will be reassessed every five years.
The initiative is backed by the Department of Trade and Industry, Which? and the Trading Standards Institute. “Excellent idea,” adds Mr Hodges, “investing in human resources is a sound move. Skills deficits are a key factor in the industry’s malaise but another symptom is chronic under-investment in technology. This is a knowledge-based economy characterised by cutting edge technology yet hundreds of operators are still in the dark ages. To those garages and workshops my advice is you’re operating on borrowed time. If you think the cost of investing in technology is expensive – the bill for under-investment has just arrived on the doormat.”