Can manufacturers compete with fast-fits?

Trend Tracker, formed in 2003 to provide accurate and informed automotive industry research, calculates the retail service, maintenance and repair market’s worth has risen by almost £1 billion since the 2008 recession. This is inevitably resulting in greater interest in the segment, which is increasing the desire of vehicle manufacturers (VMs) to compete for this business. AMOnline has recently reported on the efforts of some car manufacturers to take a bigger slice of that market, giving a synopsis of what measures various VMs are taking.

MasterFit is the brand-specific value service arm of the Vauxhall network, with more than 380 sites nationwide. All work is carried out by Vauxhall-trained technicians, using genuine parts.

MasterFit claims the market is changing and has already begun to review the best ways to tackle the independent/fast-fit segment. It has introduced value programmes such as Vauxhall Service Club, which gives drivers up to 25 per cent off servicing and repairs. This has doubled up as a loyalty tool and has almost 300,000 members. It also makes tactical offers, such as fixed-price servicing.

It is part of Volkswagen’s strategy to eventually have an Express Fit in every retailer and authorised repairer. It’s designed to focus predominantly on Volkswagen cars requiring repairs that take less than an hour. No appointment is needed and the work is generally done while you wait, covering things such as lubrication, batteries, exhausts, brakes and shocks.

Volkswagen believes having highly qualified staff using its latest diagnostic technology, strong fixed price servicing offers, price match and service plans, is enough to compete with independents and fast-fit centres.

There are three standalone Renault Minute sites in the UK. Renault Minute is for all makes of vehicle and was an opt-in for dealers when deployed.

Renault claims the best way to compete with fast-fits is with service offer pricing and high quality of service. Benefits for the consumer include full vehicle health checks, fixed prices on service and maintenance, vehicles returned washed and clean, and all   repairs benefit from a one-year guarantee on parts and labour.

It offers genuine Renault parts, as well as Motrio ‘equivalent quality’ parts, which give Renault dealers the ability to service and maintain most major brands.

The brand-specific Citroën Service Racing operates in 16 sites and is being introduced into others to provide nationwide coverage. It offers price match, fixed-price servicing, and offers on parts, such as brakes and clutches. Prices are advertised nationally.

Ford is implementing plans to transform the Rapid Fit service into a more improved service called QuickLane. There is currently no fixed date for Rapid Fit to cease operations. Since its creation in 1992, Rapid Fit has delivered supplemental business rather than substituting that of Ford Service. There are 190 UK sites operating the Rapid Fit service.

Rapid Fit offers fixed prices, quoted in advance; no-appointment, while-you-wait service; longer opening hours and the ability to have direct contact with the technician. Weekend opening is at the dealer’s discretion.

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