New data from the Castrol Professional Car Servicing & Repair Trend Tracker report shows that independent workshops and fast-fit outlets are retaining more servicing business than franchised workshops.

Data shows independents continuing to make year-on-year gains in their share of servicing, maintenance and repair work, while franchised workshops are losing out. The interim survey results for 2012, from January to August, indicate that independents and fast-fits captured 47.9 percent of servicing jobs, up from 44.7 per cent in 2011 and 31.8 per cent a decade ago. The data shows a consistent rise in independent sector servicing retention since 2006.

By contrast, franchised dealerships carried out just 24.6 per cent of servicing work during the first eight months of 2012, which was a 0.8 percentage point decline on 2011’s full-year figures. The latest results suggest that retention in the franchised sector is at its lowest level since 1998.

According to the data, 92.5 per cent of current franchised workshop customers plan to return to the workshop for servicing in future, naming the main reasons as technician expertise (36.5 per cent) and manufacturer car warranty (30.9 per cent). Those visiting independent outlets for servicing and maintenance named cost and value as the main influences behind their decision (42.8 per cent), followed by convenience (24.6 per cent).

Trend Tracker’s analyst Chris Oakham commented: “Franchised dealers are struggling to compete with a resurgent independent sector. While British consumers are currently bucking the European trend for rapidly-declining new car sales, franchised dealers are still suffering from a deficit in sales throughout the recession. Independents, meanwhile, are proving to be particularly successful at capturing market share in an ageing car parc.

“It seems that many new buyers are still under the impression that they must use a dealer to maintain their car warranty, possibly explaining the relatively low migration of customers from the franchised to independent sector. It could also be that these customers – conscious of the value of their car when purchased new – merely wish to maintain or improve the car’s residual value with a service book fully stamped by a franchised workshop.”

Nigel Head, Castrol Marketing Manager, UK & Ireland said: “With a car parc that isn’t due to expand significantly for a number of years, the onus will remain on workshops to drive dealership profitability. To build customer loyalty, all outlets need to better differentiate and articulate their servicing proposition to cost-conscious owners.”