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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Garages Urged to Rethink How They Price Work

Date: Monday 26 February 2024

Andy Savva, The Garage Inspector, has urged garage owners to challenge outdated pricing strategies which pull work in on price and do nothing for customer relationships – or the garage’s bottom line.

His advice on the simple steps garages can take to turn things around are revealed on the latest episode of Tea Break Talk, the video podcast that helps busy garage owners maximise their workshop’s efficiency, profitability, and long-term success.

He said: “Fifty years ago we worked transactionally. It was thought the way to get customers through the door was to advertise a lower price than the garage down the road. The business barely made a profit because its hourly rate was a guess, rather than a calculation of what it needed to charge to open the doors every morning.

“Incredibly, 80 percent of the garages I physically visit these days still operate in the same way. They’re barely surviving because their mindset is focused on transactional marketing and not relationship marketing. Everything should be about the relationship with the customer.

“Moving away from being transaction focussed and knowing what to charge to cover the overheads is just the first step. It’s crucial to then demonstrate visibly, through customer service, a website and marketing, why the garage is charging a fair price.

“To do this, a shift is needed where business assets – whether they be a website, machinery, or tools – are treated as investments and not costs. They’re not a cost. They’re fundamental elements of a successful garage business.

“Basically, if you don’t have a website company that really understands the ethos of an independent garage business, or a selective group of suppliers for tools and parts, then the workday is going to be harder than it needs to be.”

Jim Lang, podcast host and website expert from Garage Services Online, agrees.

He said: “Andy is absolutely right. Garages need to be allocating a budget for marketing. This should cover the website and things like branded clothing and professional signage.

“And when a garage is marketed professionally, it makes a huge difference to how customers view it.

“From their first impression of the business online via its website, to the reception area and all the customer touch points, they all contribute to the customer experience. The garage is then able to charge the correct rate because the customer sees the value.”