I have just read an interesting article claiming that independent garages are better equipped to cope wth the effects of the recession than main franchised dealers.
According to Colin Bruder of Network Automotive, independent garages are more flexible and more likely to react to women drivers haggling for a lower price.
And if the business wants to introduce a discount to target a seasonal offer, for example, the Service Manager in a new car dealership is less likely to have the authority to do this whereas the independent garage is more likely to be run by the business owner who can make her/his mind up there and then.
I found this interesting for two reasons; firstly because the industry has been encouraged to work to a fixed price menu (what irony if they are now expected to better this…) and secondly I can’t think of a woman driver who would haggle in a garage with a fixed price – we’d rather shop around and then pick the best value deal based on a range of choices.
I don’t imagine that many female motorists will haggle in this situation, so perhaps Colin’s theory is based on male experience?
But I do agree that the independent garage is in a better situation to market/promote seasonal deals in the local media and online. I speak to many staff in main dealers, often part of a dealership group, who are not interested in any marketing opportunity that might work for them if it costs them money regardless of the outcome. Either they haven’t got the budget or the interest in doing something different even if this means scoring over their local competitors. It’s a form of blinkered complacency which is misplaced in a recession, especially when their neighbours are seeing the opportunity and grabbing it ahead of them.
I also know this is true because FOXY Choice subscribers are invited to make an offer to members of FOXY Lady Drivers Club and many more independents than franchised dealerships have taken this up.
Needless to say there is much that can be done rather than dropping the price – added value services can be marketed more effectively such as local car collection and delivery and a free wash and vac with every car servicing/repair. I have just been talking to Falkland Performance in Glenrothes and they have a deal with the local gym for their women drivers – that’s something different and to be celebrated.
I’d add to Colin’s theory that FOXY finds that flexibility is in the mind of the business owner and/or the Dealer Principal. Those who are fearful of the current climate and doing nothing are letting their competitors steal an advantage whereas those realists that know there will be a buoyant business tomorrow, are planning to be ahead of the game when tomorrow arrives. Good on the creative business thinkers – I wish them the success that will surely come their way!
And as I keep on saying, there is a place for independents and franchised dealerships to carry out MOT, car servicing and repair work because as long as the female customer has choice, she can choose which one she prefers based on her car, budget and expected service levels.
Long live both the independents and the franchised dealers and may competition prevail to keep prices down for all customers and add value for women drivers in particular.
“My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil.” JP Getty.