Future won’t be bright for all garages, warns Independent Garage Association

IGA CEO Stuart James stressed the importance of attracting young people to the automotive sector

Future won’t be bright for all garages, warns Independent Garage Association
Stuart James of the Independent Garage Association speaking at Automechanika Birmingham's Garage of the Year awards last week.

The UK’s independent garage sector is thriving despite increasing costs and the complexities of new vehicle technology, the Independent Garage Association (IGA) has said but warns that garages must continue investing in tools, training and equipment for a chance to succeed.

Speaking at the Garage of the Year awards evening held at the National Motorcycle Museum last week, Stuart James, director of the IGA said: “Nobody can form the relationships with their customers in the way independents do and nobody can repair such a wide variety of vehicles the way an independent does on a daily basis.”

“Not to say independents are having an easy time”

Independents account for 83 per cent of all garage businesses in the UK, according to the IGA, but “that’s not to say independents are having an easy time of it”, Stuart added during his speech.

Among the challenges faced by garage owners, according to the IGA, is a rise in the number of online work provider websites.

Stuart said: “We consider these disruptors a significant threat to the identity, and in some cases, the reputation of good independent garages and we will continue to monitor and report on their activity.

“The long-term threat to the independent sector is not in accessing the information to service and repair a car, as is commonly perceived.

“Certainly, it’s a challenge but not a threat.

Access to customers

“The threat is in not being able to access the customer.

“This is about vehicle manufacturers exploiting their privileged position in order to influence and limit consumer choice, and also, perhaps closer to home for independents, the disruptors exploiting their internet presence to take money from both consumers and garages, once again by influencing consumer choice.”

In a bid to “turn the tide”, the IGA recently launched a national TV campaign for Trust My Garage.

Garage staffing issues

A recent IGA member survey found that the biggest issue face by garages is sourcing and retaining skilled, competent staff.

Stuart said: “Such a chronic shortage of skilled, competent, technicians is indicative of years of ignorance in political and educational circles; ignorance that encouraged, and even drove, generations of young adults down a route to further education, to the detriment of the vital craft skills that this great country of ours was built on.

“The inevitability of Brexit has seen the numbers of migrant workers decrease, as many are leaving the UK for more secure environments.

Apprenticeships

“So, I urge you, now is the time to consider growing your own; breathing new life into the industry by taking on an apprentice.

“The new three-year apprenticeship standard is now settled in and apprentices will not achieve the qualification until they are proven to be competent.

“To ensure the long-term future, it is beholden on all of us that have earned a living in this industry to change the public’s perceptions of the sector.

“We need to highlight the high-tech nature of the modern motor vehicle, and show that we can provide a clear path to those looking to advance their career; those future technicians that have a passion for fixing things, because that’s what brought most of us into this sector in the first place.

 “The future won’t be bright for all garages, but for those garages that choose to engage, garages that care about the future and invest in tools, training and equipment, garages like the ones that we are recognising here today, there is a very bright future ahead.”

The Automechanika Garage of the Year Awards took place on Wednesday 5th June 2019 at the National Motorcycle museum.

To learn more about the IGA, follow the ‘more details’ link.

Home Page Forums Future won’t be bright for all garages, warns Independent Garage Association

This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Stephen 6 days, 17 hours ago.

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  • #179698 Reply

    Peter Miles

    I totally agree with this said about “work provider websites”. I think we all need to ask ourselves how independent is your independent garage when it relies on a third party with no interest in how your business is doing to provide a major part of your work?
    In my view all they do is make you bid (as low as possible!) for work and then charge you on top as well!

    #179699 Reply

    anthony roe

    yes but all independents need to stick together i do not mean be partners but refuse to join their networks so they have no choice but to fold because these third party website are all set up to make more money than the garage that has all the over heads of running a business etc etc we do all the hard work and have all the pressure of high rents and other high other heads business rates etc and there making sometimes 100.00 pounds on a job that has been passed to the independent garage just to answer a email and there sitting in a 5ft by 5ft office that is very cheap to rent and they are making more money than the garage doing the work is making so how can that be the likes of servicing stop , click mechanic and all those out there need bombing out but until us independents refuse to work with them its only going to damage independent more better to spend on your own marketing which is what we are doing we have tried third party websites and soon realized that you are just a busy fool making money for other people.

    #179700 Reply

    Stephen

    We do not use these work providers and never will! Our reputation has been built on honesty and integrity. We are now getting our customers children as new customers.
    I knew years ago that this industry was going downhill as the Governments killed off training and main dealers were training ‘In house’ and vehicle specific.
    We struggled to find decent technicians, found a few google/you tube ones who soon departed once they were found out. I have taken on several apprentices in the past and most of them were not at all interested in learning. We have found two who are keen and I believe will be competent.
    We also invest in equipment to try and stay ahead of the game, it’s getting quite expensive though, but needs must.

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