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Dealers losing service customers to independents: study

May 11, 2012
Service customers at auto dealerships are intensely loyal, but they also are older and spend less than customers of independent shops and chains, according to a study commissioned by the marketing firm, DMEautomotiveService.
Customers who spend the bulk of their service dollars at the dealership are more than twice as likely to be 55 years old or older than are people who typically get service at independent garages and service chains, the survey found.
Many independent garages specialize in older vehicles, which frequently need more repairs than new vehicles and whose owners are typically younger than new car buyers.
The survey of 4,000 random adults who had vehicles serviced in 2011 also looked at average annual spending by customers who were highly loyal to dealerships, independent garages or service chains.
While average total dollar amounts were within $100 of each other, on average, customers spent less on dealership repairs:
• Independent garages, $1,191;
• Service chains, $1,178;
• Dealerships, $1,105.
The challenge for dealers is finding ways to convince younger car owners to use dealership service departments for repairs on older vehicles, in addition to new vehicles.