With hundreds of thousands of accidents, bumps and scrapes happening on Britain’s roads every year, car repair is a service that’ll always be very much in demand in the UK.
That’s not to say running an independent bodyshop is easy, however car repair is a low-margin, high-risk business, and small players in the market face heated competition from large dealer groups and dealerships with far more resources at their disposal to capture repair opportunities following accidents on the road.
One of the key areas where bodyshops struggle is offering a great customer experience. While many drivers prefer to use independent bodyshops for a more personal service, the reality is that dealerships often beat them when it comes to convenience - specifically in the form of value-add services such as courtesy cars.
For a small car repair business, it’s not always easy to put every customer in a courtesy car while their own vehicle is in the shop. The cost of doing so, combined with the risk of damage or theft, is too high in many circumstances for this to be an option. This puts them at a serious disadvantage when it comes to winning repeat business from motorists who really can’t afford to be without a means of transport during a repair job.
So how can independent bodyshops reduce this cost and improve their customer experience? Here are some possible answers.
1. Use in-vehicle devices to reduce the risk
For obvious reasons, letting a customer drive a courtesy car while their own vehicle is in the shop - potentially for a long period of time – can be a high-risk proposition. The car could be damaged through poor driving, vandalised or even stolen. With little insight into how the customer will use the vehicle, bodyshops face high insurance rates on their courtesy car fleet or the risk of utilising their own motor trader policy, which often has large excess limits.
The use of telematics can help reduce this risk. Firstly, by just making sure the customer is aware, which can reduce the likelihood of abuse immediately. But also by giving bodyshops and their insurers real-time information on vehicle location, time on the road, driver behaviour and more, if necessary a gentle reminder can be given quickly and easily. By extension, it can help a small business get more favourable day insurance rates than if they had no such visibility.
That said, bodyshops should choose their fleet telematics solutions carefully. Some are complex to use and require a lot of hands-on monitoring and analysis. To avoid the extra resource burden, bodyshops should look for proactive solutions that help them - and their insurers - draw value from their telematics data.
2. Reduce the admin burden
Even outside of insurance rates and the risk of damage or theft, managing a fleet of cars is costly for a bodyshop because of the admin involved. Not only do they need to ensure the vehicles themselves are managed and maintained for maximum utilisation and return on investment, but also keep on top of insurance, driver credentials, licensing, and more.
All of this takes time, making it more difficult for bodyshops to focus on what they do best: repairing cars.
The use of intelligent fleet management software can help reduce this burden, while still meeting customer expectations for a quick turnaround on a replacement vehicle so they can resume driving with minimal fuss. Even for a bodyshop with a small number of cars to track, fleet management software can deliver more efficient scheduling and cost reporting, automated licence checks, and much more.
In today’s competitive landscape, it’s essential that independent bodyshops offer not only the best possible service but also a comparable level of convenience to their larger counterparts. A cost-effective courtesy car service, underpinned by innovative tech solutions, is one way they can deliver that.