Costs tops parts as primary challenge

Increasing operational costs is the biggest concern for 79% of independent repairers and dealer workshops, ahead of disruption to the supply chain.

This is according to a poll by The Motor Ombudsman.

It found that the same proportion of respondents also stated that their bottom line had been particularly affected by the significant jump in energy and fuel prices, which continue to climb to record highs.

Delays getting hold of replacement parts were cited as the second largest obstacle for garages and workshops, negatively impacting around three quarters (72%) of businesses sector.

Furthermore, 71% of garages and workshops reported they had seen motorists reduce their spending on ad hoc and routine vehicle maintenance and repairs when compared to the first six months of last year.

When it came to vehicle maintenance, 91% said that motorists had cut back on taking their car in for its annual service while over half of businesses (58%) said that demand had dropped for the topping-up of fluids, such as oil and air conditioning coolant, with 55% reporting a fall in bookings for the replacement of wear and tear components, namely tyres, brake discs and wiper blades.

The survey also found that 63% said that they would be looking to increase prices to remain profitable in the face of higher overheads, while 40% of businesses said they would be raising salaries during the next six months to help team members cope with the hike in the cost of living.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Our research has shown that garages and workshops in the service and repair sector have had to manage a multitude of financial and economic challenges so far this year.

“With the outlook for the next six months continuing to look difficult, it is unsurprising that service and repair business owners are looking to raise prices to maintain profitability and support staff salaries. This of course all comes during a period when households, which are already under a financial strain, are set to experience even greater pressure from increasing energy costs before year-end, with vehicle maintenance, as shown in our March survey, taking even more of a back seat for many.”