Independent shops vs. Dealerships?

It’s the age old debate: Why should I use an Independent Repair Shop instead of the Dealership. There are ALOT of arguments for both sides, but I will give you insight on my 30 plus years of experiences and you can decide for yourself. Here are some of the misconceptions and truths all listed in one article. Get comfy, grab a coffee or drink of choice and let me inform you!

#1 Dealership Technicians are better trained: Half Truth. While the dealership technicians have greater access to information and parts their RESPECTIVE makes, that does not make them better Techs. Dealers usually employ ONE experienced Lead Tech while most of the team is “new to the industry” lower level/ lower paid techs. Dealerships follow a strict “Bottom Line” Policy. Which may sound confusing since their Hourly Labor Rate is predominately higher than Indys. They can say all they want about “Service over Profit” in their ads, but it really is profit driven. I’ve hired former dealer techs and managers who have told me once a Tech gets trained and gets some seniority, seeks required commensurate pay, they are forced out for sake of bottom line. It may sound like sour grapes, but I’ve heard this too many times to not feel there’s some validity to this.

#2 Dealership OEM parts are better: Also half truth. While some parts are strictly proprietary to makes and models, I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been at Dealers Parts Counters picking up parts and the SAME local parts jobbers are delivering the SAME parts that we would get! You can look at this in different ways. a) It may have been an availability issue in which they needed to get the vehicle done or: b) I’ve heard it before from former dealer managers; the aftermarket parts are considerably cheaper therefore increasing the profit margin. That is OK in the respect that many aftermarket parts nowadays are comparable in quality and we are here to make a living. The problem for me is that if you’re expecting (and paying for) apples and you’re getting oranges, you could have received the same (if not better) service without paying the higher price! It’s all about VALUE, folks! Remember, Dealership Technicians and Managers work on parts and labor quotas because the overhead is so high. THEY need X number of dollars per day, whether you do or not. We need money, too, but Indy shops mostly utilize the “volume of vehicles we service” through Customer Service and Loyalty practices to meet our overhead needs.

#3 FREE Oil changes and inspections! Not gonna happen. What’s going to happen is that you waltz in for your FREE oil change service and you limp out feeling like you just got a colonoscopy without anesthesia. It’s a FACT that we all do this for a living and giving away free stuff is not sustainable in any industry. There is a give/take in this business practice that I feel is very misleading and sometimes unscrupulous. I won’t subscribe to that. If I want to do something for nothing for the sake of customer service , that’s on me, not you. There is NOOO way that anybody can consistently give you Free service and stay in business. They HAVE to sell you something.That’s just how it is. For instance; BMW offered FREE oil changes for life in models years ago and the recommended service interval was 6000 miles. They were giving away so many oil changes, they changed the service interval to 14,000 miles! Does that make sense? The engine didn’t change, so why extend the mileage service to more than double? It was all because they lost a ton of money at the 6000 and cut the losses at 14,000, plus increasing the likelihood of finding more repairs at 14,000. All fine. Makes business sense, but not very customer-friendly. But if you’re not familiar with the backstory, doesn’t it sound deceptive? It’s because it is. It’s all about TRUST AND VALUE!  TRUST AND VALUE!



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