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Customers Rate Independent Shops Above Dealers

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Feb. 21, 2019—Consumers prefer taking their vehicles to independent repair shops over dealerships, a 2018 survey by Consumer Reports found. The survey measured consumers who had their vehicles repaired from Spring of 2017 to Spring of 2018.

The survey measured factors involved in the experience including timeliness, courtesy, price, and quality, according to Patrick Olsen, auto editor for Consumer Reports. In addition, consumers were asked about repair costs, negotiating a discount, and reasons for choosing a repair shop, Olsen said.

The survey revealed that consumers rated the independent retailer higher than dealerships. Consumers generally rated dealerships prices with “fair” and “poor,” while the independent repairer was rated as “excellent.”

“The biggest differentiator is price,” Olsen said. “People believe they get a much better deal at independent and chain repair shops than they do at dealerships.”

Auto repair shops were recognized for their honesty among customers, the survey revealed, as well as listed reasons why consumers tend to come back and visit independent shops.

“In our survey, good work was measured by whether the repair was done right the first time—a straightforward metric,” Olsen said. “Fair price can be equal parts reasonable charges for local market and clearly explaining what work will be performed, the quality of parts, and the importance of the repair. Fair business practices and clear, honest communication go a long way.”


“The survey revealed that a positive prior experience is by far the most significant reason to choose a shop (40 percent), trumping convenient location (24 percent) and price (10 percent), among many other factors. The least significant factor was sales, discounts, and rewards programs.”

For those who are looking to bring in more consumers, Olsen said there are a few options to look into.

“Our survey shows that quality work—repair done right the first time, courtesy, and timeliness—work completed as promised—have a significant impact on overall satisfaction,” Olsen said.

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