A recent survey by The Motor Ombudsman has revealed that rising operational costs, taxes and energy bills are set to be the biggest challenge facing UK vehicle repair businesses this year.
75% of service and repair companies surveyed said these increasing overheads will be their most significant hurdle in 2024. This was followed by having to pay more for spare parts (58%) and recruiting enough qualified technicians (58%).
With repairers facing higher bills, over half said they may have to raise their prices to remain viable. This could deter some cash-strapped motorists from getting essential work done or even routine maintenance. Last year, 53% of repairers saw customers avoiding bring their car in to save money amid the cost of living crisis.
The technician recruitment issue seems to be worsening too. 56% struggled to hire skilled mechanics in 2023, but this year 58% foresee it being a problem. Qualified staff remains highly sought-after.
More electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads with fewer mechanical parts to repair was also seen as an issue by 26% of respondents. However, this has fallen from 32% last year, suggesting repairers are adapting to embrace new technologies and revenue opportunities.
In better news, over half plan to invest in recruitment this year to expand their workforce. Over a third will look to spruce up their premises to improve the customer experience. A fifth intends to add more workshop space and EV charging points.
Accreditation from The Motor Ombudsman can help repairers showcase their commitment to high standards and reassure customers. There’s also free dispute resolution support available. This will continue to give garages a vital competitive edge in 2024.
Rising overheads look set to put vehicle repairers under significant pressure. But with careful business planning and by trumpeting their dedication to quality, they can demonstrate why motorists should continue to trust them with the maintenance of their vehicles during turbulent economic times.