IGA to investigate consumer reference sites

Independent Garage Association

If you run an MOT business you will over the last couple of years have been bombarded with e-mails from consumer internet reference sites offering to get you sales leads for MOTs and repair work.

Of course they will skim off some of your margin, but it can be very enticing – who wouldn’t want an extra 20 or more MOTs and repair customers every week?

Yet our editor’s experience of trialling such sites raises questions.

Firstly, it is often something of a ‘dutch auction’, the work going to the cheapest bidder. And when there’s an ‘autoquote’ facility – it can be set to offer a low price to get the work, the customer is then up-sold extra work later, so businesses honestly quoting will lose out. Posing as a consumer was enlightening. Some quotes were farcically low, obviously aimed at enticing the customer in.

So the IGA are investigating these sites to see if they add value for consumers, or simply have a parasitic affect on the market by artificially reducing independent businesses’ margins by skimming off their cut – and customers don’t actually gain a benefit.

Stuart James, IGA Director explained why this is important, “Independents excel at forming lasting relationships with their customers, and provide a quality service at a fair price”. Which is true, research has shown that the independent garage sector has a more positive customer loyalty than almost any other retail sector. James also noted, “The IGA believes the garage must always retain its true identity in order to protect the unique benefits independents provide”, adding, “An open and transparent report will be created highlighting the working practices of these work providers.”

At MOT Testing we welcome this initiative by the Independent Garage Association – and look forward to finding out what they discover.

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