Prestige Motor Care

Independents more cost effective than franchise outlets

Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire June 2015
Independent service outlets can provide a more price competitive offering to the same quality standards as their franchise counterparts, says Joe Bhamra, Commercial Director at Prestige Fleet Servicing

Ever since changes to the Block Exemption regulations over a decade ago levelled the playing field between franchise and independent service outlets, by stipulating that vehicles no longer needed to be maintained within the franchise network during the manufacturer's warranty period, the servicing game has changed.

Fleet managers, and other customers looking for the most competitive rates for SMR work, are no longer obligated to select only franchise dealers, safe in the knowledge that the manufacturer's warranty will not be invalidated, provided the work is carried out to prescribed schedules and parts used are of OE quality. There is no good reason not to look outside franchise networks - and plenty of benefits for those who do.

Typically, the biggest single advantage is cost - not just universally lower labour rates, but the overall price for the job. Research we've carried out at Prestige has shown that our independent outlets are anything up to 40% more cost effective across the board than franchise equivalents.

Independent labour rates are consistent regardless of the make or model being serviced and do not fluctuate between prestige and mainstream marques. This cost consistency is in contrast to the wide fluctuations across franchise outlets, most of which have to charge higher rates to recoup the much higher overall investment they have had to make on behalf of the manufacturer.

That's good news for fleet managers charged with running their fleets as cost effectively as possible without compromising on quality, professionalism or safety, as it gives them greater freedom of choice.

Another advantage of using independents is almost always the lead time to book in servicing work is shorter. Manufacturers have cut back on the numbers of dealer representation points within their franchise networks to increase vehicle sales potential per outlet, with a resultant reduction in service locations. Independents tend to be more flexible in booking lead times to accommodate fleet drivers and are almost always more locally placed for drivers.

One fear that fleet managers may have had in the past about using independents may have been that of quality control. But the best independent networks only partner with accredited service outlets which have been physically inspected prior to appointment to ensure that a number of prescribed quality standards have been met.

These quality audits are then carried out on an annual basis to ensure that the standards stipulated continue to be met and that customer satisfaction levels have been maintained.

For more details, see the Prestige Fleet Servicing website at: www.prestigefleetservicing.com

Notes to Editors

About Prestige Fleet Servicing
Prestige Car Servicing has been providing service, maintenance and repair facilities to the private motorist since 2005. In 2007, Prestige Fleet Servicing commenced trading by providing similar facilities to leasing companies, large corporates and SMEs using its independent network of Service Centres. Through the technical expertise and experience within these Centres, Prestige controls the costs of fleet vehicle maintenance programmes and delivers a class-leading driver experience to company car and business users. The business is further supported by its national parts and lubricants partnerships, all of which it brings together within its operating system, Unity. The system connects in real time, on-line to Prestige clients, Service Centres and partners.
Over recent years, Prestige has invested significant resources in the development of its systems' capabilities and people to support clients' requirements. The company works with many of the UK's largest leasing and fleet management businesses as they seek to develop further their control of service, maintenance and repair costs. Prestige has a highly experienced and motivated team of people. Its aim is to continue its business growth in the future, building on the success of the last five years, during which time the annual turnover has grown five-fold.

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Kevin Steve(left) and Tom (right)

Steve Lawrence(left) and Tom Dawson (right)