The conventional knowledge is that – a) Dealership workshops are the best b) Road side workshops with low overheads are the cheapest c) Online aggregators are quite affordable for car services d) Good Multi-brand service centres are not tried and tested. Let’s explore together the accuracy of this perception and check if these hold any firm ground.
A. Dealership Workshops
These service centres are commonly known as “Dealership Workshop” as they are approved by manufacturer for servicing that particular brand of vehicles.
- They have well established processes to follow while handling vehicles
- The technicians are trained
- Technical help from the manufacturer is available as and when required
- Warranty works are entertained
- Undue advantages are taken in the name of authorized Service Center
- Mandatory replacement of spare parts in service, though all parts may not be required
- Mandatory Wheel Alignment and Balancing in every service. It begs the question as to how one can precisely tell that vehicle needs alignment and balancing without checking tyre visually or without going on a road test or by physically putting the vehicle on alignment machine or tyre balancer?
- Consumable amount is added in invoice, though periodic maintenance labour charge includes consumable charges as per manufacturer.
- Over and above adding consumable amount in invoice, additional amount is charged in invoice for Parts & Lubes like – rust spray, grease, brake cleaning spray etc. whereas these charges are included in PMS labour charges as per OEM directives.
- Unwanted Value-Added Services promotion, though not recommended by manufacturer.
- Unwanted seasonal repair promotions (examples: A/C Overhauling in Summer, Heaters & Battery promotion in Winter, Wiper blades, Tyres, Defogger repairs etc in Rainy season)
- Washing charges are levied, though it’s included in the periodic maintenance charges as per manufacturer.
B. Unorganized Local Garages
The reality of most, but not all, of these road side garages, also known as unstructured multi-brand centers, is that it is run by individuals who enter into automobile field at a very early age as helpers and get some kind of practical training on mechanical or electrical work. They come together and collect some funds from near and dear ones and open barely equipped, bare-minimum makeshift car garages. Such places do not have any kind of certifications or license from any government body to operate a workshop and since the overheads are very less, they offer services at a very cheap rate but at the cost of quality and safety.
- Overheads are less, hence service rates are very less
- Mechanical and Electrical labour charges can be negotiated
- They lack the skill matrix and expertise to handle different jobs. If a vehicle is stuck up for diagnosing then N number of people are called in to check and diagnose. Trial and Error method is used to fix issues.
- Service by untrained technician may lead to breakdowns.
- Special tools being expensive, local methods are used to remove and re-install components in turn damaging the nuts and bolts.
- Lack of Ownership on repeat jobs.
- Financially not stable, hence if a major repeat job occurs then accountability is the issue.
- Almost all such centers do not have insurance for vehicles inside their premises.
- Quality, Safety and reliability of spare parts is debatable all the time.
C. Online Car Service Aggregators
These are app-based organisations with no brick and mortar of their own. They work on margin sharing module. These organizations are very strong on various platforms, promoting different services. The only way they attract customers is by advertising different services at throw-away prices. These aggregators have tie-ups with local garages & multi-brand service centres for services & repairs.
- Strong follow up with customers on work in progress status and with workshop on timely delivery.
- Accountability on repeat job.
- The vehicle will be sent to a workshop in your vicinity, irrespective of the kind of workshop – it can be a local workshop or a well-structured multi-brand service center.
- Costing – To lower the cost, different packages of periodic maintenance services are designed and rates are offered accordingly, whereas the fact is that a full periodic maintenance service has to be carried out once in a year or 10,000 kms whichever comes first. Customers choosing lower periodic maintenance packages may be lower the performance of their vehicle in the long run.
D. Multi-brand Service Centres
These fall in-between the high-cost dealerships and unorganized local garages. They have better infrastructure than local garages with proper SOPs, providing services to customer at a price lower than dealerships.
- They are as good as dealership service centers.
- Trained Technicians are hired from dealership; hence quality of work is good.
- Affordable Rate- Much lesser than a dealership and marginally more than a road side workshops.
- Only required parts are replaced. The concept of mandatory replacement of spare part in service is not encouraged.
- Cashless Insurance Repair facility is available, similar to a dealership service center.
- Personal attention is given to each vehicle. Since they don’t sell new vehicles, there is no addition of new vehicles to their pool, hence their quality of work has to be good and customer satisfaction should be high to retain customers.
- Any Repeat jobs are taken care immediately with high accountability.
- Generally, workmanship warranty is for more months compared to other centers.
- Delays in procurement of Spare parts as dealers don’t want to sell the parts to bigger multi-brand service center to kill the competition and maintain their monopoly.
- At times, delay in delivery of vehicle as they have limited staff and if personnel are on leave without prior intimation, they don’t have replacement from other branches like dealers have.
- They cannot entertain warranty work.
After analysing all the pros and cons, different surveys conducted and the dealership reports we can draw the following conclusion:
- Vehicle users are forced to stick to dealership service center for keeping their warranty alive and in turn paying exorbitant charges in the name of servicing.
- Once the warranty period is over, they prefer going to other service center as different surveys have shown that 60% of customer do not visit dealership workshop after warranty.
- The concept of well structed Multi-brand Service Center competing with Dealership service center is at the tipping point of taking off.
- It is little risky to get the work done at local garages due to lack of training, the impact is on quality.
- We leave it to your better judgment to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of approaching a certain car service provider, which suits best your needs.