Editor’s Report

Editor’s Report

Lypen, John

A recent aftermarket study on consumers’ preferences for vehicle maintenance and repair provides valuable insight into factors that influence buying decisions.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) recently published the results of a study conducted Lite last yean The purpose of the study was to analyze the attitudes and perceptions of consumers who use professional service providers as well as those who maintain their own vehicles. The results of the study provide more than just interesting reading for a shop owner. They provide valuable insight into consumers’ psyches that will help you serve existing customers better and attract new ones at the same time.

The AAIA report classifies all consumers into one of two major categories: Do It Yourself (DIY) or Do It For Me (DIFM), each further broken down into 11 series of subcategories. Someone is considered a DIFM consumer if he performs no service at all to his own vehicle, while someone is classified a DIYer if he performs any service or maintenance at all on his own vehicle. Surprisingly, 22% of the people surveyed for the study are considered DIFM. In other words, the stud)’ found mat nearly one in four consumers doesn’t even add windshield washer fluid or top off the engine’s antifreeze. Thankfully, only 1% of respondents said they had no work at all done on their cars in the past 12 months!

Some other noteworthy findings from the study:

*89% of all consumers reported they had some type of professional service done on their veliicles in the past year. The most common was an oil change (72%), followed by tire replacement or rotation (64%), air filter replacement (43%) and windshield wiper fluid replacement (24%).

*77% of all consumers said they performed some type of service on their vehicles in the past 12 months. Most common here were adding windshield wiper fluid (66%), replacing wiper blades (44%), adding antifreeze (35%) and replacing the air Biter (29%).

*The largest single suhcategory is the DIY “light” segment, equaling 28% of all consumers. As the name implies, these are consumers who perform very little DIY work. These people tend to be older and show a much higher tendency to take their vehicles to a dealership for service than DIYers, who do more of their own work.

*55% of DIFM consumers have had a dealership perform maintenance or repairs on their vehicles in the past 12 months, compared to only 32% of DIYers. Conversely, 27% of DIYers have patronized a general repair shop, while only 23% of DIFM consumers have.

*Despite differences in their preference for the type of shop they use, the reasons both DIY and DIFM consumers choose a shop are surprisingly similar. When given a choice of 13 influencing factors, both groups selected Quality of Service as the number one reason to select a shop. Cost of Service ranked a distant seventh behind other factors such as Past Experience with Service Provider, Existence of Service Guarantee, Speed of Service and Convenient Shop Location. Dead lust in the list of factors were Availability of Discount Coupons and Advertisement.

*86% of all consumers said they own at least one automotive tool like a battery charger or grease gun, but only 4% reported owning an OBD code reader.

*While females represent nearly half (43%) of the DIY crowd, they account for a larger percentage (61%) of DIFM consumers.

*Among the DIY group, only 38% are over 55 years old, compared to 56% of the DIFM group.

All of these statistics are important. They give a shop owner insight into today’s coasumers and how they decide where to have their vehicles serviced. They also point us to opportunities. For example, when we see that older Americans are more likely to use a dealership for their cars’ repair and service needs (and we know that the population is aging), it’s apparent that we need to try and attract an older clientele. When we’re shown that women are much more likely than men to utilize prof essionals for vehicle service, it becomes obvious that we need to operate a business that encourages female customers. And when we see that there are a half-dozen factors more important to a consumer than low price, we understand die need to avoid trying to grow our business based on discounted services.

John Lypen


Copyright Hearst Business Publishing Mar 2005

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