Vehicle owners say the ease of doing business with an aftermarket service facility is a key reason they choose them rather than a franchised new-vehicle dealer for some types of service. According to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study, dealer service facilities hold an advantage in consumer perception with one exception: customers say aftermarket service providers are easy to do business with, outperforming dealer service facilities specific to general maintenance, tire replacement and oil change services.
“During the depths of the pandemic, many dealers increased emphasis on their service business,” said Leonard Martin, director of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “To remain competitive, independent service providers must understand that it’s important to build on the competitive advantage of being easier to do business with—which is something franchise dealers typically fail to communicate to their sales and service customers. This facet of the business includes location, hours of operation, scheduling procedures and overall friendliness. Customers want to be acknowledged immediately and then served hassle-free.”
The study, now in its third year following its debut in 2019, measures customer satisfaction with aftermarket service facilities, providing a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing facilities in the U.S. aftermarket. Performance in three segments—full-service maintenance and repair, quick oil change and tire replacement—is based on the combined scores for seven measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience. These measures are (in alphabetical order): ease of scheduling/getting vehicle in for service, fairness of charges, service advisor courtesy, service advisor performance, service facility, time to complete service and quality of work.
Following are key findings of the 2022 study:
- Singular advantage: Across the measures of customer trust with a service provider, new-vehicle dealers perform better than aftermarket service providers in seven of eight attributes, with the exception being ease of doing business. The franchised new-vehicle dealer average score in this measure is 6.11 (on a 7-point scale) compared with independent full-service maintenance and repair facilities (6.18), tire replacement facilities (6.20) and quick oil change facilities (6.28).
- Independents improve in fix it right the first time: Successfully completing work the first time is a critical key performance indicator (KPI) to increase customer satisfaction. When work is completed right the first time, customer satisfaction increases. Independent service providers improve on this important metric, climbing from already high scores in 2021. The percentage of full-service maintenance customers who say their problem was fixed right the first time increases to 97% from 94% in 2021. Among quick oil change customers, the percentage increases to 98% from 97% and among tire replacement customers, the percentage increases to 96% from 94%. “Given that both franchised dealers and independents are finding it more difficult to hire qualified technicians, this result is heartening,” Martin said. “It’s an indicator that the general level of service has improved despite labor challenges.”
- Price and convenience equally important: Some 39% of service customers cite the lower cost of service as a reason for choosing independent service providers. In comparison, 38% cite ability to accommodate their schedule, and 34% cite the perceived ease and speed of using the facility. Among Gen X, Gen Y and Boomer respondents, prior experience with the service facility trumps price and convenience.
“As American consumers emerge from the pandemic, the demand for automotive service is on the upswing, and their service expectations remain high,” Martin said. “This research confirms that independent specialty service providers still have a strong place in the market, especially if they emphasize strengths that include convenient locations and ease of doing business.”
Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. ranks highest in satisfaction for full-service maintenance and repair with a score of 825. Kwik Car (820) ranks second and Goodyear Tire & Auto Service (816) ranks third.
Take 5 ranks highest in satisfaction for quick oil change, with a score of 855. Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers (827) ranks second and Valvoline Instant Oil Change (823) ranks third.
Tires Plus ranks highest in satisfaction for tire replacement with a score of 835. Discount Tire ranks second (834) and Firestone Complete Auto Care (813) ranks third.
The 2022 U.S. Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study is based on responses from 9,979 vehicle owners. Survey data collection was conducted online between November 2021 and May 2022. Survey respondents were initially selected from online consumer panels. New for the 2022 study is the inclusion of geo-fencing data in which respondents were invited to take the survey after their cellphone location indicated they had recently visited a non-dealer service facility. Respondents were screened for having aftermarket service performed in the past 12 months.
See the online press release at http://www.jdpower.com/pr-id/2022048.
 J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study
 J.D. Power defines generational groups as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2004). Millennials (1982-1994) are a subset of Gen Y.