What Drivers Want

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AIA's Jean-François Champagne with consultants Rick Nadeau and James Channer, who presented the driver behaviour study. PHOTO AIA Canada

A recent study by AIA Canada outlines consumers’ expectations regarding the maintenance and repair of their vehicles.

On March 24, AIA Canada invited Rick Nadeau of Quorus and James Channer of InMotion Brands, partners in the study, to present the major findings.

This study, in the Consumer Behaviour series, is based on the results of questionnaires completed by a panel of 2000 drivers across Canada.

They don’t know their car

According to the study, about half of respondents claim to know their vehicles, a perception that is not reflected in their shop visits, experts say. They are 59% to mention that preventive maintenance of their car is a priority while only 30% of them admit to following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guide to the letter.

The study indicates that approximately one-quarter of Canadian drivers entrust their vehicles exclusively to dealerships. More than half go to dealerships, but also to aftermarket shops, with the remainder dealing only with independent shops. These statistics lead the consultants to say that three-quarters of all cars go through an independent workshop at one time or another. “This is a strong signal to our companies,” Channer says. They need to understand what the consumer wants and establish a clear strategy to retain them.”

Jean-François Champagne, President of AIA Canada, emphasized during this discussion that the offer must be adjusted to the changes in habits accelerated by the pandemic. “We need to revisit the communications plan to capture these opportunities.”

Guiding them

For Channer, despite what they may think, motorists know little about the needs of their vehicles, and maintenance is rarely on their list of priorities, especially among younger motorists facing other financial constraints. “The game plan for the workshop including involving the entire team. I speak here primarily to take the time to educate the client and work on what they are concerned about.”

In this regard, the study states that safety, avoiding breakdowns, preserving vehicle value and reducing major unexpected repairs are among the top preventive maintenance concerns of Canadian motorists. Focus your message on these priorities,” says Channer. People want knowledgeable partners who will help them plan their maintenance. Explain that a dollar invested today is going to save an average of 15 later.”

Making a connection

Consumers who choose secondary market shops do so because of the favorable equation between price and value of the service, but also because of the bond of trust they develop there. Some still perceive that dealer technicians are better trained, that warranties are more attractive and also that the service department will follow up more efficiently.

In this regard, both speakers stressed the importance of creating a direct communication channel with their customers. “Knowing the customer’s car also means knowing their habits and preferred method of following up with them. Forget the general repetitive emails, reminders should be personalized and accompanied by all the information the customer needs to understand the importance of it.”

Rick Nadeau adds to the conversation, “For survey respondents, their loyalty to our shops is based primarily on the transparency and quality of customer service, the technical knowledge of the staff and the quality of the work. Price is still a factor in their decisions, but our results indicate that as time goes on, the trust relationship becomes more satisfactory and price becomes less of a factor in their decision.”

Reassuring them

He adds that consumers, in adopting a shop, would like to see the same technician working on their vehicle, more time at the counter to explain the nature of the work being recommended, and help with short-, medium- and long-term planning for their maintenance and repairs.

You know people are stressed when they come into your shop, often not understanding what’s going on,” says Nadeau. “We play on emotion here. Think about how they feel when they leave. Are they reassured? It’s up to you to invest in the experience they will have in your workshop. They will remember a good experience and become effective marketing tools for your company. Our research shows that before going online, drivers will consult with family and friends first when choosing a shop.”

The complete study is available on the AIA Canada website.



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