Garages raise concerns about rising costs as financial worries continue into 2024

  • The Motor Ombudsman carries out annual survey of independent garages and franchise dealer workshops
  • Poll finds outfits have major concerns over rising operational costs, taxes and energy bills
  • Bosses also express worries over recruitment amid a shortage of trained technicians

Time 10:29 am, January 9, 2024

Rising operational costs, taxes and energy bills are set to be the biggest concern for garages in 2024, according to a new industry survey.

A poll of 104 independent garages and franchise dealer workshops, conducted by the The Motor Ombudsman, found that the issues were raised by a whopping 75% of businesses when asked about what they were worried about in the year ahead.

Industry insiders are also expecting to pay more for spare parts in 2024, with over half (58%) citing shortages and inflation as a concern.

As a result, a similar amount of respondents (54%) told the survey that they are now debating whether they have to raise prices in order to keep their businesses sustainable.

Such a move is unlikely to be popular with consumers, at a time when households up and down the country are continuing to tighten their belts.

According to the Ombudsman, 53% of businesses witnessed customers avoid bringing their car in, in a bid to avoid costs, in 2023.

It is a trend which is set to continue into the new year with 54% of garages expecting customers to put off essential repairs and 49% saying consumers will avoid routine maintenance to save money.

Elsewhere, businesses raised concerns with a difficulty recruiting additional technicians. A total of 58% of respondents raised the issue, compared to 56% in the same poll at the start of last year.

The Motor Ombudsman’s own research showed that 50% of businesses struggled to recruit the technicians needed to meet demand in 2022.

Reacting to the findings, Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: ‘Our latest study presents a clear picture in that garages and workshops will still have to contend with a number of underlying challenges this year, with rising costs one of the most pertinent, as this ultimately affects their bottom line.

‘This will need to be balanced with the need to remain competitive in order to deliver an attractive proposition to motorists, at a time when household budgets remain under strain.’

In more positive news, over half (52%) of the businesses which responded to the poll said they would look to invest in recruitment to expand their workforce from a competitive pool.

In addition, over a third of respondents (35%) said they are considering refurbishment work to their premises to improve customer experience.

Fennell added: ‘Accreditation to The Motor Ombudsman will continue to serve as an important and key point of differentiation for garages and workshops.

‘This showcases a commitment to high standards of work and service, coupled with the added reassurance that there is an independent and impartial body on hand to help bring any unresolved disputes to a swift and fair conclusion at no charge to consumers.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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