Wondering where to get your car serviced?
As vehicles get older and warranties expire, owners increasingly look beyond the dealership for repairs. So J.D. Power polled over 12,000 drivers to help car owners figure out the best place to take their cars.
There are two rankings: general maintenance and tire replacement. Both are scored on six categories. For general customer satisfaction the categories were fairness of charges (19 percent of total score); service quality (18 percent); service advisor (18 percent); service facility (16 percent); service initiation (15 percent); and vehicle pick-up (14 percent). Tire replacement is slightly different: service initiation (20 percent); fairness of charges (18 percent); service quality (18 percent); service advisor (16 percent); vehicle pick-up (15 percent) and service facility (13 percent)
Two companies stood atop the first list, with a joint win for Christian Brothers Automotive and Les Schwab Tire Centers. Out of a possible 1000 points, both outlets—headquartered in Texas and Oregon, respectively—scored 823 points, well clear of Grease Monkey at 782. Goodyear’s Tire & Auto Centers just miss the podium with 820 points, with Valvoline Instant Oil Change rounding out the top five. You can check out the full list of winners and losers below:
Tire replacement is a simpler affair, and once again Les Schwab takes a win. It’s followed by Discount Tire, Costco Wholesale, Goodyear Tire & Auto Service—the only other company to crack the top five on both lists—and Sam’s Club. Have a full look at the tire replacement list below:
The study also presents other crucial insights. Unsurprisingly, fixing issues properly the first time was the single most important factor in customer satisfaction. Luckily it happened for 93 percent of respondents: getting it wrong could cost a shop as much as 247 points. Perhaps more unexpected is the second most important determinant: vehicle walkarounds. They might only happen three-quarters of the time, but when they do they bumped scores up by 49.
A car’s age has an effect on regular dealer visits too. The study found that as cars got older, owners were less likely to take them to a dealer. 33 percent of people took their rides to the official shop in the first year: this drops to 21 percent by the time a vehicle is five years old, and only eight percent once it’s a decade or more. As cars get older, third-party shops become more important to their health, which is an opportunity these companies can take advantage of.
Word of mouth remains an important aid. Customers who gave a shop a score in the 900s (out of 1000) had on average a 7/10 likelihood of recommending the same shop. That’s crucial for Gen Z, as drivers in that age group (16–22) rate other peoples’ recommendations as the most important reason for picking a service company. Boomers on the other hand, with the advantage of more years under their belt, base their choice on previous experiences more than anything else.
“Customer experience is the cornerstone when it comes to satisfaction with aftermarket service,” said Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer at SurveyMonkey, which worked with J.D. Power on the study. “The data show how providers who excel at basic customer touchpoints—from vehicle walkarounds to check-up calls—have a clear edge among consumers.”