How can garages and service centres attract new MOT customers without having to resort to a price war? The AA’s Garage Guide provides the solution.
With ever-increasing demands on motorists’ time and so many garages to choose from, aggregator sites have proven themselves to be a useful time-saving tool for busy vehicle owners, but these results are often ranked primarily by the ‘cheapest’ price.
A quick Google search may yield multiple local results, but paid-for advertising will often prioritise those garages that have paid to appear higher on Google and may not be best suited to the customer’s needs.
With the AA’s Garage Guide, the search results are ranked firstly by the quality of the garage, then by distance from the user. It allows consumers to search for a specific service, maintenance or repair (SMR) requirement, and gauge the workshop’s expertise and reliability – including customer ratings reviews from AA members – as well as get a guide price before they book.
To ensure that all garages associated with the Garage Guide website uphold the AA’s strict quality and standards commitment, each business listed on the site has to meet specific selection criteria, including having ADR and other recognised industry qualifications or memberships (such as IMI registered professionals or equivalent).
There are numerous websites that list garages, but unlike the aggregators, the AA’s aim is to push up the standards in the industry via tight control over which garages can be listed. For example, the platform provides garages with a traceable, valuable review from each booking. Garages can also respond to reviews, giving them the opportunity to address and resolve any issues that may have arisen.
With the introduction of the opportunity for garages to become ‘AA Certified’, workshops can further enhance their reputation by undergoing an inspection which must be passed in order to become certified and gain access to an array of digital and physical A A branding. Certified garages must agree to the AA’s ‘Garage Promise’, which requires commitment from the participating business to fulfil its obligations to deliver exceptionally high standards. This not only helps differentiate the certified garages from their competitors, but also makes it clear to motorists which garages have taken further steps to commit to delivering something over and above the standard.
■ Misconception 1: Anyone can join these networks – the AA vets all potential garage partners to ensure that they meet and maintain its criteria and high standards before they can list on the Garage Guide website. Only professional businesses, with the required accreditations and operating out of registered premises, are permitted.
■ Misconception 2: There are no repeat customers – because a garage is required to digitally verify work to a customer’s AA account once it has been undertaken, the garage stays front of mind for the next time work needs to be done on the vehicle.
■ Misconception 3: Middlemen take the garage’s profits – the AA Garage Guide doesn’t charge subscription fees, just a low, flat admin fee per confirmed booking – which is considerably cheaper than the paid advertising on search engines, or the return on investment of traditional print advertising to acquire a new customer.