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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Surge in car & servicing repairs passes recovery predictions and indicates driver behaviour shift

Date: Friday 06 November 2020

WhoCanFixMyCar.com, the UK’s largest online marketplace for car servicing and repairs, has reported a surge from 27,000 job requests in April, to 85,000 in September, a massive increase of over 205%. This bounce back represents a larger workload than just simply MOT deferments and the backlog of services not undertaken; indicating the unpredicted effects of the UK dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. As of the 5th November, the UK enters another lockdown complete with a whole host of restrictions; although garages are not closing you are advised to stay at home apart from essential journeys (which are outlined on the government website). Reflecting on the effects of the last lockdown may give garages a flavour of what to expect in the coming weeks or indeed months.

After initially seeing repair requests grind to a complete stop, the uncertainty of access to garages and the never-ending need for repairs, only accelerated digital adoption within the industry and saw record numbers of new drivers using WhoCanFixMyCar.com for the first time. Between a mix of restrictions and worries over further lockdowns, more drivers than ever have moved online for their repair needs; being price or trust motivated, or even just to discover which businesses are still active in their area.

Al Preston, Co–Founder of WhoCanFixMyCar.com said;

“We’re pleased to see that throughout the uncertainty of recent times more drivers than ever are using us as their first port of call. We had anticipated a surge in work post-lockdown but what we’ve seen has superseded our expectations, with no signs of things slowing so far in Q4.”
“In this climate of uncertainty where restrictions are contracting and expanding on a monthly basis, in glimpses of normality people are turning to online options to seek out traditionally sourced services, in our case to find a garage. The benefits of online work provision have really shone through since March; with drivers searching out price comparison and convenience making booking in for repairs online all the more appealing.”
“Thanks to this shift in consumer behaviour, work for our growing garage network has been secured and our primary focus has now switched from driver acquisition to garage network support and development.”
“Long-time WhoCanFixMyCar.com member Joe Stevenson, Owner of Delilah’s Mobile Mechanics, said; “The first few weeks of the lockdown in March and April were a nightmare; our entire diary emptied – one by one a full month's worth of work was cancelled. We went from having too much work to 10 days where we survived on 1 booking a day.
“What helped keep spirits up was talking with Al & the rest of the team at WhoCanFixMyCar.com; getting updates on driver numbers and hearing what the online recovery looked like.
“About a month into the lockdown the floodgates opened; a mix of garages closing, drivers still needing car repairs and many moving online to try and find an available mechanic, this created an immense amount of work. It was a relief to go from nearly nothing to too much work, including a £3.5k job to replace a Mini Coopers engine – usually not an economical repair, but with dealerships shut the driver didn’t really have any other options.
“We’re currently busier than ever and have a new member of staff. WhoCanFixMyCar.com were there both physically and mentally, and while we’re still nervous about the future, we know we’re not going into it alone.
WhoCanFixMyCar and garages across the UK are entering this second lockdown feeling better prepared with an optimistic and driven attitude; continuing to deliver to drivers in need."

Every Service Has Seen Differing Effects
As predicted, MOT’s dropped off massively throughout Q1 and the beginning of Q2 due to the government’s MOT extension scheme which ran from the end of March through to the beginning of August. However, it’s clear that drivers haven't waited until their extension expired to book in for repairs or their MOT, getting them done throughout Q3 instead, with MOT’s seeing a huge 373% growth during that period.

Clutches repairs or replacements are risky to delay, doing so increases your chances of an accident or indeed a much more extensive and costly repair. It appears that many drivers chose to do just this and delay clutch work between Q1 and 2 with a 28.4% decline in job requests. Yet, behaviour in Q3 shows more drivers opting to book in for repairs sooner rather than later due the uncertain future, with clutch jobs seeing a growth of 89.5%.

Service

Q1 – Q2 Drop Off

Q2 - Q3 Recovery & Growth

MOTs

- 76%

+ 373%

Full Service

- 23.3%

+ 63.2

Clutch Repairs

- 28.4%

+ 89.5%