Lets start out with saying that there are obviously times when you should use dealership. If you have warranty available on a new vehicle or free oil changes at the dealership you bought your car from you should make sure that you use what you have paid for.
People are keeping cars longer.
The reality is though, that people are keeping their cars for longer. in the 1990's the average age of a car on the road in Canada was about 7.25 years. By 2016 that figure had risen to almost 10 years as the average age. People are keeping cars longer and often look for service experiences outside of a dealership now that the vehicle(s) they own are past any warranty. As a result many are turning to independent shops for a much better experience.
We don't treat you like a number
What we hear about the dealership experience is often disappointment at being treated like a number.
To be clear not all dealership experiences are negative but we do get a surprising amount of customers that are less than impressed. Most often we hear that customers felt that they weren't given the treatment that they expected due to wait times, scheduling challenges etc. Dealerships have to move a volume of cars through the service area and we hear from customers that its often difficult to find convenient or immediate times to schedule service. Independent shops such as ours can work with our customers to find the time that works for them. We don't have the need to churn customers through and that also means that we take the extra time to take care of your car.
Your local repair shop probably knows your spouse’s name, your children’s names and where they go to school, what your dream car is, how long you’ve had your current car, what your last car was, why you sold it, and any of the issues any of your vehicles have. That's all part of the experience.
While waiting areas have evolved into something better than stale coffee and 3 year old magazines, independent shops often provide a much more relaxing atmosphere while you wait for your car to be serviced. Many of our clients like to get work done while they wait and places like ours cater to business people. Our reception area is a quiet place to get work done while you use our free WIFI or just relax and watch the news. In those cases where your car will be with us for longer than you want to wait we have a fleet of Mercedes courtesy vehicles at your disposal.
Specialization and training
Dealerships are generally well equipped, but they are designed to handle the brand of cars they sell, and the service is aimed that those cars. Everything from oil changes to alignments are geared towards the specific brand they sell. Independent shops, like RSP Motorsports, specialize in multiple areas for multiple vehicle types and we aren't specific to any brand.
We have people come to the shop that haven't been in before and ask "...if we do the work is the warranty on their car still valid...?" - the answer is yes.
Provided that the independent performs the service under the guidelines of the manufacturer your warranty is good. Most independent service professionals can help you manage the service on your vehicle. Automotive Service Professionals have access to a database of service information and also have access to the same service information as the new car dealer. This means that they can help you ensure that any recalls are handled properly, and that any warranty repairs are also handled at the appropriate facility.
In many cases we often have people that bring their cars to us as the dealership has told them that they can't (or won't) fix the vehicle. This can happen when dealerships have an unusual or difficult problem to diagnose and the amount of time it takes to do that just doesn't make economic sense for them. In other cases it may be that they do not have the expertise or the time that an independent shop would have. We often have cars brought to us that the customer states the dealership told them its can't be fixed. In every case we have fixed the vehicle and often at a cost lower than quoted by a dealership if they determined they could fix it at all.
Another reason people come to us is to have something special done that could never be handled by a dealership. Its no secret that we are proud of our dyno room. With over a million dollars invested, and, as far as we can see, the only non-commercial Superflow Dyno in Canada its one of the many niches a dealership can't match. The same goes for our network across North America and Europe for any vehicles we tune. Of course that also includes any modifications or performance enhancements that people ask for.
The Workplace and shop environment.
The shop environment - a great workspace leads to great work. We have done many posts on what makes us different and our work place is just part of that. Your experience starts with how we treat our staff, from the areas they work in to the tools and diagnostic equipment they have. We aren't a production line and our staff can take the extra time to go over your car and find any issues that may have been missed, or areas that may be an issue in the future. Take a look around the next place you have your service done. Is it clean? Are you happy with how the staff treated you and the end result of your vehicle service? If not, think about the things you are looking for when you get your car serviced and if you aren't happy with a dealership consider an independent.
We don't have mechanics - we have technicians
Sure - it seems like just marketing word but in fact its not. In the days of carburetors and analog systems, diagnosis of car issues literally fell into a series of mechanical faults that were (relatively) easy to diagnose. In todays cars the systems are complex, inter-related and often manifest themselves as a check engine light that has to be diagnosed further with specialized tools. As a result our technicians have had the benefit of access to the latest equipment, diagnostic techniques and a network of information and experience. Most technicians at independent shops have had previous experience at a dealership.
The choice is ultimately yours, but have a look at an independent shop and see what they have to offer. You will likely be pleasantly surprised.