Looking after the oldies

  11 March 2013

I’m banging on about aftersales again and without apology, too. This time it’s to share the rather neat approach Stratstone applies across its Mercedes-Benz retailers in the North.

For older cars – they must be at least eight years old to qualify – they pare back the labour rate to £65ph from £115, then lop 5% off parts prices, too.

Join a Mercedes owners’ club (£29pa) and discou nt that brings drops the rate to £60ph and 10% off parts. That brings their charges within hailing distance of what independent garages locally ask.

But customers still enjoy big-dealer benefits: free coffee and biccies in a comfy lounge with wi-fi, PCs available and a big-screen TV for while-you-wait jobs; collection of the car from your home and delivery back otherwise, and all within the price.

And although my motor is 20 years old, the technicians know it inside out. One even remembers giving the car its PDI back in 1993. There’s no sniffiness about its age: it’s invariably handed back startlingly clean, and I’m given a full printout of what’s been done.

With the average age of cars in the UK at 7.44 years, and 13 million vehicles aged 9-years plus (according to British Car Auctions’ data), there’s clear sense in such an approach.

Particularly when the independent garages locally ever keener and more professional. The Stratstone branch I use has the North’s biggest Mercedes indy only a few miles away, while two of the better all-makes garages locally offer free coffee, lifts home, collect-and-deliver – even loan cars for a tenner a day.

If Stratstone parent Pendragon is known for anything, it’s a shrewd eye for a profit. Here charging less means earning more and the logic is so obvious I wonder why more don’t share this approach.

Ray Castle
Editor, Auto Retail Agenda


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