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Kitemark garages: do car makers care?

18 June 2007

  • Car makers aren't joining standards scheme
  • More independents are signing up, but slowly
  • Affiliated garages are benefiting from scheme

Car manufacturers aren't supporting the BSI's kitemark scheme

Vehicle manufacturers aren't supporting the British Standards Institute's kitemark scheme, which is designed to raise the quality of service in the UK's car workshops.

The BSI revealed that 90% of garages that have joined the scheme are independents - but only about 30 garages are franchised dealerships.

The BSI revealed that 130 garages in the UK are now licensed to carry the kitemark, and a further 180 will soon join them. So by end of this month, 310 garages will be able to carry the kitemark - still only 1% of the 30,000 workshops in the UK.

However, the BSI is concerned that car manufacturers' dealerships aren't joining up.

Why aren't more car makers joining?
Ian Harper, general manager for Kitemark Garage Services, said: 'It may be that they have their own codes of practice and feel they are able to audit themselves properly. Two manufacturers have said they want to get on board, but we are hoping we'll get more. However, I know that there are some vehicle manufacturers that will not meet the BSI standard.'

The kitemark scheme for garage repair was introduced in 2005 and was seen as the last chance for workshops to get their house in order. If they can't, the National Consumer Council will push the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to formally license the industry, a threat the Government originally made in 2002.

However, progress has been slow. At the end of 2006, only 65 repair workshops in the UK had gained kitemarks.

Mr Harper added: 'A lot of it is about fear - fear that garages will not be able to conform to the standard. It may be that some are just waiting on the sidelines to see how the scheme progresses and then will get on board.

Harper hopes that by 2009, between 500 and 700 workshops will have signed up, but that is still less than 2% of garages.

Garages could benefit
It is hoped that as public awareness of the scheme grows, consumers will seek out garages that carry the kitemark. The BSI says garages that join the £1500-a-year scheme, will see a rise in trade.

Jack Kyriakos, who owns a garage in East London, says his gross revenues rose by 20% since he joined the BSI scheme.

'I spent a load of money in advertising, telling people that my garage meets the standard,' he said. 'It took a while, but then it started to take off. It was well worth it. Thing is, we've been tarred with the same brush as the cowboys and we need to get rid of the cowboys.'

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