A good-standards Kitemark scheme for garages is still struggling to reach a double-figure membership nine months after launch, but big changes should be on the way.
The British Standards Institute says it has been hard at work behind the scenes with key players in the workshop industry to generate greater interest in the Kitemark scheme, which it launched in September 2005.
While just six more garages have been awarded the Kitemark scheme since the initial three in January this year, the BSI says a wave of workshops will soon join.
Although the BSI won't put a timescale on the increased uptake, the Unipart chain is keen to push its garages through the scheme, while fleet owner Arval PHH is also insisting any workshop that works on its cars must sign up.
The Kitemark scheme tests garages on the quality of their work so motorists can be sure of a decent standard of service. It is a major reason for the stay of execution which the National Consumer Council granted the workshop industry recently.
The NCC had originally given the £10 billion-a-year service and repair industry until March 2006 to show that it could mend its ways. Now the NCC has given the industry until September '07 to get its house in order. If it can't the NCC will launch push the Department of Trade and Industry to formally license the industry, a threat the Government originally made in 2002.
Other schemes aimed at improving workshop standards also in the pipeline include a code of conduct put forward by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Although a row recently erupted between the SMMT and the Retail Motor Industry Federation, which represents around 9000 of the UK's 25,000 garages, insiders say the two key groups are now acting together once again.
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