A Motor Ombudsman poll of independent garages and franchise dealer workshops has revealed that rising operational costs, taxes and energy bills are set to be the biggest operational challenge for 90% of businesses in 2023.
This is a marked increase on the 64% of respondents who stated in the same study that paying more for utilities and higher costs had reduced overall business profitability last year.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses that took part in the research by the Ombudsman for the automotive sector, also cited that they will have to contend with motorists putting off essential repairs to their vehicle this year due to the squeeze on household incomes. Similarly, 59% of survey participants stated that paying more for replacement car components due to shortages and inflation would be another trying factor during the coming year.
According to the findings, fewer customers being able to afford routine vehicle maintenance, such as servicing, poses another threat to footfall and revenues for 57% of garages and workshops in 2023, whilst just under half (49%) explained that they will be looking to avoid passing on higher operating costs in the prices charged to customers due to the challenging economic climate.
When asked about the difficulty in recruiting qualified staff during the coming year to expand capacity, 43% stated that adding experienced technicians to their team would continue to be a challenge. However, this is a slight improvement on the 50% of businesses that said in the survey that they had struggled to recruit in 2022.
Last week, the Petrol Retailers Association expressed dismay that the Government will be cutting business support to the sector after it kept up fuel supplies and in some cases, food, during the pandemics. It warned the escalating costs could lead to the closure of rural filling stations which would impact on communities which depend on their local filling station and shop.