As we head into a new year, it’s time to take a look at what happened in the previous 12 months and reflect on what that can tell us for the year ahead. 

For starters, let’s have a look at some key takeaways that have been developing, not just in the last year, but over the past several years:

  • The average length of vehicle ownership for both new and used vehicles has increased 60% in the last 10 years
  • 75% of aftermarket auto repair is performed by independent repair shops, while 25% is done at the dealership
  • The consumer trend is towards favoring large franchise auto repair businesses

So… what do these trends mean for 2018? Let’s take a look.

Car Owners Seek Longevity

As we see, people are driving their vehicles longer. Part of that is thanks to improved vehicle technology keeping cars on the road. But it’s also because people want to extract as much value from the cars they own before purchasing another one.

But don’t mistake that for drivers being cheap. Not only are older car owners 2x more likely to expect to pay over $1,000 to keep their car running, they’re also much more likely to say yes to services like:

  • Changing the air filter
  • Replacing the oil filter
  • Using a fuel additive
  • Changing the spark plugs
  • Using a more premium oil
  • Changing the oil more often

On the other hand, people driving newer cars are more interested keeping up their appearances with things like glass cleaners, tire dressing, tire foam, and wax/polish. 

Popular Services

As people have more options for where to get their repairs done, clear lines are starting to form as to where consumers prefer to go for certain services. 


Most common services are oil changes, tire rotations, air filter replacements, and car washes.

Quick Lube

Most common services are (not surprisingly) oil changes, filter replacements, and wiper replacements. 

Repair Shops

In addition to offering the same services you’d find at the dealership or a quick lube, people are most likely to choose a repair shop for brakes, engine repair, electrical systems, inspection, cooling system, AC/heating, and steering/suspension/alignment. 

Some of that data is self-evident. Of course, you’re going to go to a repair shop to have your engine repaired and not the quick lube place. But what that also says is that as people look to keep their cars longer, repairs shops can become the one-stop shop, whether you need an oil change, or whether your brakes are making noise.

The opportunity is there if these shops can market themselves as the trusted provider of quality service.

Tire Shops

Finally, the most common services people choose tire shops for are new tires, tire repair, rotation/balance, and steering/suspension/alignment. Again, seems obvious, but what this data is really suggesting is that people seek expertise when taking care if their vehicle. 

What Consumers Want

The divide between dealerships, repair facilities, quick lubes, and tire shops don’t stop at the different services consumers choose them for. The reasons why a car owner brings their vehicle to one over the other vary as well. 

When people go to the dealership, they’re looking for a clean shop, a warranty or guarantee, and the feeling that they know the entire vehicle history. Compare that to a quick lube or tire shop, where people are really just looking for something close to them, that won’t take long, and where they can use a coupon or get a discount.

Repair shops by far have the toughest road to earning a consumers trust, likely because the repairs people choose to have performed there are more complex. This leads consumers to seek a place that is recommended or known for quality service. They also want to feel like a valued customer.

The Next Generation Emerges

It feels like we’ve been talking about millennials and their effects on businesses forever. That being said, it looks like the time has finally come where automotive repair facilities are feeling the impact (in a positive way) of this generation.

Younger millennials are more likely to opt for certain services over older millennials, and even non-millennials. Those services include tire rotation/balance, brake service, tire replacements, car wash and detailing, tire alignment, wiper blade installation, and heating and cooling services.

Now more than ever, it’s important for repair shops to be able to engage with and earn the trust of the youngest generation because according to the data, they’re the ones buying the majority of the services. 

Lucrative Opportunities Abound

All of these trends point to one thing – good things lie ahead for automotive repair facilities. People want their cars to stay on the road longer and are willing to pay to make it happen.

So how can repair shops take advantage of this? Focus on all things digital.

This means making sure your business has a modern web presence (this includes social media marketing), with information about your products and services so that when customers discover you, they see you as more than a quick oil change. Not only will this help customers, it will also help your business rank better on searches, and help you get discovered more.

But the opportunity to capitalize extends to inside your business as well. Digital signage is a great way to promote the services that we see trending up. If younger millennials are more likely to get their tires aligned, make sure you’re promoting that service (and all the other services they’re more likely to say yes to). If drivers of older cars are more likely to upgrade to a premium oil, make sure you’re highlighting the benefit of synthetic and high-mileage oil changes. 

If you’d like a free, no-obligation consultation on how you can capitalize on these trends with 10 Foot Wave’s digital marketing platform, click the link below to get started. We’ll be more than happy to see if our digital signage is a fit for your shop’s marketing challenges.