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How far will drivers travel for car servicing and repair?

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WhoCanFixMyCar.com connects drivers and garages across the UK. With over 50,000 drivers posting jobs with us every month and over 15,000 registered garages on our network, including independent repairers, mobile mechanics and main dealers, this gives us a unique perspective on the marketplace as a whole.

Which is why we’ve decided to lift the lid on an age-old industry question: just how far will drivers travel for servicing and repair? Let’s find out.

Typically, drivers travel two to three miles to their nearest garage. But that’s not the whole story…

  • Most commonly-travelled distance - 2-3 miles

  • Overall UK average - 5.7 miles

  • Travel more than four miles - 46%

  • Travel 10 or more miles - 15%

The overall UK average is a much higher number than you would expect. While it’s clear that the typical distance travelled is lower, at two to three miles, even that figure is higher than garage owners would imagine. What’s apparent is that there are plenty of drivers who are prepared to travel much, much further to keep their car in top condition.

The implications are obvious: a garage’s pool of customers is much larger than the business may have previously imagined! But under what circumstances will drivers go the extra mile (or two)?

Londoners will travel but rarely more than four miles

Londoners who travel four miles or less - 71%Relative likelihood for rural residents to travel 15+ miles - 5x

Unsurprisingly, city dwellers (and Londoners above all) travel the shortist distances. And yet the average distance travelled by Londoners is still high - at 5.3 miles. It’s also clear from the ‘long tail’ of the graph above that there are a good proportion of drivers – in all locations – who will travel much, much further to find the right garage.

So: under what circumstances are drivers prepared to drive many miles for their service or repair?

Drivers will travel up to 30 per cent further for specialist or costly work

It’s clear that when the job requires specialist attention (such as a complex car audio install) or is more costly (such as a replacement clutch) drivers are prepared to travel that bit further - either to ensure great service or, possibly, on the premise of a cost saving.

However, when it comes to ‘commoditised’ work, such as new tyres, car owners just aren’t prepared to invest the drivetime on something that could be resolved locally.

The learning for garages: if you have something special to offer, you should find ways to spread the word beyond your immediate neighbourhood.

Drivers will travel up to 50 per cent further to visit garages with great reviews

Here at WhoCanFixMyCar, we’ve always maintained that review quality and quantity is the #1 differentiator that sets our top-performing garages apart from the rest - and this is clearly reflected in our data:

A garage with a low review score or no reviews (the left-hand side of the graph), attracts customers from, on average, less than four miles away. However, a top performer – i.e. one with a flawless 5.0/5.0 rating - will have their customers travel over six miles on average. That’s over 50% further afield.

If you don’t believe us check out the image below. This is a screenshot from our top performing garage profile page showing their location and the location of their customers.  As you can see, the latter will travel for miles… and that’s across London too!

So, what have we learned?

There’s often a preconception within the industry that drivers aren’t prepared to travel more than a few streets for their service or repair work, and that it’s simply not worth looking for customers outside your immediate neighbourhood. That's not the case.

While it’s still true that most drivers will travel two to three miles at most, plenty will travel much further, even in towns and cities - with an overall average of 5.7 miles - when there’s reason to do so.

Is your average review score easily discoverable online? Is it as high as it could be? Find out more and see why almost thousands of garages receive our local area job alerts every single day.

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