How far will drivers travel for car servicing and repair?
WhoCanFixMyCar.com connects drivers and garages across the UK. With over 10,000 drivers using us every month, and almost 7,000 registered garages, including independent repairers, mobile mechanics and main dealers, this gives us a unique birds-eye view on the market as a whole.
In this latest instalment of juicy data, we’re lifting 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 2-3 miles – but that’s not the whole story…
Most commonly-travelled distance – 2-3 miles
Overall UK average – 5.7 miles
Travel more than 4 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 2-3 miles, even that figure is higher than garage owners would imagine. 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 (to an extent), but rarely more than 4 miles.
Londoners who travel 4 miles or less – 71%
Relative likelihood for rural residents to travel 15+ miles – 5x
Unsurprisingly, city dwellers (and Londoners above all) travel shorter 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?
1. Drivers travel up to 30% further for specialist or costly work.
(Here’ we’re only looking at journeys up to a maximum of 10 miles.)
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.
2. Drivers will travel over 50% further to visit a garage with great reviews
Here at WhoCanFixMyCar.com, 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 4 miles away. However a top performer – i.e. one with a flawless 5.0/5.0 rating – will have their customers travel over 6 miles on average. That’s over 50% further afield.
We even present this information to our users: here is a screenshot from our #1 garage’s profile page, showing his location, and the location of his previous customers. They’ll travel for miles… and that’s across London too!
In conclusion: 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 most common for drivers to travel 2-3 miles, 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 7,000 garages receive our local area job alerts every single day.