Is there a difference between a franchise auto chain and a local foreign car specialist?

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Every vehicle needs service sometimes, even your beautiful jazzy foreign model. But, when you take your car or truck in for maintenance and repairs, who do you trust to do the work? Do you prefer a local foreign car specialist or a franchise auto chain? 

Although you probably never thought about it, there are several differences between locally-owned shops and franchise shops. It mostly boils down to what you need versus what you get.

You need to know what you’re paying and why

When you get a bill for repair services, your local foreign car specialist gives you an honest auto part and labor bill. But, unfortunately, not all shops operate that way. 

Franchises calculate labor and parts, but they often use billing formulas that maximize profits. A franchise bill usually starts with a repair-timeframe and a labor rate based on a repair guide or program. The process doesn’t usually end there. 

  • If a repair job takes 2 hours, the franchise might bill you for 5 hours because that’s what the book says. 
  • If an inexperienced franchise technician does the work, you pay the same rate as you would for their most experienced repair guy. 
  • Also, if your franchise mechanic operates out of a shiny new garage, with plush new furnishings, and a cappuccino maker to tempt high-end clients, you pay for that too. 

Local repair shops must cover their expenses too, but they focus primarily on expert repairs instead of shop image. They don’t get hung up on extravagant waiting areas, cappuccino makers, and the overall illusion of luxury. When you pay for experienced mechanics, that’s what you get. 

You don’t get bait-and-switch pricing with a local foreign car specialist

If a franchise offers flat-rate pricing for repairs, be prepared to pay more for little extras. Often those flat rates are just a starting point. (Yes, the ad says $100, except you also need this or that, so the price is $147.) This bait-and-switch often happens when a repair shop follows a standard set by a corporation on the other side of the country or the other side of the world. 

When a franchise owner never has to look you in the eye, he has no problem drawing you into the shop with an advertised price he can never meet. He knows that the shop will ultimately charge you more money, and you will pay it. 

You need to know the owner

Besides pricing, customer interaction is one of the most significant differences between repair franchises and local foreign car experts. A local garage owner knows foreign auto repairs, and he takes care of the day-to-day operations. He lives and works in your city, often somewhere in the same neighborhoods as where you live or work. 

You won’t always see a local owner when you bring your car in for repairs, but the receptionist doesn’t have to make a long-distance call when you need to talk to him. 

The point?

When you form a relationship with a local foreign auto shop, eventually, you meet the owner. You look him in the eye, and you create the kind of connection you could never form with a franchise owner. Like absentee landlords, franchise garage owners don’t want to establish a relationship with you. They just want you to keep handing over your money. 

Your local foreign car specialist: Roggi’s Auto Service in Hartford CT

At Roggi’s, we specialize in foreign and European auto repairs. Our big difference: we treat you like family. Call Roggi’s at (860) 200-3480 to schedule your next appointment.


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