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    Industry Insights: Independent Mechanics Make Strong Comeback

    In a significant shift within the Polish automotive repair industry, 2023 saw every third independent workshop in the country affiliate with one of the partner networks. This collaboration trend, championed by parts distributors and oil suppliers such as PETRONAS, is redefining the landscape for local, often family-run businesses. Profiauto, a parts distributor, leads the charge with a staggering 1800 partners, while PETRONAS’s network itself has impressively crossed the 500-partner mark.

    Adam Bober, elucidating on the collaborative model, emphasized that such networks aim not to control but to support the independent enterprises in thriving. Given that oil sales can constitute up to 25% of a workshop’s revenue, the support from a giant like PETRONAS can be transformative. The partnership benefits extend beyond competitive pricing to include marketing and training support, with select workshops receiving the opportunity to become flagship outlets, complete with brand endorsement and funds for modernization.

    The popularity of partner networks is evident in their growth – from approximately 3,500 affiliated services in 2016 to over 5,100 today. This expansion reflects a broader industry trend towards professionalism and enhanced customer service, driven by technological advancements and changing vehicle demographics.

    Poland’s automotive landscape is rapidly evolving, with electric vehicles nearing the 100,000 mark and every third new car in 2022 being hybrid. This technological shift demands specialized knowledge and tools from mechanics, a challenge that independent workshops are meeting head-on. Despite the allure of authorized services for newer cars, 63% of mechanic visits are to independent workshops, underscoring the critical role they play in the automotive ecosystem.

    The industry is also witnessing a change in the public perception of mechanics, fueled by the internet’s role in facilitating transparent communication and service valuation. Initiatives like the PETRONAS Gokart Challenge, alongside targeted training and industry meetings, aim to further professionalize the sector, enhancing both service quality and customer experience.

    As Poland’s vehicle fleet modernizes, the collaborative model offered by partner networks presents a viable path forward for independent workshops. By leveraging support in areas from technical training to customer service, these workshops are well-positioned to navigate the complexities of the contemporary automotive market, ensuring both their survival and growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.

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