Around the Industry: Shift in Service Bay Count and Share

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According to the Lang Aftermarket iReport, there were 36,000 fewer car and light truck service bays in the U.S. at mid-year 2014 than 10 years earlier.

While Service Stations and Garages suffered a 10,000 bay loss from 2004 to 2014, Repair Specialists and Foreign Specialists each operated significantly more service bays last year than during 2004, with Tire Stores recording a modest bay gain.

“Service bay expansion in the U.S., over the past 10 years, has been confined to independent (non-dealer) repair outlet groups with above average foreign nameplate repair growth,” said Jim Lang, president of Lang Marketing. “Bay population losses among independent DIFM outlet groups were suffered by those lagging in foreign nameplate repair share and growth. Dealer bay losses, in contrast, were prompted by the sharp drop of dealer outlets following the implosion of new car and light truck sales, which began in 2008 and extended over five years.”

Repair specialists — outlets offering a limited menu of service and maintenance jobs — added 30,000 light vehicle service bays between 2004 and 2014, boosting their total bay share, according to the Lang Aftermarket iReport. The success of repair specialists in expanding foreign nameplate repair enabled them to increase their bay count, while the total light vehicle service bays shrank nearly 3 percent.

The service bay population of tire stores increased 4 percent during these 10 years. Service bay growth by tire stores was largely a result of their expanding foreign nameplate DIFM market share.

Despite increasing their overall DIFM product share over the past 10 years, service stations and garages continue to lag in foreign nameplate DIFM market share growth, Lang reported. Although service stations and garages are expanding foreign nameplate repair, their foreign nameplate service ticket volume is growing at a slower pace than the total foreign nameplate DIFM market across the U.S.

“This service bay population trend will continue,” Lang said. “While Lang Marketing projects light vehicle bay count across the U.S. will decrease approximately 4,000 during 2015 through 2017, repair specialists and foreign specialists will be the only two major DIFM outlet groups significantly adding service bays.”

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