The aftermarket is beginning to normalize to pre-pandemic levels, shrinking from 2022’s soaring highs as it recovered from COVID-related declines.

According to the J.D. Power 2023 Canada Customer Service Index—Long-Term (CSI-LT) Study, the auto service market has shrunk to $9.1 billion, from $10.9 billion last year.

Service visits per year are down. But as cost of living continues to spike, the study found that Canadians are paying more for maintenance and repair work than last year.

J.D. Power Canada automotive practice lead J.D. Ney said in a press release that inflation “has certainly had an effect on automotive service.”

“Average spend per service visit is up year-over-year at both dealerships and aftermarket facilities — yet the number of service visits is down. While the pandemic caused a decline in service visits and revenue, the market has rebounded strongly. Now, we’re seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels for service on 4- to 12-year-old vehicles,” he said.

The average cost per visit at a dealership for service work is $423, up from $394 in 2022. For independent shops, the average ticket total comes in at $262, a slight increase of $15 from last year.

The study brings good news for dealers as this service segment continues to gain market share, “at the expense of the aftermarket sector.”

Of the total market revenue this year, dealerships have grown to claim 61% of that market, up from 58% in 2022. They are also seeing more service visits than third-party aftermarket providers. Dealerships’ number of average annual visits went up to 1.7 from 1.5 a year ago. And the increase in market share equates to another $250 million.

When it comes to dealerships with the best customer service in their service centers, Lexus and Volkswagen topped the back in the J.D. Power Canada study, in tie for first place. Each came in with a score of 842. This is the second year in the first-place spot for Lexus. In third is Toyota with a score of 815.

In the aftermarket segment, Jiffy Lube is the preferred service center. Great Canadian Oil Change ranks second.

Moving beyond the data results, J.D. Power also highlighted a couple key findings from the study that could positively impact a service business if taken into account.

First, “doing it right the first time.” Aftermarket facilities tend to better make sure vehicles are fixed and ready the first time around, perhaps showing an opportunity for improvement for dealerships.

The study showed aftermarket facilities correctly complete service work the first time 95% of the time, while dealers came in with 93%, reflecting a continuing decline which began in 2021.

Next up, the drivers of dealerships and aftermarket business seems to vary. Almost two-thirds (61%) of owners who chose a dealership over an aftermarket facility cite previous experience with the dealership as the main reason. This shows how important customer loyalty can be.

Convenience of location (42%) and recommendation from friends and family (23%) are the most important factors for picking an aftermarket service facility.

The Canada Customer Service Index—Long-Term (CSI-LT) Study measures service usage and satisfaction among owners of vehicles that are 4- to 12-years old and analyzes the customer experience in both warranty and non-warranty service visits.

See the Auto Remarketing Canada newsletter Thursday this week to hear more from J.D. Power analysts on what vehicle owners are looking for in a service shop or dealership service center.