About State of the Nation

Capricorn is committed to keeping a finger on the pulse of what's happening within the automotive industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Capricorn State of the Nation 2020 is the first in what will become an annual research project designed to gain an in-depth understanding of what's happening in our industry and what's important to Capricorn Members.
  • 15% NSW/ACT
  • 17% QLD
  • 10% SA/NT
  • 23% VIC/TAS
  • 13% WA
  • 22% NZ
Informed by responses from more than 1,500 Members across Australia and New Zealand, this research provides valuable, interesting and thought-provoking insights to help grow your business.

5 Key Takeaways for Auto Repair Shop Owners

1Work-life Balance

Members have told us they struggle to maintain work-life balance, yet it is a crucial first step to long-term success

2Succession Planning

Succession planning is a big, gaping hole across the board - alarmingly so in Members moving towards retirement age

3Know Your Value

Members need to get savvy about what services we charge for and how much they charge

4Passive Marketing

Our Members are too reliant on passive marketing streams like word-of-mouth referrals and repeat customers

5New generation

To attract a new generation, the industry is going to have to show a much more lucrative value proposition to running an auto repair business


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Biggest Challenges Facing Automotive Industry

  • Changing technology
  • Lack of qualified staff
  • Lower margins
  • Access to technical information
  • Attracting young people to industry
  • Capped price servicing/long warranties
  • Price comparison platforms
  • Lack of trust from consumers
  • Electric cars
  • Lack of structured training/accreditation
  • Environmental considerations
  • Other

Setting Prices on Parts

Just under half of businesses apply a set mark up to parts, with a third matching the recommended retail price. One in 4 use their best judgement, or decide based on the cost of the part or nature of the job (the latter is particularly the case for Mobile Mechanics).

By Business Type

Add a set % mark-up for all parts 43%
Matching the retail price 35%
Decide the mark-up depending upon the cost of the part 27%
Using your best judgement 24%
Decide on the mark-up depending on the nature of the job 21%
Other 4%
Don’t know 1%

Do you fit customer supplied parts?


Hourly rates for labour need to increase significantly to lower the financial impact on your business when customers supply their own parts... Keeping parts’ prices competitive will mean the customer has nothing to gain by purchasing their parts online. These workshop owners told us what’s working for them, challenges they are experiencing, and other insights on a range of topics from technology, the future of the workforce, customers and the case for charging more.

Mark Cooper, Capricorn Chairman

Reasons for level of Confidence in Business's Future

  • Loyal/returning customer base
  • Business growth/will continue to grow
  • Longevity/time in business
  • Changing industry/tech
  • General negative (eg: workload, competitors)
  • Staff/team
  • Confidence in their offer/passionate
  • Good operations & investment
  • Financial factors
  • Good word of mouth
  • Economic/environmental changes
  • Other
  • No reason/don’t know


The approximate average annual turnover for Members

24 Years

Members have been working an average of

in the industry and running their own workshop for 18.


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Why are vehicles sent to dealers?

  • Software Updates
  • Diagnostics
  • Sensor Alignment
  • Other

If Members fail to keep up with technology, they will eventually go out of business. Keeping up with technology is critical for our Members’ future success.

Mark Cooper, Capricorn Chairman.

Diagnostic Costs

Only a third of workshops always charge customers for use of scan tools and diagnostic software, as well as the time taken for diagnostics.

Scan Tools & Time Taken

Does your business charge for...
  • Always
  • Sometimes
  • Never
Time taken to diagnose problems
  • Always
  • Sometimes
  • Never
Using scan tools or diagnostic software

Know your value. Charge more because you’re worth it. No one wins in a race to the bottom.

Brad Gannon, Capricorn CEO of Automotive

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CapHub is a new resource helping Capricorn Members build stronger businesses. This online content hub provides valuable content to help you better run your business including bite-size hints and tips.

Quick Wins

Industry advice to fast-track business growth.

Full Data and Analysis

Broken down by business sector type

Parts pricing and wages

Find out what other Members are paying.

Marketing Information

See how other workshops are promoting themselves

Technology Trends

What new tech is being used and what does it mean for you

What success looks like

How you can measure success

Note: Nothing on this page is intended to constitute legal, financial or other independent professional advice. Please consult your professional adviser before relying on any information contained herein.