Opinion: New seasonal MOT demand to bring new opportunities for garages that prepare now

LKQ Euro Car Parts workshop solutions director Adam White on how to manage MOT demand and increase capacity

Opinion: New seasonal MOT demand to bring new opportunities for garages that prepare now

At the beginning of lockdown, the government extended the MOT certificates of vehicles that needed testing between 30 March 2020 and 29 March 2021, making them valid for 18 months instead of the usual 12.

However, with restrictions now easing, this extension has been scaled back, and it’s now only those vehicles that were due to be tested before 1 August that have an extra six months to get booked in.

March and April are traditionally when demand for MOTs is at its highest, but of those that were due, just 20 per cent of MOTs were completed in March this year, and 23 per cent in April.

This is likely to present a challenge over the next few months, with a spike of MOTs on the horizon.

Those with extended certificates that were effectively deferred will soon need to be completed, alongside those that were always due in autumn and winter.

Related: Garages asked to encourage customers to bring MOT test forward ahead of autumn rush

A recent study by the IAAF has shown that peak demand for MOTs will be 200 per cent above normal levels, expected between October and November.

Garages must plan ahead, to ensure they can manage this demand, safely, effectively and to a high standard.

Proactively contacting customers is an important first step to help manage bookings, and means the required levels of technician resource can be put in place.

We’re advising garages to start by working through their databases to identify which customers have MOTs or services due (or overdue), and encouraging them to bring their vehicles in.

At the same time, ensuring that the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures are in place in the workshop is key, to reassure customers that their health and safety is being taken seriously.

It’s important to remember that common reasons for MOT fails, such as faulty brakes and tyres, are also likely to be exacerbated with many cars sitting idle during lockdown.

Related: DVSA action to help manage MOT demand ‘not enough’, test stations say

This is where training is essential, to ensure new and existing testers can carry out MOTs to a high standard, as well as being able to complete a wide variety of other service, repair and diagnostics work.

Even though this year’s MOT CPD training window was extended due to the coronavirus crisis – meaning anyone who had not met the previous deadline is still cleared to test until March 31 2021 – we’re advising technicians to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Each year, testing standards undergo vital changes that are put in place to improve safety and drive quality.

If technicians don’t stay on top of these, they might overlook key details that could put their customers at risk.

This is especially important when considering the potential impact of lockdown on vehicles.

Opinion: We’ve got to move on from six-month MOT gripes and progress business

We offer IMI-approved MOT training – both full annual CPD and routine refresher courses – through our AutoEducation Academy.

Courses can easily be accessed online, making them a safe, convenient and hassle-free choice in the current climate.

And for those technicians who prefer a more hands-on approach, classroom-based programmes are also available.

Full risk assessments have been carried out and social distancing measures are in place.

Given the scale of the demand we anticipate for MOTs in the coming months, training additional team members could enable garages to take on more work – and bring in more revenue.

According to figures from the DVSA, there are currently around 65,000 qualified MOT testers in the UK, and 23,000 active stations.

Related: Cocaine-addicted tester blasted by judge after issuing fraudulent pass certificates

But calculations from LKQ Euro Car Parts show that closer to 60,000 active stations will be required to service the level of demand we expect in October and November, based on each one carrying out 12 MOTs per day, seven days a week.

Having more stations means there’s a need for more qualified testers, but investing in both will generate a return.

Our Easy Start Scheme is designed to help garages avoid a significant payment upfront, and can be used to pay for a MOT bundle, complete with a new bay and training courses for the team.

Encouraging customers to bring in their vehicles for an MOT – and carrying out the work to the highest standard – isn’t just good for business in the short term.

It will also help garages to build a loyal customer base, which then leads to word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat visits in future.

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