Opinion: Don’t be a busy fool

GW columnist, Luke Robinson is optimistic for the future but urges garage owners to start planning now for a changing aftermarket

Opinion: Don’t be a busy fool
Image: Bigstock.

It’s no surprise that our car parc is ageing. What may surprise you though is the real reasons why.

Luke Robinson of Marchwoods Motor Engineers in Folkestone.

Many of us will automatically think to blame Covid or Brexit, but what about the more subtle, personal reasons?

I’m sure most of us have had a conversation with a customer about electric cars.

In my experience most of those conversations end similarly with ‘I want to get an electric car, but I just want to wait until they are a bit better’ and so Mr Smith keeps his car for a few more years.

How many of us, concerned by rising costs over the last 18 years, will put off that big expense, just to see how things go?

Perhaps, it’s not just a shortage of semiconductors, Covid or Brexit after all?

What we do know for sure, is our customers are keeping their cars longer, but what does this mean for us?

Well firstly, we need to make sure we continue to look after them, maybe even better than we already do.

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Whilst the customer and their vehicle potentially have a few more years in the independent aftermarket, the dealerships are not going to just give up on these vehicles.

We’re already seeing lots of marketing to keep the vehicle in franchise for not just 3 years, but 5, 7 or even more.

Perhaps we are about to see some new initiatives or a more targeted approach from some marques?

Now will be the time for us to really strengthen our customer relationships.

An ageing car parc should do well to keep our workshops nice and full for the next few years, but what’s more exciting is the potential return on investment.

I can’t think of any other trade that requires so many specialist tools that are out of date in such a short time span, this is a huge opportunity to make those timing belt tools and suspension bush tools that only work for a handful of cars really earn their money.

The increased longevity gives us profit not only by a reduced cost per use, but also potentially a lesser need to purchase newer tools quite as often.

It’s no suprise that the older the car, the more repairs it is likely to need, both while servicing the vehicle and carrying out the MOT, or through the year with extra repairs or breakdowns.

There really should be no excuse for an empty workshop.

I think the issue really comes when we fail to control the workload and book in too much.

Related: UK motorists predicted to buy over 330,000 new electric vehicles in 2022

Nobody wants to be a busy fool, we have all been there, it’s stressful and you don’t earn any money.

Keeping a good balance will be vital over the next few years, but if we do it right, we should all have a great flow of work to keep us happy.

I think we all have a really good opportunity over the next few years, more repairs, longer customer lifespan and the MOT status Quo should start to return too.

But while we’re all making hay, it’s just worth remembering that over 25 per cent of new cars sold in 2021 were electrified in one way or another.

They will be knocking at our doors in three years, maybe sooner.

These will be the next cars that our customers bring to us and we need to know how to fix these too.

Share your comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting reading and so true .


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