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

GW Columnist Luke Robinson outlines his business plans for next 12-months

Opinion: We’ve got to move on from six-month MOT gripes and progress business
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The MOT extension received huge criticism from garages across the country, with many suggesting it was ill-conceived and poorly executed.

Luke Robinson of Marchwoods Motor Engineers in Kent.

In reality it was a forced decision in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and realistically with so many garages closed or with so many technicians and testers furloughed, could we have coped with 100 per cent demand?

With so few using their cars during April, May and June, few garages could afford to keep the doors open without furloughing at least some, if not all, of the team.

To put the blame purely on the MOT exemption for this downturn in work is, in my opinion, naïve at best.

For us, July has been a particularly busy month, we have tested a similar number of vehicles that we usually expect to test at this time of year and our workshop is fully booked every single day.

We have enough business coming in and the April MOT extensions will be due through the doors any time now then a new seasonal MOT cycle will follow.

I know not everyone will like this but maybe a 12 month extension would have avoided the now inevitable seasonal MOT demand.

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

There’s the obvious road safety concerns too.

We’ve all seen plenty of horror pictures online – these are nothing new and we see them daily.

Just wait until we see the cars that have had a full six-month extension – these will be the ones that are really frightening.

The challenge for us now though, is to balance the MOT demand.

March was ridiculously busy with us testing even more than usual as customers panicked about a potential lockdown.

By April and May we tested just 30 per cent of our usual levels.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see what happens come October and November.

I’m hoping that this is where our customer relationship management will prove its worth.

We’ll be contacting our customers who have an MOT due in October earlier than we usually would to explain why it will be busier than usual and recommending they book in advance.

We can be proactive and look forward to April and May by setting up reminders for those customers who don’t need some of their recommended repairs carrying out straight away.

If we know they will need a job doing in about six months, we offer to send them a free reminder.

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We are lucky to have mini heatwaves in early spring most years and this year was particularly hot.

It provides an opportunity to maximise air conditioning servicing, filling in any gaps during April and May.

Provided that it is well timed, a small email, some social media posts and maybe some leaflets could go a long way – lets just hope the gas doesn’t get any more expensive.

The future of our industry isn’t as bleak as some would make it out to be – there are always opportunities.

Next spring 18-plate cars need their first MOT, the following spring 19-plate cars will need one too, so in a few years that seasonal difference will start to revert to something more like the ‘old normal’.

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