13 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Accept all cookies?

I was feeling peckish at the end of the day yesterday – well it was nearly closing time, so I headed for the biscuit tin. A hobnob or a digestive or some sort of cookie will usually give me another 20 minutes, and perhaps an extra inch within my overalls around the waist, but I digress. However, when I got to our little kitchen, the cupboard was locked. This was a double-surprise to me as last week it was your average common-or-garden kitchen unit. However, come Monday it sported a shiny new heavy-duty padlock. This was Mrs P’s way of telling me that the diet she was making me go on was non-negotiable. 

Naturally, I did what any dieter would do in this situation; I went to the toolbox, got some screwdrivers out and disassembled the cupboard. I then took my biscuit and went back to work. Who says I have blood sugar issues? And what does “Hangry” mean?

Anyway, after I received a severe ear-bashing from my beloved garage manager, it got me thinking about something that happened last week. We had a relatively recent Fiat in, not that we don’t see these, but this situation was different. It had the engine warning light on, so I duly plugged into the OBD port, only to find we could not get any further as we did not have the required certificate to allow us to continue. Well, actually, we did. I had without really thinking picked up an older tool, one I’m very used to using, and tried to connect with that. So, realising my mistake, I got my more recent device from the shelf, the one that allows me to access these things, plugged in and Bob’s your Uncle, bibbidi -bobbidi-boo, issue solved.

This was not a problem for me because I had the kit and the access already sorted, I was just being stupid that day (I must have been hungry then too). What about for a less-prepared workshop? Such a crisis could involve casting around for a friendly garage who has the access who feels like sharing, going off cap-in-hand to the local dealer, or worse still, having to tell the customer they need to take their car somewhere else, which could mean never seeing that customer again. 

Of course, the bigger problem is carmakers looking to claw their way into the aftermarket, which is why this problem exists. Believe it or not, we are where the real money is. Think about that next time you need a favour from a franchised dealer. They might have a glass-and-steel palace to work out of, and a much nicer coffee machine, but remember, part of them wants to be you, or at least be doing what you are doing. So, just make sure you can keep on doing it. Access to the car can be a real problem, and it could get worse, so make sure you are ready. It’s not like the internet where you will be asked to “accept cookies” when opening a website, but if someone offers you one from the tin while you are working, don’t say no.