23 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Imagine this parallel universe…

A series of beautiful Snap-on boxes (other boxes are available) filled with shiny tools, with plenty to share and they belong to your garage. A youngster comes straight from school, meets the team and is shown around the tools. Soon they will have one in their hand and will embark on their new career.
The tool man, let’s call him Tim (because guess what?) visits and chats to the team, checks to see they have all they need and then goes to the garage owner and tries to make a sale to fulfil these needs. Tim knows this isn’t an easy task, but because in this parallel universe technicians do not buy their own tools, this is what happens each week.
This is the type of universe that I think should be our reality.
Now, I know some of you reading this will say this is a stupid idea and it would cost a fortune. Yes, a fortune that the young newcomers are supposed to find in what is not an affluent trade when they are on an apprenticeship wage. Yes, that seems reasonable to me. Just in case my writing is a little weak here, I will just add that was sarcasm. I am, in fact, screaming at you.
Yes, it would cost more to start a garage and yes, some spanners would go missing. Yes, there are many other reasons why not to do it this way.  Of course, the most common reason why not is because this is how it’s done in the motor trade; It’s just the way we do it. You cannot even imagine this crazy new world, can you?
Forget the negatives for a minute, and bear with me. This is why, and this is what we need to do. This is the crux, the key point. Brace yourself for it; Garages should keep their tools overnight in those shiny locked boxes until the next day when the garage is open again. Simple.
So simple I think some of you haven’t noticed what I said. Or more significantly what I didn’t say. The end of grubby jobs! That is Yorkshire for cash-in-hand if you didn’t know. You cannot do them when you haven’t got the tools. Now, this is not said out of meanness or tightness. This is intrinsically the way our garage started up; A job for a pal, then a pal’s pal and then, you’ve guessed it, a pal’s, pal’s, pal…and I’ve lost count.
In short, you deserve, and that new kid starting tomorrow deserves a better future and to get that we need to change.

All these out-of-hours grubby jobs are the reason this trade can’t afford its own toolboxes and why many garage-folk are never far-off skint but working hard and long hours. This is why the highly skilled are just not being paid enough, and why so few stay in the trade. It is our own fault. These jobs on a night for cash, don’t get me started on it, devalue us all and hold back wages.
Who can blame that youngster though? He or she gradually became the highly qualified tech still doing the same job. They needed the tool to do our work and as soon as they had the right tool, remember now their own tool, to do with as they pleased, then they soon could do that job, or think they can, another thing not to get me started on. They needed to pay for that spanner and then pay for the next one and then…
We need to think differently to become different. Remember our aim; Professional not profession.