15 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Scary times?

Scary times eh? No, I’m not talking about Halloween, about which Mrs P has been her usual decorative self, I’m talking about the last two years, well nearly three years now. The pandemic, lockdowns, reopening, parts supply issues, manpower shortages, the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, surging fuel prices, the list goes on.

Looking specifically at the issues that affect us as a garage business, while the parts supply problem is relatively recent, staffing was a concern in this sector long before COVID-19. Considering our business model depends on attracting and retaining customers, I sometimes think it is ironic that we are so bad as an industry at getting people to work in the sector, and then managing to encourage them to stay.

When we are looking to attract customers, we are likely to highlight the fact that we have made investments in the best equipment, but we are also priced competitively. However, when we look to take on staff, we often train them as little as is practically possible, and pay them the smallest amount we think we can get away with. Why is this? Whether we are looking at taking on apprentices straight out of college, or enticing experienced technicians to our side, we won’t apply the methods we use to get our customers through the door. Perhaps we should. If you consider the cost of taking on new staff, would it not be more cost-effective to pay them better?

Am I dipping my hand deeper into the garage’s pockets to pay the staff? Well, I’d say we have always paid competitively in our area. Our staff turnover is pretty low too, and when people do leave, for the most part it has been for a positive reason. I’d like to think of myself as a father figure, and I think I have looked after everyone pretty well.

With the move to electric vehicles, the need for investment in training only gets greater. If we are going to spend money on upskilling our team, we want them to stick around. This means we need to look at how we are keeping them here. When I say we, here at Parkit Motors we have this covered. We pay well, as I said, and we are as flexible as a business of this type can be. We have regular cake days, we look to progressively train staff to advance them, we try to reward the team in various ways, and we have regular cake days. I already said that? Well that’s true, but cake day comes around pretty often, so that’s alright.

The point is that we are investing in our staff, helping them to progress in the industry. I don’t expect them all to stay, but many do. What I intend is to do my part to help the whole sector. What would be scary is doing nothing, and just letting the shortfall in the industry rise and rise. Is there a spooky decoration Mrs P can put up on that theme though?