13 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Slippery when wet

You know what I like about the winter? Not a whole heck of a lot. It’s cold, everything is wet, we have to run the lights for most of the day, and it’s cold. Did I mention the cold? Yuck. I feel like putting another layer on already, and a beanie hat too, to keep my head warm. I’m hunkered down in the office writing this, just to give myself an excuse to sit right next to the heater. I did tell you it’s cold, yes?

I complain, but at least we are working indoors. We have the space to do work outside, if we needed to, but thank goodness we don’t have to. Parkit Motors is an indoor enterprise all through the year. Like you though, we see a degree of seasonality in the work we see coming through the door. Battery issues are a big one right now, and have been since before the end of the old year. Those winter checks generated a lot of work that way. There were some cars with cooling/heating issues that presented themselves just as the first proper cold snap arrived. There were cars with blown headlight bulbs, which is more of a job than it used to be, and something we end up doing for the customers. Exhausts are giving up left, right and centre. We upsold a lot of wipers too. All this is stuff we are more than able to take in our stride.

If only it was all like this. Do you know what else I really hate about the winter? It’s the mystery jobs. Unexplained wetness – in the footwell I hasten to add – that’s a big one around this time of year. I really hate those. The cause could be anything from a pin-hole leak to a less-than secure door to a blocked vent somewhere far around the car that you’d never expect to cause a problem there. Sometimes we find the cause and sometimes we don’t. Part of the problem is that the cause is sometimes something beyond our skills set. We don’t have the kit to find tiny holes and so we have to swallow our pride and send the customer to a bodyshop.

The thing is, being someone that prides himself on being able to take on the jobs that others cannot follow through on, I am looking to skill-up and kit-up a little bit more in this area. I’m not saying I’m opening a bodyshop, well, not yet. I work very well with my crash repairer colleagues, as they do with me. I’d just rather not let my customers down and send them on. I mean, that’s what other garages do, and they send them here.

I’m always looking to close gaps like this. I just don’t like to see work slip away, when with a little application, it could be us dealing with the issue, and getting the fix for the customer.