13 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

The 12 jumpers of Christmas

Another Christmas approaches for us here at Parkit Motors. Yet again, Mrs P will indulge her passion for decorating the reception, with a rotating selection of seasonal jumpers being threatened as well. What’s worse, she doesn’t just mean herself. She’s been making noises about having the other front-of-house staff wear them too, all carefully choreographed so no one wears the same one on the same day. There’s more though – she wants me in on this too!

“But I need to be in my professional workwear” I protested, waving around a clean set of double-knee trousers and a Parkit Motors polo shirt I had handy. After all, it was her idea we go down the branded gear route in the first place. Very smart we look too, especially in the photos we had done for the local paper when we announced kick-off on winter checks recently. One of the advantages of becoming a contributor to this august organ of mass communication was that it opened my eyes to just how simple it can be to get some free publicity. Write a story that gives the local paper everything they need for an interesting story, and they will probably pick up on it. You think our industry has problems? Look at local newspapers. We are thriving by comparison. They have had the internet chipping away at their market for over 20 years. Meanwhile, the average age of cars in the UK gets higher every year, and almost every single one of those will be going to an independent garage.

I know we have a lot to deal with. The constant messaging telling us it’s going to be all EVs in the next 15 minutes, then almost no EVs as most of them are being sold to fleets, and they are being serviced by my friends in the franchised dealers. Actually, that’s not entirely true, but it feels true. As I said just last month, we are set up for EVs, and we do see some. Of course, being an independent, it depends on what your customers are buying, and if they choose to bring it to you.

Back to the Christmas jumpers then. As you would imagine, I lost the argument hands-down. I somehow negotiated my way to only not wearing it when I am in the workshop. If I am in the office, and, here’s the bad bit, out of the garage on business, I have to wear it. The problem with this time of year is that since Halloween, everywhere you look you are sold a snowy vision of a frozen December that is perpetually about 5.30pm on Christmas Eve. In that situation, a Christmas jumper is just fine, but on an unseasonably warm morning on Wednesday 6 December? You feel a bit of an idiot.

I know I’m not winning this one though. In fact, she’s at it again, and has gotten the paper to send the photographer down to show us all in our Yuletide finery. Apparently we are the happiest garage in town. I’ll just grin and get on with it then.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!