Peaks and troughs of seasonal workflow to remain but good online presence is key
GSF Car Parts’ head of Servicesure, Paul Dineen, has predicted it could take five years to get some level of predictability back into the aftermarket.
Whilst working restrictions seem a distant memory, the legacy of the pandemic is still felt in many areas; most notably in the peaks and troughs of seasonal workflow.
He said: “In the past, an independent garage would have a good idea about the ebb and flow of work and plan accordingly.
“They could be reactive and gear up for the really busy periods, and proactive when it came to the quieter times.
“Now, with everything from MOT rescheduling to the cost-of-living crisis, the only certainty about what type of work will be on their ramps, is that which is already booked in.
“That’s not to say the outlook is bleak.
“On the whole, garages are busy and the UK car parc is getting older, which is positive for IMTs.
“The challenge for the industry is finding the right balance between staffing, scheduling, pricing and investing in their own development during this period of national volatility.
“The good news is there are clear opportunities to support workflow management by adapting to how customers now look for garage services, ensuring you’re visible in the places that they’re looking and emphasising the importance of regular vehicle maintenance to safe driving.
“Being online is the way forward, and not only to attract customers.
“It forms a huge part of the customer service experience these days.
“Having the ability to communicate via a website and social media is expected and it’s where the strength of your reputation for customer service and quality really becomes an asset on another level.”
Jim Lang, managing director at independent garage website specialists, Garage Services Online, agrees.
He added: “With the way websites can be built to attract very specific types of work at specific times of the year, there’s huge scope for independent garages to take control of exactly what goes on their ramps and when.
“We’re seeing that the garage owners who truly embrace online – and do it well – aren’t struggling with market unpredictability.
“Quite the opposite. They’re running the garage, rather than the garage running them.”