Our contributors discuss how the extended winter period has, for better or worse, affected their businesses.
Managing Director, Autosupplies (Chesterfield)
With the prolonged bout of bad weather we experienced in March,it has become clear to us as a business that it is essential to be fully prepared to accommodate an increase in product demand.
Here at Autosupplies, we have more than 60 vans on the roads delivering parts, whatever the weather, so that we can continue to meet customer requirements, even after the snow hit. That said, there are obstacles to overcome with a heavy downfall of snow and these can aﬀect business. It’s so important that the automotive aftermarket, and therefore distributors, ensure their delivery vans and staﬀ remain available during busy periods.
February in particular, we saw an increase in interest for winter-essential retail products, such as antifreeze and de-icer, and also components such as batteries, wipers, and rotating electrics. We’ve achieved record sales of batteries in recent months.
It’s during times such as these that a commitment to supplying quality becomes even more important. A quality parts supply also strengthens relationships with customers and ultimately ensures longterm customer satisfaction – garages only want to ﬁt the right product once.
Probably most, if not all, garages across the UK saw customer requirements increase considerably, and this would have been an opportune moment for businesses to look at their growth plans and assess whether they could facilitate such a demand. This allows distributors to plan eﬀectively for the future and make any appropriate changes.
Proprietor, Scotlands Ash Garage
The year so far has seen an extended period of extremely cold weather and dangerous driving conditions for motorists, leading to an increase in breakdowns, which has kept garages even busier than normal.
This is when communication with customers has been more important than at any other time, and at Scotlands Ash, we’ve provided relevant warnings where possible, harnessing the power of social media to focus predominantly on issuing road safety advice and promoting winter checks to maximise safety. It really is a garage’s role to raise awareness about common seasonal issues, such as standard vehicle checks, which will act as a form of preventative maintenance.
We like to think that, as we’ve experienced a surge in demand, we have been to some degree successful in getting the message across to motorists. From communicating the need to ensure that their vehicle is winterproof and prepared to handle these dangerous conditions, we have encouraged customers to get their tyres checked and make sure their car has been serviced.
On the subject of communication, the long chill has meant independent garages are relying on parts distributors more than ever to remain open and available, enabling technicians to service increased business.
But, as soon as the weather changes and we hit spring, we see an upsurge in MOT bookings. It’s amazing how quickly our attention must turn from the cold snap to issues of air conditioning systems!