Making the most of winter

Making the most of winter

The winter months bring certain opportunities and challenges for garages and factors alike. Here, David and Peter discuss how factors make the most of these opportunities, and overcome the challenges that the season brings.


Managing Director, Autosupplies (Chesterfield)

For the past few years, the winter sales period for motor factors has been stagnant at best. It’s always a difficult period, but as a business that is widely regarded for its high availability of products – and winter is no exception – we ensure that we are always fully stocked for whatever the weather.

There will always be cold snaps in the winter period, and here, we’re bound to see particular spikes in sales of batteries, bulbs and wiper blades. Certain products, such as coil springs, calipers and rotating electrics will see slight surges, but they’re not as seasonal as they were.

The winter season brings numerous challenges, and motor factors often have to utilise every available space within their business to store additional products. If there is too much bad weather in a short space of time, things come to a stop, and we’ve seen garages close up early. We try, wherever possible, to remain open, even at the weekend, to ensure customers continue to enjoy access to our ranges.

It’s also a time when retail plays a big part, as motorists are drawn to our stores when they need something in an emergency. As a result, we set about boosting the availability of products, namely of all winter related products, such as batteries, screen wash, de-icer, wiper blades and bulbs.

Factors should already be working with suppliers to see what they should put into stock and understand supplier delivery schedules over Christmas. With uncertainly surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, it pays to be prudent, and increase stock levels where you can.


Proprietor, Scotlands Ash Garage

We could do with a harsh winter. I predict that we will have one, and that it’ll be a good thing for the trade in what’s been an unpredictable year. I think a ‘good winter’ will also expose many people’s attitudes towards vehicle servicing.

We have seen first-hand that you can write the extent of dealership servicing on the back of a postage stamp, so when these vehicles typically enter the independent garage and aftermarket, they appear largely untouched.

As a result, when these are exposed, largely in an independent garage, and during the winter season or MOT test, the trade’s reputation can suffer. It therefore becomes a garage’s role to raise awareness of common seasonal issues – we, for example, offer standard vehicle checks as a form of preventative maintenance.

Winter is a time when communication with customers is vital. At Scotlands Ash, we provide relevant warnings where possible, harnessing the power of social media to focus predominantly on issuing roadsafety advice, and promoting winter checks in order to maximise safety.

It’s imperative to get the message across to motorists that they need to ensure their vehicle is both winter-proof and prepared to handle dangerous conditions. It’s vital to encourage them to get their tyres checked over, and to service their car.

We also need support from our motor factors; fitting parts during a busy winter period is key, and that can only happen if the product is of high quality and is supplied on time.

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