The decade of real change

The decade of real change

With 2019 having now drawn to a close, it’s time to see what the new decade will bring. David and Peter discuss the challenges of the previous year, the road ahead, and how factors can make the most of the upcoming changes.

David Clarke

Managing Director, Autosupplies (Chesterfield)

I think that 2019 has been a tale of two halves. The first half of the year was very good for the market, but the second has been very difficult, both due to Brexit uncertainty and a general election.

We are finding that the approach of investing in improved service levels and greater stockholding is a solitary one. Competitors are in the process of destocking, and this is helping us as we are able to fulfil customer demand.

Another thing that went well this year was the ‘Your Car – Your Choice’ campaign, which we were a leading player in. Taking it one step at a time, we were able to work with the information provided and educate garages on the benefits of fitting OE-equivalent aftermarket products.

We found that within independent garages, there is still a nervousness to fit non-genuine parts to vehicles less than three years old. The ‘Your Car Your Choice’ campaign gave us the opportunity to address this, often face-to-face with customers, and we have won new business as a result.

Training has also been a big part of our year, and we have conducted more training events with suppliers and United Garage Services than ever before. The takeup has been very strong, and we look forward to doing more in 2020.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to our industry’s suppliers. It has not been a comfortable year for many, with a lot of suppliers being forced into keeping additional stock. They have maintained their professionalism and through these challenges, they and the automotive aftermarket will emerge stronger.

Peter Welch

Proprietor, Scotlands Ash Garage

It’s been a strange end to the year for the garage trade. We’ve seen the volume of work decrease and while we have caught up with ‘larger’ jobs, these are often not the most profitable.

The decrease in work has been trying for us, as we are not in favour of discounting, especially not on MOTs. Motorists also seem to be more price conscious, but again, we as an industry should not give away our expertise for nothing.

Compare this ‘race to the bottom’ with the increase in the pace of technological change in the automotive aftermarket – something has to give. Motorists can’t expect us to invest in the latest technology and cover all makes of vehicle without charging appropriately for it.

One of the biggest issues for an independent garage is how they go to market with a new piece of equipment. We promote all of our investments so that motorists know what we’re about. We’re currently looking at ADAS and how we invest in that. The biggest issue is space, and we’re not a small independent garage by any means.

As an independent garage, we need to maintain our credibility in the wake of this technological revolution, to ensure confidence within our customer base. For decades, we’ve been saying that garages must invest or get left behind. We may now be entering the decade where we experience a real change in vehicle service and repair. Are you ready?

Related posts