Tag Archives: automotive

Top tips for maintaining sales and incomes for technicians

Although Brexit continues to hit the headlines, it is just one of many changes that are likely to have a significant impact on the automotive sector. Henry Bisson, Marketing Manager for Ring, explains some challenges to be tackled head-on if the future is to be bright for the automotive aftermarket.

Vehicle ownership has changed. There are more three-year contracts, meaning fewer people own the vehicles they drive, and the servicing is often within a package. This means less business for independent technicians and garages. In addition, with rolling contracts, motorists don’t even need to worry about MOTs, which has a further impact on the aftermarket. Dealerships have their own dedicated teams of technicians that they can rely on to make any repairs, and whilst it may make owning a car simpler for the driver, it causes no end of headaches for local garages that have spent years building up a loyal client base.

Then there is the possible legislation that will extend the MOTs on new vehicles from three to four years, again causing a knock-on effect for independents that rely on consistent trade from testing and repairs. With times changing and fewer people owning the vehicles that they drive, these are our tips for technicians that want to maintain sales and where possible increase their bottom line.

 

    1. The first thing that technicians need to do is consider how they are packaging their products. Many garages rely on a standard range of lighting as an example, but the opportunity to upsell comes from having performance bulbs that can add value to the driving experience for the customer, giving them brighter and whiter light on the roads.This isn’t just about sales, it is about safety, thinking about things differently and offering better performing products that last longer will improve sales.
    2. Providing people with some advice on what to look for before their MOT is a further opportunity to reinforce customer loyalty. Focusing on prevention rather than the cure, technicians can spend five minutes showing a customer a check list of what to look out for. Although the return won’t be immediate, giving people advice in relation to tyre care, LED lighting for licence plates and battery maintenance checks will give the customer an experience that they are more likely to remember. Better still, should the customer require any of these accessories they will know where to go to get them.
    3. Although vehicle ownership is an immediate concern to the aftermarket, connected cars are certainly an ongoing consideration for the future. Not only will connected cars have an impact on technicians but also on the talent and skills of the next generation of garage mechanics. Self-drive cars will mean less maintenance and fewer repairs and the internet of everything will result in connected cars. Whilst this is certainly an exciting evolution for the automotive industry, we also need to consider the real impact it will have. Garages will no longer will be able to rely on basic diagnostic tools to identify a fault in a vehicle. Connected cars will use the latest digital technologies to create the functionality that a driver will come to expect from the most innovative vehicles on the road. Technicians will still need to know how to change engines, batteries and tyres but fundamentally it is not outside of the realms of possibility that they will also require a digital degree to be competent when it comes to connectivity.

 

The aftermarket has long been considered a sector that sits within professional manual labour, however as times change we are going to need to rely on some of the most advanced engineers in the market to upskill and most importantly prepare the talent of tomorrow for a very different approach to the aftermarket. This also raises further questions in relation to the accessories that will be required. Although it is too soon to make any assumptions, there is likely to be a shift to technology and digital based items that will be required alongside bulbs, tyre and battery maintenance and this is something we all need to be prepared for.

It’s spring – time to check your caravan!

Spring is finally here! The temperature is rising, the clocks have gone forward and it’s time to get the caravan out.

But before you hit the road, you need to take the time to check your caravan to make sure everything is in full working order. Whether it’s been parked up all winter or not, a once over is crucial to make sure you stay safe and avoid a breakdown.

So here is our check-your-caravan checklist, to help you enjoy caravanning this year.

1. Check your tyres
Check your tyre pressure before you travel – under- or over-inflated tyres can make driving less safe, and reduce your fuel efficiency. To check the pressure, a gauge is the best option, and a tyre inflator is a good investment for topping up tyres easily wherever you are. Try a larger inflator to quickly inflate larger tyres. You also need to check that your tyre tread meets the legal limit of 1.6mm – a tread gauge is the best way to do this. If your tyres are below the limit, they need replacing. You can find more details on tyre care here.

2. Check all connections, plugs and sockets
Make sure all the electrics between the caravan and towing vehicle are properly connected and in good working order. Any that are faulty or looking worn need to be replaced.

3. Brakes
Fully working brakes are obviously a travel essential. You need to check that the brake drum and shoes are in the right place on all wheels, and adjust if not. You also need to check the handbrake. This article outlines how to test both brakes, but if you’re unsure, you may want to ask an expert.

4. Clean water system
Water systems can be breeding grounds for algae and bacteria, so it’s essential to clean it out before you travel. Using a special cleaning agent to flush the system to make sure it’s sterilised and ready for use. If you are replacing any old pipes, make sure to get non-transparent lines: algae needs sunlight to grow, so having pipes that aren’t see through will stop this happening.

5. Lights
Check all the bulbs on your caravan are working, and replace any that aren’t. It might be worth getting a spare bulb kit to have in the car, just in case a bulb goes while you’re on the road. It is a legal requirement that all trailers – including caravans – have two red sidelights, two red stoplights, two red reflective triangles, an illuminated number plate and amber indicators. If your caravan is over 1.3m wide, it will also need at least one fog lamp. You can get trailer boards and light units that can meet these requirements.

6. Check corner stabilisers
Your stabilisers will keep the caravan steady when you’re walking around in it – so they’re essential for a happy holiday. Make sure they are wound all the way up to keep the ‘van steady when you’re in it, and keep it safe when you’re driving.

7. Charge battery
If your caravan’s battery hasn’t been used in a while, it will likely have gone flat. Even if it hasn’t, it’s a good idea to give it a charge to get it back to full strength. A standard charger will top it up, but if you use a smart charger, it will apply a multi-stage cycle to charge, protect and repair your battery.

8. Check gas system
Getting your gas system properly serviced is an essential part of caravan maintenance. Servicing from a professional is essential, but between services you can also carry out some basic checks: look over the piping and see if there are any obvious cracks at the joints.

9. Fluid levels
Getting fluid levels topped up is a quick job that could save you a lot of hassle later. Coolant, oil and brake fluids all need checking and topping up if necessary.

10. Breakaway cable
It is a legal requirement for any trailer or caravan with brakes to have a breakaway cable. This cable is an emergency back up in case the trailer or caravan becomes detached from the towing vehicle – it could stop a technical malfunction from becoming far more serious and dangerous. Check yours is properly connected and in good condition.