Tag Archives: mechanics

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.

Take control of your own destiny

As the headlines continue to be dominated with speculation about what plan will be put in place as a result of Brexit, the automotive industry is already feeling the impact of uncertainty. Ring explains how it is taking control of its own destiny.

Marketing Manager for Ring, Henry Bisson comments: “As an exporter of thousands of products every year, there was never any doubt that Brexit would have an impact on the business, we just didn’t know exactly what that would look like.

“The effect on currency exchange has already been felt by many with the dollar strengthening against the pound, meaning that the cost of goods has increased with no material price increase. Then there is the euro also gaining strength against the pound. This results in a double impact as we pay more but ultimately sell for less when euros are converted back to pounds.

“The obvious concern is that goods from the UK become consistently higher cost, encouraging customers to go elsewhere. Prices are already rising at the pump as people try to recover the gap caused by buying in dollars. This means logistics and distribution costs are rising, so eventually prices for aftermarket products will too.

“Conversely, in Europe, volume sales are rising as they benefit from the increase in the value of the euro against the pound. It can be argued that this does bridge the gap short-term but we have to consider the longer-term impact of Brexit.”

Working with distributors and retailers across Europe, Ring has remained close to contacts since the European referendum to monitor the changing reaction as Brexit talks begin.

Bisson continues: “Following the initial announcement, and the headlines that ‘vote out’ created, contacts have become cautious. They, like us, are waiting to find out exactly what happens now. In the short-term it’s business as usual but how long this continues is unpredictable.

Having such a strong network across Europe has given Ring a greater insight into the reaction of those it works with and has therefore also given the business a chance to step back and consider what its own response will be.

Bisson continues: “Predictions and speculation are exactly that. Until we get a roadmap that has the facts the industry will find it difficult to plan and that is why we have chosen to take control. We need to be ahead of the game and we intend to secure our business across Europe.

“We’ve worked hard to establish the Ring brand across Europe over the last 10-years and have a strategy in place to ensure that this will continue. Business across Europe has reported growth year-on-year as we offer an alternative to the traditional markets. In order for us to build on this success, and to reinforce our intentions and commitment to Europe, we will be investing in these markets.

“Far from waiting to see what happens, we are budgeting to invest in Europe and very much see the markets as an opportunity for further and future growth.”

In the wider automotive market, with more than 30 million cars on the roads in the UK, the industry is not going to disappear overnight. However, as an industry that relies heavily on export, predictions may signal the end for some foreign businesses that could simply feel it is too expensive to produce in the UK.

Bisson concludes: “We can only predict what foreign owners will do and use past experience to influence this. We are hopeful that production will not be moved from the UK, which would result in the loss of skills and jobs.

“That is why we are choosing to take a more pragmatic approach to Brexit. We can’t change it but we can plan for change and use this as an opportunity to strengthen the business in what will inevitably become an increasingly competitive and turbulent marketplace.”

Technician inspects engine bay.

DVSA raises the bar for MOT testers

Last month, the DVSA announced that the pass mark for the assessment to become an MOT tester is to rise from 50% to 60% – meaning that mechanics and technicians will have to work harder to be able to carry out MOT tests.

Integral to garages
Every car owner must take their car into a workshop at least once a year – for the annual MOT. For garages, it’s a good way to get customers through the door and maintain contact. Plus, the annual service and MOT means that other problems will become apparent, and more work can be carried out. So being a registered MOT test site has definite advantages, even if the profits on running the actual tests are low. Many would see carrying out MOTs as a typical feature of a garage – whether that’s a chain or an independent.

The government regulates who can carry out MOTs, demanding that all MOTs “must be conducted within authorised vehicle testing stations (VTSs) by nominated testers (NTs) approved to test the class of vehicle by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)”. To take the test to become a tester, you must:
• Have a current and full UK Driving Licence in the class of vehicles you wish to test.
• Be nominated by an Authorised Examiner.
• Have four years’ experience working on class of vehicles you wish to test.
• No ‘unspent’ convictions for criminal offences connected with the MOT Testing Scheme or the motor trade, or involving acts of violence or intimidation.

Annual review
The changes come into play after the introduction of the yearly MOT review, as opposed to the five-year refresher test that used to apply. The requirements are that each tester has three hours of training per year – one hour less overall than the 16 hours required every five years.

The moves indicate that the DVSA is focusing on raising standards. Some reports suggest that this increase in the pass mark is the first to be implemented – Garage Wire, the industry publication, has heard that the pass mark could be as high as 80% by 2021. This remains unconfirmed, though – for the moment, the 60% mark is the main change.

MOT test changes – the stats
• 60% – the new pass mark to become and MOT tester.
• 3 hours – amount of training needed per year to remain and MOT tester.
• Once a year – how often refresher course must be taken.
• Four years – minimum years of work experience working on the class of vehicle a tester wishes to test.

Four simple steps to make fitting HID bulbs safer

HID bulbs are not new; in fact they have been around for several years. But even though they are a preferred option for many manufacturers, they are still causing some controversy in the aftermarket as mechanics remain nervous about fitting them. Henry Bisson, Ring Marketing Manager, explains four simple steps to make fitting HID bulbs safe.

“Times have changed and the technology in relation to bulbs has evolved. HID bulbs are now more common and no longer restricted to premium or luxury cars. Many models now fit HID as standard and although it was widely reported that they would last the lifetime of a car, it is typically three to five years, which has made replacing them more common than was expected.

“Changing these bulbs can seem complex when compared to standard bulbs. The main difference is that HID bulbs have no filament; they rely on a glass capsule in the centre of the bulb that contains xenon gas. Two metal electrodes going into the glass capsule allow a high voltage pulse to cross the xenon gas in an arch shape. The voltage ignites the gas to produce the bright white light output.

“For the bulbs to create such a bright light, the start-up voltage that pulses across the gas to form the arch is typically up to 24,000 volts. This start-up voltage can be hazardous, and this is what puts many technicians off, however any perceived risk can be easily avoided if mechanics follow four simple steps.”

  1. Isolate the light circuit. Turn off the ignition and headlight switch. Isolate the headlamp circuit by removing the relevant lighting fuse.
  2. Leave the bulb to cool down for five minutes.
  3. Proceed to change the bulb, as you would a normal headlamp. Remove the bulb cover. Unplug the bulb connector, then remove the HID bulb, replacing it with the same reference type.
  4. Once the bulb has been replaced, reverse the fitting process remembering to re-install the fuse.

“The benefits of being able to confidently replace HID bulbs are two-fold. When mechanics realise how simple it is, they will no longer have to turn business away and certainly won’t be suggesting that customers go back to their main dealer. In turn, they can promote the fitting of HID bulbs to increase sales, leading to increased profits.

“Mechanics being nervous is understandable but it is important that we keep up with technologies to give the driver the optimum experience. Taking the time to learn how to change these bulbs safely could make a big difference to a garage and will almost certainly maximise profits.”

For more details on HID fitting, take a look at this video for a fitter’s guide.

HID Gas Group HI RES

 

The complete range
There are four cap type references of HID bulbs; D1, D2, D3 and D4. These all come with a suffix of R or S. Bulbs with the suffix R are designed to work in complex surface headlamp units and those with an S are designed to work in projector headlamps.

The XenonHID5500 from Ring is available in three references; D2R – R851265K, D2S – R851225K and D1S – R854025K. Producing up to 20% more light on the roads than a standard HID bulb and with a colour temperature of 5500K, the bulb output is closer to daylight and creates better reflections from road markings and signs. The bulbs produce a similar light to LEDs and all Ring HID bulbs are manufactured to OEM standards and come with a three-year warranty. They are also E marked.

Importantly, HID bulbs and HID headlamp systems are only street legal if the bulbs being fitted are E marked and fitted to cars that have auto levelling to prevent dazzle and a wash/wipe to prevent the light scattering from dirt on the lens.

Ring introduces CRI inspection lamp to award-winning range

The award-winning inspection lamp range from Ring has a new addition with the introduction of the Colour Rendering Index (CRI) inspection lamp. This latest development brings a unique technology that will make life easier for mechanics and body shop technicians.

Introducing CRI technology
CRI is a measure of a light source’s ability to show object colours “realistically” or “naturally” compared to daylight.

CRI is a very desirable technological development in colour-critical environments such as body shops, garages and workshops. Technicians will have the power to determine whether a paint job has been accurately matched to the existing colour.

This advanced piece of kit will also highlight scratches, marks and other undesirable blemishes – giving you a consistent paint job, time and time again.

New technology – same high quality performance
The R(E)IL5500CRI and R(E)IL5300CRI are constructed from aluminium, making them strong yet surprisingly lightweight – perfect for demanding environments where a reliable handheld inspection tool is crucial.

The Al5 CRI Lamp

The Al5 CRI Lamp

Matching set
Other additions to our award-winning range of inspection tools are the R(E)IL5500HP Al5 LED Inspection Lamp and the R(E)IL5300HP Al3 LED Inspection Lamps, which comes in three colours. They use state-of-the-art COB LED technology that provides a super bright light output. Concave design and aluminium body protects the lens from damage, making it perfect for use in garages and workshops.

To further protect the lens the exterior glass has been toughened – giving you peace of mind your R(E)IL5500HP/R(E)IL5300HP range will continue to produce a super bright, wide angled, beam pattern. It comes complete with an integral hanging hook and strong magnetic mount for hands-free use.

For further information and to see our full award-winning range of inspection tools click here.