Tag Archive | "Independent Garages"

WHAT WILL AUTONOMOUS CARS MEAN FOR GARAGES?

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WHAT WILL AUTONOMOUS CARS MEAN FOR GARAGES?


Euro Car Parts CEO Martin Gray

We live in a time of regular announcements about trials of connected autonomous vehicles as manufacturers race to be first to offer self-driving cars. And the government, Automotive Council UK and other bodies are fully committed to making sure the UK is at the forefront of autonomous technology, with a supply chain able to deliver it.

While we may be a few years from when cars will drive occupants to their destination, one thing is for sure; modern cars are getting ever more sophisticated. Indeed, some automotive observers have remarked there will be more technological change in the next 10 years than there has been in the past 100.

In fact, connected technology is already with us, with such systems as adaptive cruise control, automated city braking and lane departure – a sign that Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are growing in number and intricacy. Even simple components, such as automatic full beam units, require technicians to acquire new skills and garages to invest in new equipment to replace windscreens, because systems need re-calibrating before returning a car to its owner.

Cars are also sophisticated in the way they alert a service is due and help an owner identify and reach the nearest garage to book an appointment. This is the brave new world made possible by the major advances in technology and presents a host of new business opportunities for the independent garage.

Consumers deserve and need choice in the market place and the aftermarket sector can continue to provide a great value, high quality, customer- focused solution in a technologically-changing world. With the right training and investing in key equipment, independents can realise a new range of business options.

“That’s why no matter how sophisticated the modern car will become with autonomous abilities, the essential nature of servicing and maintenance required remains the same. That’s why an entrepreneurial approach and ‘can do’ attitude mean the connected car of tomorrow will be welcomed at the forward-thinking independent garage of today.”

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GARAGE CUSTOMER £70K FINE FOR FALSE CLAIM

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GARAGE CUSTOMER £70K FINE FOR FALSE CLAIM


A JUDGE has ordered a woman to pay £70,000 in costs and damages following the ‘implausible’ claim that an independent garage deliberately tripped her up.

In a story that first appeared in the Mail Online, Yvette Thomas had lodged a £200,000 compensation claim against the workshop, saying that an alleged fall had left her injured and unable to work.

She also claimed she had been forced to cancel an overseas holiday, quit dancing lessons and could no longer go to the gym.

Southwick Service Centre in Trowbridge, Wiltshire denied that she tripped and said a hosepipe in a valeting bay had only brushed against her leg.

Hospital records show that Thomas had been examined at A&E by medical staff but X-rays showed no signs of trauma.

District Judge Francis Goddard told Bath County Court: “In my judgment the case that Mrs Thomas puts forward simply does not add up.

“I do not find her story in any way believable notwithstanding that she may well have by now convinced herself that what she said happened did happen.

“Something happened on that day that caused Mrs Thomas to come up with a version of events that, on a hearing of the evidence, is quite implausible.

“It was not a pre-thought out plan.

“The story put to the court germinated on that day and was elaborated upon over the months and years that followed.”

Thomas had said the alleged incident took place when she dropped her daughter’s Mini Cooper at the garage for an MOT, saying that a someone cleaning a car had deliberately tripped her up with an industrial pressure washer hose.

Car valeter, Edward Slow said: “I was rather angry when I heard what she was saying. “I remember her coming in.

“She was walking around and she said the hosepipe rubbed against her leg and that it was an accident waiting to happen.

“Then suddenly it became this whole story that I had deliberately tripped her up – something I would never do.”

Solicitor Tim Marshal of DFE Law who acted on behalf of the garage told the Mail: “Mrs Thomas painted a picture of being a very disabled woman as a result of this. She said she couldn’t leave the house without a walking stick, drink a cup of tea or clean her teeth”.

“But a surveillance firm hired to follow her found that she was walking fine and there was no sign of any physical impairment – no walking stick, nothing”.

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KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES


With so many diagnostic tools available, when is the right time to upgrade? 

Nowadays with advanced vehicle technology, diagnostic tools have become an essential
piece of kit for garages whether the job involves re-f lashing ECUs to pulling out fault codes However, with the wide range of products and updates on the market, are workshops keeping their tools in check?

TOOLING UP
“There’s a lot more realisation now with anyone possessing old kit that they’ve got to look into upgrading” said Dave Richards, Managing Director at Launch UK. “The older kit predates the electronic park brakes where service resets were just a part in the dashboard. But on a Range Rover, it’s a programming function where you have to re-program five ECUs to reset all the service lights.” Julian Goulding, UK Marketing Manager at Delphi, points out that there are some older devices being used by technicians. He says, “There are still old and out-of-date tools out there, however, with the coverage we provide, that is dependant on the workshops updating to the latest software”, adding that the firm is continually stressing the importance of using modern units to trade customers.

HGS Mega Macs tool

From a tyre dealer perspective, Colin Webb, MD at TPMS firm Bartec Auto ID, advises technicians to consistently update their diagnostic equipment and software, due to the ongoing growth of new passenger cars and sensors making their way off factory lines. “The market is moving very quickly so tyre shop technicians need to have their tools updated as soon any new car comes onto the roads, otherwise, they will have trouble repairing the next car coming over the threshold”, highlighting that this could incur loss of business to OE franchise dealerships.

PRICE DRIVEN
Neil Hilton, Head of Business Development at Hella Gutmann Solutions, notes that many technicians are driven by price when it comes to upgrading their toolbox and do not necessarily understand the differentiations and benefits between what a budget and a premium tool can bring to the workshop. A challenge the firm is consistently educating garages and bodyshops about, as Hilton explains. “The comparison is you pay a little extra and buy a better quality machine that has more capabilities from day one and also has a longer lifetime”. He continued. “A customer who buys price driven compared to a customer who buys one of our HGS devices, the HGS customer has spent less in the long term because he’s purchased a machine that’s seen him through five years plus whereas the alternative customer has brought two or three more in that space of time and had less coverage”.

Delphi’s Julian Goulding agrees and expands: “There are still some technicians driven on price and this feeds through to diagnostics. What we try to stress to people is look at return on investment, what price you pay and the capabilities it gives you across a wide range of vehicles”. Similarly, Bartec’s Colin Webb says the firm has developed a method to take the hassle out of reminding tyre technicians and fast fit centres through regular wifi updates. He explains more. “We offer wifi updates so the technician doesn’t have to remember to do the update so they will always be ahead”. He elaborates, “The TECH500 is our latest tool containing wifi and software updating on it as well as wireless charging”, adding that the gadget also allows users to detect vehicle faults and re-program universal sensors on a range of vehicle models.

BUYING TRENDS
Launch UK’s David Richards said the firm has spotted a buying pattern between technicians who are keen to upgrade their apparatus. Speaking about his findings, he said. “One of the trends which we are trying to address is that technicians are wanting to up their game but don’t want to wait around for the boss’s tool. Most of those guys are not looking to spend £2,500 so we have products in the £500 to £1,000 range, which are affordable for them because they’ll usually spend around £500 on a set of spanners”. He continued, saying, “We’re already seeing some cases where you almost get the tablet for free but you’re committed to five years of software updates. Launch UK doesn’t operate like that and instead, offers two years free software for the customer”.

Launch UK’s X-431 PRO 3

ADAS DIAGNOSTICS
It’s all well and good having a unit that performs general diagnostics, but garages may struggle if the system can’t detect faults on ADAS systems, according to Hilton, who says many workshops are unaware of the business implications this could cause in the future. “Through our ADAS awareness seminars, it is clear from the shocked faces that most of the workshops, bodyshops and to an extent, glass companies, are still not aware of these systems on the vehicles they’re working on and the risks it poses to their business by not carrying out the correct processes or procedures”. He concluded. “All of our HGS Mega Macs equipment is capable of calibrating ADAS systems (some vehicles require additional hardware). We also offer a diagnostic tool that is purchased as a standard tool but also incorporates the required software at no extra cost to have the capability to calibrate ADAS vehicles”.

Although suppliers seem to hold a certain level of responsibility to encourage workshops to keep up with the times, it is crucial in this day and age for technicians to take charge by familiarising themselves with not only the diagnostics and software available, but not allow pricing to get in with the way of potential ROI opportunities.

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IGA ANNOUNCE DATES FOR 20 TRAINING EVENTS

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IGA ANNOUNCE DATES FOR 20 TRAINING EVENTS


The RMI’s Independent Garage Association has announced dates and locations for 20 training events for members around the country. This year’s programme features an-all new presentation, dealing with how best to run a business in a world with changing technology and cybercrime.

As in previous years, the DVSA will also be joining us at our member events to discuss annual training, the MOT system and more.

Here’s where the events are taking place:

Doors will open at 9:30am and presentations will start promptly at 10:00am. Tea, coffee and a buffet lunch will also be provided, and after the event you’ll get the chance to talk to both the IGA team and DVSA and ask your questions.

All of our member events are free to attend, however you will need to book tickets in advance as places are strictly limited to 100 per event. Simply click on the event you would like to book your place (up to 3 per member).

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ECP LAUNCH TRADE-ONLY WEBSITE

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ECP LAUNCH TRADE-ONLY WEBSITE


Euro Car Parts has opened a trade-only website that will run in addition to the consumer site.

The new property, known as Omnipart, will feature a VIN search as well as the regular registration and make/model searches. The entire ECP catalogue is available including mechanical and collision parts, tools and workshop consumables, with each product identified by a photograph.

 

Another feature allows technicians to see both local and national stock levels, as well as price checks, in real time so that garages can have an indication of how long it will take for a part to be delivered.

Martin Gray, CEO of Euro Car Parts, commented: “We developed Omnipart as a key driver in our commitment to making life even easier for technicians working in the independent sector. With 24/7 access to ordering, instant updates on parts availability and smart search technology, garages can make sure the parts they need are included in the first order of the day. Ordering online also reduces the cost of outbound calls, keeping phones clear for a garage’s own customers.”

Earlier in the month, Midwest Motor Factors also launched a trade-only site for the provision of crash repair parts.

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GARAGE PROGRAMME INTRODUCES FINANCIAL GUARANTEE


Trust My Garage webThe RMI is introducing a guarantee to motorists that have work done at any member garage, provided that member is part of its ‘Trust My Garage’ scheme.

Terry Gibson, Head of Member Services commented: “In the event of a dispute where the consumer is judged to be in the right by TMG’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider, the National Conciliation Service, the IGA will guarantee payment of any financial award up to £1,000 where the garage is unable to meet its obligation to the consumer”.

TMG is regognised as an ‘approved consumer code’ by Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

The new guarantee is effective immediately . Further details of the scheme and the conditions that apply can be found on the TMG website.

The garage scheme currently has 2,800 members. Each new applicant is put through a site audit which it must pass in order to be able to display the TMG logo.

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ISSUES FACING INDEPENDENTS ‘MORE COMPLEX THAN EVER’


Andy Savva

Andy Savva, Managing Director of Savva Automotive, filled a seminar room at a recent trade show with his presentation, ‘A New Service Way: Effective and Efficient workshop’ aimed at boosting productivity, margins and morale within the independent garage.

“The issues facing us working in the independent sector are more complex and challenging than ever before”, he said. “From human resources to competition from fast-fits and dealers, your actual image, tooling, training and of course, technical advancements in vehicle design are all problems we as an industry are facing”.

During his presentation at Mechanex Sandown, the garage entrepreneur displayed images, comparing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ garages in 2016 that he worked with; explaining that employers should be maintaining a healthy and safe working environment, with tools labelled and placed in an appropriate area to utilise workshop capacity effectively.

Savva also provided guidance to help garages calculate the correct labour rate instead of charging the ‘going rate in the area’ for individual businesses while attempting to bridge the gap between independent and franchised garages. He said: “Generally, independent garages see franchised garages as competitors and franchised garages historically, put us down as independents” he continued: “I believe we both should be a collective progressive, professional sector where a consumer has the choice to go and have their car repaired properly in an honest fashion. I don’t believe we should have this culture of ‘them and us’ because that’s what’s keeping us segregated and our industry unprofessional”.

Other industry talks included: ‘DPF Diagnosis, Recovery and Repair’ orchestrated by ADS Director Frank Massey and ‘The Future of MOT training’ hosted by representatives from the RMI.

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MOTOR CODES BECOMES MOTOR OMBUDSMAN

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MOTOR CODES BECOMES MOTOR OMBUDSMAN


Trade body Motor Codes has changed name to Motor Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman continues to provide a service and repair code of practice for the independents, franchises and warranty providers that have signed up.

Apart from the new name, the organisation can now reach a final decision in-house. Previously, if a case reached arbitration, both the consumer and the subscriber had to pay.

Bill Fennel, former MD of Motor Codes, now Chief Ombudsman and MD of the re-branded organisation, said: “Our ultimate aim is to give consumers peace of mind, ease relations between garages and motorists and find the fairest solution for both parties should a dispute arise”. He re-iterated that the service is free for the public to use.

Founded in 2004 by SMMT, Motor Codes has built up a membership in it’s new and used car sales, service and repair and warranty services and is one of the few operations to achive Trading Standards recognition. However, while a majority of franchise dealers have signed up, only a minority of independent garages have done so.

 

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CARVUE INCORPORATES TECHNICAL DATA

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CARVUE INCORPORATES TECHNICAL DATA


 

Garage Management Software CarVue will now incorporate technical data.

The capability is from a deal with data provider, TecAlliance. Besides being the originators of the aftermarket TecDoc catalogue, the German business provides diagnostic fault-finding info, as well as service and repair schedules through its TecRMI system.

“Technicians can now access valuable data like labour times, service schedules and parts RRP pricing,” said Rob Skidmore, CarVue’s Product Director.

The function is live now on all paid plans.

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TO TRAIN OR NOT TO TRAIN?


Andy SavvaI want to use this month’s article to share my views on training. During my 30-odd years in the automotive industry I have noticed a lack of training and development of people in most workshops. This is mostly due to the short-termism of the British garage owner, whether franchised or independent. However, I also believe it’s due to an imperfect understanding of how training and development of people, in particular technical staff relates itself directly to the efficiency and profit to the business.

I have always maintained the continual training and development of all my past teams was a way of generating improvements in productivity, quality, first-time fix results, used as a unique selling point (marketing terms), motivational, retention, and the recruitment of personal just to name a few. The benefits hugely outweigh the cost.

My personal outcome has unfolded through time and has been long lasting. I continue to develop my skills and hone my knowledge, I am continually learning, always striving for perfection, even though I know I will never achieve it. That’s the attitude I carried with me in all my previous garage business and currently in my personal life.
Have you ever heard or seen statements like “fully trained technicians” or that they have a fully equipped workshop? What does this mean? How can anyone quantify ‘fully’? I certainly can’t! This is a complete myth.

trainornot

MYTH
You can never be fully trained in our automotive industry, modern vehicle technology continues to advance at such a pace, vehicles are becoming increasingly sophisticated animals. Technicians today are becoming increasing more like software programming engineers! Today’s technicians must posse, mechanical, diagnostic, communication skill, have solid work practices, take pride in their work and be able to continually learn.

If this is the case, it seems that nearly all franchised and independent service business employ many of these individuals. Well I care to differ, because all I see and hear up and down the automotive sector is the struggle and challenges of finding and recruiting reasonably competent technicians let alone ‘fully skilled’ ones.

As garage owners we must be honest with ourselves, look at the services we are offering in our businesses and make sure we firstly recruit individuals who have knowledge and experience in those sectors, secondly, quickly understand the strengths and weaknesses of that individual and together create a training and development plan aligned to the services and objectives of your business. Training should not be adhoc, it needs to be structured and strategic.

BEST TIME
There has never been a better time in the independent sector to access such a wide range of training and support programs. From specific renowned diagnostic experts Frank Massey, James Dillion and Peter Coombes, parts suppliers like Andrew Page, The Parts Alliance, from our professional body the IMI, to even OE parts manufacturers like Bosch, ZF Services and Schaeff ler that open their doors to share their vast expertise and knowledge and indeed to all the trade shows and seminars hosted up and down the country throughout each year. Many of these are inexpensive in order to encourage and incentivise technicians to attend with many more being totally free. What I am saying here is that there is no excuse for not getting technicians on training courses.

At Brunswick Garage we had a philosophy of continued and training and development for our team members specifically in the area of diagnostics. 20 years ago a modern vehicle would contain severn or eight control units, now they could have anything up to 100. Our training was a combination of aftermarket training from ZF, Bosch and Schaeffler to specific brand training from BMW, Land Rover and VW-Audi direct from the mentioned academies.

However, it’s important to emphasise this was centred around the services we offered, it gave us a unique and
competitive edge within our local market place and beyond, more importantly it offered us the opportunity to charge far more than anyone else and regularly make a profit! Our annual training budget exceeded £35,000 per year which is unheard of in the independent sector.

I was proud of my team at Brunswick and what gave me immense pleasure was to see their development during the five years I had the business, the hundreds of happy customers who had their vehicles repaired correctly, promptly, and efficiently. This was possible due to our recruitment process, continued training plans and of course providing my staff with the correct tooling and equipment.

I always used to say: ‘Equipment must never be a substitute for knowledge’, it should be an aid.

For my final thought, I believe and have so for a few years, that an independent garage cannot survive offering all makes servicing and repairs, vehicle technology and a lack of skill coupled with the tooling and equipment needed makes it virtually impossible. The smart garage will specialise in a specific brand or two, or focus on a particular area on vehicle design, like steering and suspension, climate control, gearboxes, diesel or petrol engines and so on enabling the garage to charge more for that service. In turn, this will increase the opportunity to be appreciated and respected by its staff and customers and more importantly, survive in this ever changing sector.

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