Recent events have placed a greater pressure on dealers to claw back aftermarket servicing & repair work but by using the wealth of business and technical support available, independents can continue to champion a personal and professional first-rate service to motorists. We overview a few resources making a difference to both workshop owners and technicians.
As the largest and oldest trade body representing UK independent garages, the Independent Garage Association (IGA) supports members with the day-to-day challenges and larger complexities of running a garage business, while ensuring that the sector’s voice is heard at Government level.
IGA members have access to a wealth of services, advice and resources. Their dedicated helpline provides expert advice on any automotive or business-related issue, including HR and legal assistance, customer conciliation and arbitration, access to subsidised training, or help accessing digital service records.
Members receive regular communication via email, post and telephone about important industry updates, and are sent straightforward advice when new issues affecting the sector emerge, with topics ranging from new legislation to a worldwide pandemic.
The IGA works closely with Government departments to ensure that members have a voice at the highest levels.
Their MOT QC scheme is recognised by the DVSA and helps members avoid any potential issues in the event of a DVSA inspection. This is a bespoke service tailored to the members specific needs and can include help with disciplinary issues. The IGA’s Health & Safety package helps members comply with the latest H&S legislation, protecting their staff and business from risk, substantial fines or even business closure.
Members can join‘Trust My Garage’, the IGA’s nationwide consumer assurance scheme that acts as a badge of quality for independents. The scheme is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and backed by TV advertising, giving local garages a national profile.
A number of commercial services are available through the association at discounted rates. Their newest addition is a combined membership offer with ALLDATA Repair, which combines both subscriptions at a reduced annual rate and fixes the price for the next three years. A joint membership with Autodata Diagnostic & Repair is also available.
The Motor Ombudsman says that supporting independent garages has always been an integral part of the service it provides to its UK-wide network of businesses, who commit to its long-established Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Motor Industry Codes of Practice.
The Ombudsman’s Business Services department provides information and guidance to workshops and has a fully impartial dispute resolution team who help to conclude disputes when it has not been possible to do this directly with a customer. As well as its online Business Support hub, The Motor Ombudsman issues regular communications to garages, outlining the latest motor industry and government advice to allow businesses to stay informed on subjects, such as MOTs and COVID-19. This is complemented by online webinars with expert speakers to hear about the latest trends and developments impacting the service and repair sector.
Regular marketing campaigns aims to drive additional custom to garages, one of these initiatives is the Garage Star Awards, which enables workshops to gain important recognition and exposure for going the extra mile when assisting customers. Autotechnician talks to winner Dukes AutoTech in the cover story, which begins on page 33.
Low cost and motor industry-specific training modules, which cover the key principles of important pieces of legislation that govern the day-to-day operation of garages, such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Regulations, are also available to its member network.
For more information about how to join The Motor Ombudsman, and view further benefits of accreditation, visit www.TheMotorOmbudsman.org/garages/tmo-accreditation
Staffing is a major issue for many workshops at the best of times and recruitment and training are key to maximising productivity and profit. Autotech Recruit can help workshops improve their recruitment processes and enable workshops to buy in temporary help during busy periods and develop their existing workforce.
The Autotech Group has been supporting the aftermarket for over a decade through recruitment, training and, most recently, the creation of an intern-based Academy division, which will provide the industry with a much-needed skills boost.
Placing experienced temporary technicians into the industry is at the core of Autotech Group’s recruitment division. As a consequence of holidays, training, sick days, or just a lack of relevant skills, garages can take a daily financial hit, as a vacant vehicle ramp could be earning around £3k a week in profit. The firm reasons that spending a couple of hundred pounds a day on a temporary technician is a smart business decision.
While relatively unheard of 10 years ago, using vehicle technicians on a temporary basis has significantly grown in traction, and, in 2019, over 46,000 days were filled by Autotech Recruit contractors and has a robust screening process to ensure technician skills directly match client needs.
For technicians and MOT Testers, becoming a contractor can provide a more flexible way of working and can also increase their skill set. Last year, Autotech pledged to invest £170k in upskilling its 450-strong contractor network through an exclusive online training portal through OurVirtualAcademy. com, free MOT tester training, and electric/hybrid vehicle training within its custom built EV Training Suite. Open to both contractors and the entire industry, Autotech Training delivers IMI accredited electric/hybrid training from Level 1 to 4. Visit https://autotechrecruit.co.uk to find out more.
Technical support at your fingertips…
Garage Management System, TechMan, is empowering technicians with manufacturer vehicle data through a partnership with E3 Technical, adding to existing functions that help improve workshop efficiency and improve customer service. As of the 1st April, existing and new TechMan user logins benefit from instant access to data including service schedules, repair times, drawings, procedures, capacities, wiring diagrams and fault code diagnosis.
Leo Freebairn of TechMan said: “We’re constantly looking for new ways to boost workshop efficiency and having reliable vehicle data to hand is a big part of that. There’s now no need to waste time stepping away from a vehicle to head over to the office computer and contend with limited log-ins. With our unique integrated system, TechMan offers seamless access to vehicle data directly from job records and technician tablets.”
E3 Technical, which has recently been acquired by HaynesPro, provides full technical support for workshops. TechMan users can enter a vehicle registration number into their system for full access to E3 Technical data without the complication of monthly subscriptions and limited logins.
For more information about the TechMan Garage Management System, or to arrange a demonstration, call 01604 666 720, or visit www.techmangms.com.
Schaeffler is a technical partner and supplier of components and systems for original equipment fitment to vehicle manufacturers and delivers these same genuine parts and systems to the aftermarket within its LuK, INA and FAG ranges. The manufacturer’s philosophy is to provide everything a technician needs to carry out a successful, long lasting repair in one box – down to the last nut, bolt or washer.
Schaeffler informs technicians on the workings of its new technology, along with workshop best practice, tips and installation techniques through REPXPERT. Technical support, including live and online training, installation videos, service information and technical brochures, and its loyalty programme where members can redeem the bonus points found in most Schaeffler product cartons, can be accessed from www.repxpert.co.uk or the mobile app, which can be downloaded free of charge from the iOS or Google app store.
The app also provides free and instant access to the TecDoc catalogue and accompanying TecRMI library of vehicle manufacturer instructions and specifications related to the Schaeffler range of products.
Members can also redeem their bonus points for additional content, including P-codes, service schedules, diagnostics, steering geometries and torque values for non-Schaeffler- related systems. Points can also be spent in the Bonus Shop, which has a range of workshop tools, clothing and point-of- sale materials.
App users can search for vehicles by registration number or application, or for specific parts by OE, competitor and Schaeffler references. Users can also scan the barcode on any Schaeffler carton to see the full vehicle application, product and service information available for that specific repair. The DMF CheckPoint tool is also fully integrated into the app.
Castrol has partnered with in-tank remote monitoring specialists OilFox to provide an automated monitoring and stock replenishment service to customers.
The OilFox system uses sensors within the bulk tank to detect when stores of lubricant are running low, uploading data to an online stock management tool. Castrol is electronically alerted triggering an automated stock replenishment process. In addition, workshop managers can view their real time lubricant stock levels and historical consumption patterns via an intuitive online app.
“Workshop managers can effectively outsource oil stock management, and ensure they commit to spend for new stocks only when they really need to, says Paul Miller, Marketing Manager at Castrol Europe. “The only time spent on managing bulk tank oil stock will be reading delivery confirmation emails.”
The OilFox telemetry system also provides useful insight for forecasting purposes and lets larger workshop groups monitor bulk tank oil usage across multiple sites. Customers should contact their Castrol key account manager for more information.