Get more motorists into your garage this summer

All year round, Britain’s trudge through the everlasting cold and wet weather knowing once the summer to arrives, it’s time to for a holiday! This normally meant getting on a plane and travelling to the countless sunny destinations across the world.

According to research, the number of foreign trips Britons take is 16% lower than it was before the recession, with English holidays increasing by 12% between 2008 and 2013.

Short trips are the fastest growing area of domestic vacations, with 29.6m one- to three-day holidays taken in England in 2013, a 17% increase on 2008.

What this means is that Briton’s are increasingly swapping planes for cars and this raises the importance of ensuring the vehicle won’t let you down. To go through a stressful breakdown or being stuck on a motorway when the temperatures are peaking with no functioning air conditioning during a time when you are looking to relax can really ruin a holiday.

This is where the garage workshop can come in and ensure their customers are prepared for whatever trip they may be planning by offering a pre-holiday check-up.

Your customers may not do all the necessary checks needed before they leave and this is where the garage workshop can offer their expertise.

A pre-holiday check-up checklist could include the following:

  • Fanbelt – Is it perished or likely to break soon?
  • Coolant – Drain and replace. If in doubt, change the thermostat too
  • Hoses – Check condition and replace any in poor condition
  • Battery – Check and charge
  • Tyres – Check for wear and splits. If tread is minimal, advise replacement. Don’t forget to check the spare if car’s fitted with one
  • Oil – Is it topped-up and top-up if needed
  • Air Conditioning – Check condition of cabin filter. Re-gas system if needed
  • Lights – Are they all working correctly? If the car’s going abroad offer beam deflectors
  • Wiper Blades – Check and replace if needed – don’t forget the rear blade too!
  • Washer Bottle – Top-up with a good quality screenwash

Also don’t forget, motorists going abroad may need to carry things like breathalyser kits, replacement bulbs and hi-vis jackets – and don’t forget the headlight beam deflectors too!

Garage workshops should advertise the service by contacting existing customers through mail, put an advert in the local paper or why not go on local radio and talk about the problems motorist can face by not getting their vehicles checked.

There was a time when travel agents would solely ensure holidays went smoothly, but now the garage workshop has a vital role to play too.

5 areas to invest in your garage

The way to grow your business, stay profitable and increase trade through your doors is by investing in new equipment and MoT-testing bays. And while it’s often not cheap, new tools, equipment and fresh training means you and your colleagues keep up to date with the latest technology – and means you can meet the main dealer threat head-on.

So what do you need to be thinking about when it comes to investing? Here are 5 important areas to invest in your garage.

Lifts & ramps

Cars are more complicated underneath than they used to be, and getting to all the various parts isn’t easy with an old-school inspection pit. The solution is to go for a lift, and with single-, two- and four-post types available, there’s bound to be one suited to your workshop and the types of jobs you do. If you’re having a new lift or ramp installed, consider where it’s being installed. Most lift suppliers offer a design and installation service to take the worry out of this sometimes extensive job, and help you to then get the most from your new purchase. Electro-mechanical and electro-hydraulic models broaden the choice further.

When you’re using your lift remember that some cars need to be lifted in a particular way, or on a certain type of lift, because of potential weaknesses in their bodyshell or underside components.

invest-diagnostic-toolsDiagnostic tools

The heart of any service or repair job, diagnostic equipment is a must-have for any workshop whether it’s big or small, or in a rural or urban location. Without a basic diagnostic tool you’re no longer able to find where the fault lies, and you won’t be able to reset the dashboard lights either. Unfortunately modern cars need more and more diagnostic
equipment support to handle repairs, so when you’re buying diagnostic equipment make sure it’s as up to date as possible, and that it can be upgraded to keep abreast of new models when they’re launched. Consider all the types of work you handle, what cars you’re working on (if you’re a one-make specialist you won’t want information on other cars) but, most importantly, make sure you’re aren’t buying a fake. Don’t fall for any tools with a low price – it’s cheap for a reason, and that usually means it’s not the real thing.

“Don’t fall for any tools with a low price – it’s cheap for a reason, and that usually means it’s not the real thing.”

invest-air-conditioningAir conditioning

With spring just around the corner drivers could be thinking about using their car’s air conditioning. But it’s very much a forgotten part of the car, despite filters needing changing and the gas being changed or replenished. Only when the interior glass isn’t cleared almost immediately will a motorist think something’s amiss with the aircon system, and they’ll be perplexed why that’s the case, so it’ll be up to you to put things right. It’s important to have efficient, effective air conditioning testing equipment to help do any related jobs as quickly as possible.


These days it’s easy to overlook hand tools: Screwdrivers, sockets and spanners often play second fiddle to diagnostic equipment but once the fault is discovered it’s time to get the hand tools out. Most workshops favour higher-quality tools that might be more expensive to buy in the first place, but work out cheaper in the long run because of their greater service life. Remember too that the number of model-specific tools is increasing: Crowded engine bays mean more restricted access when it comes to removing the timing belt, the alternator or the starter motor. Model-specific tools are designed to overcome those problems, speeding up the job and doing it more accurately. Talk to your local member of The Parts Alliance about new tools and any offers they might be running.


Like it or not, new cars are changing more quickly than ever before, with a bewildering array of electronics taking on more and more tasks under the bonnet and the floorpan. So if a customer brings in a fairly new car with an undiagnosed malady, are you up to the job? Assuming your diagnostics’ capability is up-to-date, are you equally clued-up (and
confident) you can find the fault and put it right? That’s where training comes in, because courses from many suppliers to The Parts Alliance will keep you informed of that new technology. Courses can last from just a couple of hours to a few days, but however long they are, they’ll give you more information so you can tackle more jobs quickly, efficiently and safely.

ATA standards

Remember that The Parts Alliance and Associate Members, through its suppliers, offers the very best in training courses – ones that are Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) courses. Covering all aspects of a technician’s job, ATA courses are overseen by the long-established Institute of the Motor Industry. Sixteen automotive disciplines are covered and are regularly updated to take technology changes into account. To become an ATA registered technician technicians have to pass knowledge tests and practical assessments, while workshop bosses have to show their commitment to technical expertise.