Do you own or work in a service and repair garage? Here’s how to keep Britain moving during the coronavirus crisis.
Everything you need to know about servicing, repairing or MOT’ing vehicles during lockdown
Do you run a service and repair garage, or work in one?
With lockdown extended for a further three weeks in the fight against coronavirus – and no obvious easing of restrictions in sight – many garages will have noticed a significant drop in custom over the last few weeks.
What are garages allowed to do right now, and what should you not be doing? And importantly, how can you assist yourself financially to get through the ongoing coronavirus crisis?
First, the bad news…
Road traffic reportedly dropped to 1955 levels by the end of March, with the amount of motor traffic on the road dipping by as much as 73%.
While traffic levels have since recovered slightly, less traffic on the road means less business for garages.
The government also announced at the end of March that cars, vans and motorbikes would receive an automatic 6-month extension to their MOT. Commercial vehicles have been exempt from MOT for 3 months since 21st March 2020.
This leaves garages with even less to do.
The most important thing for everybody is to remain safe during the current circumstances. Equally, there are still bills to pay – whether now or in the future – and a need to keep you, your family and fellow colleagues healthy and financially stable for the foreseeable future.
Keeping income coming in
Is your garage still open and servicing vehicles? Here are five reasons why you might consider remaining open, and keep money coming in during the coronavirus crisis.
1. The need for vehicles to be roadworthy
It’s important to educate drivers that their MOT is merely an assessment of the roadworthiness of their vehicle. Regular maintenance of their vehicle is not an optional requirement – it’s the law. Their vehicle must be roadworthy at all times.
MOT tests can still be carried out for vehicles that had an MOT expiry before 30th March 2020, or that failed a test on or before that date and need to be retested. Further information from the government is available here.
Whether you are carrying out MOT tests or not, servicing and repairing vehicles is still a priority to ensure roadworthiness of vehicles.
2. Front-line workers
Never before have NHS workers received the widespread respect and acknowledgement their work deserves from the general public. Nurses, doctors, strategists, cleaners, surgeons… everybody has to get to and from work. They all need their vehicles servicing.
They’re not the only ones. It’s vitally important that carers can get to their jobs in nursing homes or children’s homes, for example. Teachers still need to look after the children of front-line workers, too. And of course, shopworkers selling essential items, or those working in supermarkets and essential retail services, will also need to keep their vehicles running.
The requirements to service and repair their vehicles have not gone away. You may wish to help them by offering a discount on the work you carry out during lockdown, providing money off their next full service or some other incentive to come back to you – but this is purely up to your discretion.
Just as front-line workers are providing vital assistance in the fight against coronavirus, couriers are delivering essential goods.
Delivering items from food to medical supplies, mobile phones to white goods – and everything in-between – couriers are helping people comfortable while staying at home and working from home.
There are still plenty of couriers on the road. Keeping them safe as they carry out deliveries is crucial, so maintaining their vehicles is a must.
Put word out on local groups on Facebook or other social media platforms that you’re open and ready to service vehicles carrying out essential deliveries. Find any local depots and ask them who is looking after their vehicles.
Like front-line workers, the need to service and repair courier vehicles is an essential requirement while lockdown continues.
4. Selling spare parts online
If you have any spare parts suitable for resale – but you don’t have vehicles to use them on – then consider selling them online. And if you know any couriers, ask them if they can deliver them!
While people are stuck at home, they are using the time to look after their own vehicles or carry out restoration projects, for example. Delivering parts can help to keep vehicles roadworthy, regardless of where their owner is located in the country.
5. Changing what you do
Can you sell vehicles to people who need them right now? Can you diagnose faults by having a video call with somebody unable to start their car on their driveway?
Could you help rescue vehicles stuck at the roadside?
Whatever you know you are capable of doing, adapt to the circumstances and help wherever you can.
Remember, everyone has a part to play in the current crisis we find ourselves in. Servicing and repairing vehicles is still classified as essential work – and rightly so.
Your garage still has an opportunity to help the infrastructure of the country, keep workers moving, and you could have an important role in helping your community during troubled times.
I still can’t get any customers. What are my options?
Nobody survives without money coming in.
Many garage owners are self-employed. You may be entitled to support from the government. You will need to have filed a tax return for 2018-2019, and the important thing to note here is you must have filled this in by Thursday, April 23rd 2020 – so act fast if you haven’t done so already!
Help for businesses with employees is also available on the GOV UK website, which provides guidance on financial support available for employees.
If you have motor trade insurance with Bollington Insurance, we may be able to offer payment breaks if you have taken out finance with our credit provider to pay for your policy, dependent on your circumstances. Your insurer is also likely to be more flexible with regards to exclusions on your policy if your premises are unoccupied for a length of time. Please speak to your account manager or contact the motor trade team on 01625 854443 for further details.
Is your garage open? Share your experiences with our survey
If you are still servicing and repairing vehicles right now, let us know.
How have you adapted to the current circumstances? Do you have any tips you could share to help others involved in repairing and servicing cars during these difficult times?
Fill in our quick two-minute survey and share your experiences of working during these challenging times.
Most importantly, we urge everyone we work with to stay safe. Make sure you adhere to appropriate social distancing measures, wash your hands regularly, minimise any contact with customers, wipe down any areas of vehicles you come into contact with, and generally do all that you can to avoid the spread of the virus.
Work safely as well as appropriately, and we will all see better times for business ahead.