Since launch, over 150,000 drivers have used WhoCanFixMyCar.com to find a great local garage or mechanic – indeed, we now have over on our books, nationwide – everything from independent garages and mobile mechanics to true specialists.
As a result, we’ve built up a unique ‘bird’s-eye’ view of the aftersales market as a whole and here, with 2016 fast approaching, we’re revealing the repair and maintenance trends that can be expected over a typical year. Read on…
1. Electrical work is already on the up and will peak in January
Cold weather unquestionably increases strain on batteries and other electrical components, but by how much? The answer is, the work more than doubles, comparing January to June, and the trend actually begins earlier than you might think, in the autumn, sustaining right into April. Moreover the pattern isn’t caused purely by requests for new batteries which, at most, make up 16% of the electrical work we see in a given month. Instead, alternators, lighting and other electrical faults or gremlins are what really peak on WhoCanFixMyCar.com during the winter.
Action Plan: advertise your electrical expertise and experience – and/or free electrical diagnosis – until the clocks go forward.
2. Potholes have a knock-on effect – literally – in the spring.
Potholes develop in winter, when rainwater enters cracks in the road and freezes, weakening the asphalt surface until it eventually disintegrates, creating a pothole, causing a remarkable £2.8bn of vehicle damage every year! As well as well-publicised effects on alloy wheels and tyres, potholes can also cause more significant mechanical damage, and that’s reflected directly in WhoCanFixMyCar.com’s data: requests for Suspension and Steering Repair work increase by around 75% comparing December and February/March/April (noting that a cold snap early in the winter may cause an actual pothole weeks later.) Coil springs, shock absorbers and tracking all follow the same trend.
Action Plan: promote a ‘post-pothole diagnosis’ service to your existing customers from February to April. Why not create a tongue-in-cheek 0800 ‘Pothole Helpline’ too.
3. When summer comes, move fast!
Unsurprisingly, the demand for Air-Conditioning work spikes in the summer, with a 10x increase in July, relative to February. But that’s not the whole story. Bear in mind the following:
- Demand for this work is completely tied to the weather, not the season. A single hot afternoon causes a spike in air-con requests. Indeed, the heatwave we experienced in early July caused demand to increase to such an extent that WhoCanFixMyCar.com had a record week – not just in air-con work but overall!
- Other job types are temperature-linked: electric window faults, window tinting and convertible roof repairs all follow an identical trend.
Action Plan: move FAST when hot weather is forecast. Line up pre-written emails, texts, mailshots and the like in the spring, so you can be front-of-mind the very day that the mercury shoots up.
4. Servicing is still linked to registration month – but the ‘season’ is a month longer than first thought.
Because WhoCanFixMyCar.com hoovers up meaty non-service mechanical work – such as clutches, cambelts, brakes and exhausts – servicing actually makes up only a moderate proportion of the total work requested – around 13%. The link to first registration month can clearly be seen in monthly requests for Servicing work (usually, but not always, with an MOT), with a 60% increase in September versus, say, May.
However, as drivers don’t always get their Service or MOT sorted immediately, over time, the service date starts to lag behind registration month: while March and September are the most common UK registration months, servicing is actually slightly more common in April and October, respectively.
Action: if you’re promoting Servicing / MOT during plate-change month, make sure to do the same the month after.
5. Drivers of older vehicles feel the Christmas pinch.
WhoCanFixMyCar.com’s user base is almost an exact representation of the typical British driver – our most popular vehicle is a Ford Focus which, at 8-9 years old, is slightly older than the average car on our roads, the discrepancy driven by a portion of vehicles that are now on a main dealer Service Plan. Looking at vehicle age month-by-month, two things are clear:
- Average age of cars being repaired skews a little younger around a plate change – because newer cars are more likely to be involved in a new car transaction (ie, if a new car is bought and a used one is sold, it’s very common for some repair work to be carried out – but if the used car is much older, then it’s less likely to be sold and replaced with a brand-new one.)
- Owners of older cars are less likely to use a garage from December-March. One possible cause: they may have less disposable income and thus big expenditure in December/Jan (Christmas, and often, holidays too) takes these drivers longer to recover from.
Action: can you offer any form of staggered payment option, or a ‘Lite’ Servicing package in January-March?
6. Come rain or shine, mobile mechanic demand is on the up.
With Amazon offering delivery within the hour, and Deliveroo cyclists seemingly at every set of traffic lights, consumers are seeking ‘convenience’ like never before – and these expectations will feed into all aspects of their lives, including car ownership. ‘When a few taps on a smartphone brings an Uber to my door, why should I drive to an unfamiliar location – and arrange my own transport – for something far more costly, such as car maintenance’ will increasingly become a driver’s mindset. garages that offer a truly mobile experience – or car collection and delivery – will have the advantage, as our data clearly shows.
Action: can you perform certain repairs at a driver’s home or workplace? Or can you collect and deliver the vehicle? Many drivers will pay a small surplus, allowing you to cover your costs.
So there you have it – six clear actions that any garage, dealership or mechanic can take in order to plan for success in 2016. Meanwhile, at £79.99 per year, membership to WhoCanFixMyCar.com offers a low-cost, low-risk way for garages to keep their bays full bringing in new business on a wide range of repair types, across their local area. Quoting on jobs, and calling customers is included free-of-charge in the membership fee, and a small commission is payable only when a new job is won. With typical commissions under £11, it’s of little surprise that over 300 new trade members will join us this month alone.