Strange things happen during a British heatwave. Newspapers report that London is hotter than Mali, Miami and Malaga. Trains slow down as hot tracks threaten to buckle beneath them. And, naturally, disposable barbecues are sold out at your local petrol station.
But what effect does the heat have on our car owners? As the leading comparison site for drivers looking to for a great local garage, we are in something of a unique position: we see a full range of service/repair requests – from MOTs to complete restoration – for all makes and models. So, when the mercury rose to 37 degrees, what did we learn?
1. Requests for air-conditioning work (e.g. regas / service) increased 336%!
Take a look at the graph below to see just how huge this trend is. Indeed, it drove an all-time ‘record week’ for WhoCanFixMyCar.com, with well over 2,600 jobs (£900k of work) posted in just 7 days! And it’s straightforward stuff, too: requests for a simple air-con regas outnumbered requests for other air-con work almost 7:1
It’s also worth noting that there is a ‘memory effect’ here – even though the hottest days are behind us, air-conditioning demand continues to track ahead of the pre-heatwave level.
2. But it’s not just air-con jobs that spike
Fascinatingly, requests to fix broken electric windows (up 131% week-on-week), for tinted windows (up 175%) and radiator repair (up 200%) followed the same trend. Finally, requests for mobile mechanics were also up 30%, perhaps indicating that drivers would rather not take their car to the garage in burning temperatures. Any workshops who were quiet last week can take solace from that, while perhaps also considering whether they’d benefit from a mobile arm to their business.
Repair Type and week-on-week change:
Aircon Regas – up 336%
Air Conditioning Service- up 276%
Car Radiator Repair – up 200%
Window Tinting – up 175%
Alternator Repair – up 157%
Electric Window Faults – up 131%
3. And the ‘true’ trend began in April.
Here’s the same information, taken from the start of the year. While we saw a clear spike in air-con regas work last week, the truth is that there is a fascinating seasonal variation in demand for air-conditioning, convertible roof and electric window work. In fact, heatwave aside, the demand for this ‘summer’ swathe of work leapt up in April and had been pretty steady until last week’s record temperatures.
(NB the values are relative – all graphs are pegged to a starting point of 1. In other words, air-con servicing demand in June was 24x higher than in January).
So, what can garage owners learn from this data?
1. Be ready for ‘summer work’ from March-April
Heatwave or no heatwave, it only takes a warm March day for our thoughts to turn to the summer ahead – and garages can be ready for that. While there may not be much margin in a simple air-con regas, the WhoCanFixMyCar.com commissions for such a job are also suitably low, at just £5.79, and any upsell, or future work, doesn’t incur any further commission payment. So, for under £6, a garage can bring in a new customer who may go on to spend hundreds of pounds with them!
2. Can you offer a helping hand to Britain’s convertible drivers?
Us Brits buy more convertibles than any country in Europe, and as a result there is a huge swathe of older soft-tops in need of some TLC. In short, it’s a popular repair category for us – indeed, in May – June we saw more requests for this sort of work than we did for Exhaust Repairs, Alternator Repair or Wheel Bearing issues! While this sort of work is a little out of the ordinary for most garages, again, with the margins on offer, could convertible roof repair be a great addition to the services you advertise?