February 2022

NEWS With COVID-19 and the ongoing skills shortage having been found to have caused a cascade of problems for garages during 2021, there are moves afoot to broaden the appeal of the industry beyond its traditional base. Staffing shortages were the biggest worry for 67% of garages, a situation compounded by ongoing Coronavirus- related absences, research from The Motor Ombudsman found, and these concerns are set to roll into 2022. The study also found that 50% of businesses said that staff testing positive for COVID-19 or having to self-isolate had caused disruption. 44% went on to say that the pre-existing shortage meant they did not have enough staff to be able to deal with the new pattern for MOTs, which was caused by the MOT exemption. The shortages also meant 40% said they did not have the stretch to send staff on training courses, while 38% said it meant they could not accommodate EV servicing, which could have an impact on their business longer term. Disruption to parts supplies, which impacted on throughput in the workshop, affected 60%, while higher costs and lower profitability were a concern for 42%. Another 17% believed lower new car sales was having an impact on their business. There were also widespread concerns over not being able to take on apprentices. Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman, commented: “As we look ahead, 2022 will see businesses continue contending with challenges brought about by COVID-19 and the trading environment witnessed in 2021, whilst the increasing parc of electric vehicles on UK roads will also demand both expenditure and expertise to be able to accommodate them for servicing and repair work. It will be another year of evolution and change.” Meanwhile, the lack of diversity in the sector, a factor seen as exacerbating the ongoing skills crisis, has been addressed in the first interim report from the IMI Diversity Task Force, published in January. IMI President Professor Jim Saker commented: “Each Working Group has presented their initial findings as well as several proposals to improve diversity within the automotive industry and we look forward to presenting the full report and final recommendations ahead of the IMI Dinner on 17 March.” Race and Ethnicity Working Group Chair and Chair of the IMI Board Kevin Finn FIMI said: “As a business leader, I want to make positive changes, and so wanted to fully understand the challenges and issues around diversity and inclusion.” Physical and Non-Visible Disabilities Working Group Chair and IMI Vice President Sarah Sillars OBE Hon FIMI observed: “There is no real data in our sector but some great case studies, policies and best practice to help shape our thinking. However, the real upside is the group have new ideas. The next stage is to try to bring the abundance of input from all the group together. We’re thinking ‘small change for big wins’.” Gender Identity Working Group Chair, Peugeot CEO and IMI Vice President Linda Jackson Hon FIMI added: “We are pulling on the real life experience of our group members and also looking across best practice already in place. Our combined ambition is to make a difference and offer pragmatic proposals to our industry through the development of key principles to embrace a culture of diversity.” To download the full Interim Report, visit: https://tide.theimi.org.uk/about- imi/diversity-task-force For more on the skills crisis, turn to Big Issue on pages 8-13. 4 AFTERMARKET FEBRUARY 2022 www.aftermarketonline.net Staff shortages create big challenges Free TechMan GMS licence for ECP customers and RAC-Approved garages Garages that buy parts from LKQ Euro Car Parts or have become an RAC-Approved centre can now access a reduced rate, and in many cases free, TechMan garage management system licence, thanks to a new team-up between the organisations and the GMS provider. Commenting on the offering, Leo Freebairn of TechMan said: “This really is a fantastic opportunity for garage owners, particularly for those that have not yet embraced today’s digital way of working and are still operating their business via paper diaries or old invoicing systems.” The new offer follows a number of new developments made by TechMan to its GMS including Service Assist, MOT Data Refresh, Haynes Pro and LKQ Euro Car Parts integrations. For more information, visit www.techmangms.com