Written on July 3, 2015 at 10:54 am
A Bit About Batteries
Most Common Vehicle Breakdown
In a recent article in consumer motoring magazine Auto Express concerning UK callout figures for the AA for 2014, it was revealed that battery problems were not just the most common cause of a breakdown callout, they were more than four times more likely than any other form of mechanical breakdown.
It was a similar story in Ireland, as according to Alliance Global Assistance, a flat battery was the also number one cause of a breakdown callout for Irish motorists during the same period.
Again, in Germany, although the most recent ADAC statistics refer to 2013, the battery is the most common cause of a breakdown callout (33%), almost three and a half times more likely than the next most common, which are the fuel injection system at 9.6% and the ignition system at just 9.2%.
“The lessons to learn from these statics,” says Myles Pemberton, marketing manager for Manbat, the UK’s largest automotive battery distributor, “are two-fold: the first is that batteries are a vital profit driving commodity for both motor factors and workshops and the second, motorists still need to be educated to the importance of maintaining the battery in their vehicle.
“Naturally, of the 427,586 battery related callouts stated in the Auto Express article, not all will require the owners to purchase a new battery. However, many will and many more are likely to be faced with the reality that they’ll have to put their hand in their pocket for a replacement sooner rather than later.
“It is therefore very important that factors have access to good quality batteries for their workshop customers to fit on these vehicles and that they can be certain that their supplier will have sufficient stock to fulfil their requirements, even when the weather is cold as it is at the moment.
“Although some might opt for a ‘whatever will do’ approach to battery replacement, a more responsible – and I might add, more profitable – approach is to supply a quality product that will prove reliable over the longer term.
“Motorists are never going to want to replace their battery, but they’d be far happier to pay 50% more for something that will last three years or more rather than pay a bit less and have to replace it again a year later! So by supplying a quality product, factors can actively help their workshop customers to make more profit and deliver a greater level of customer satisfaction.
“When it comes to motorists understanding how they can get the best from their batteries, workshops are ideally placed to help and advise them.
“Simple examples such as explaining that 80% of battery failures are a result of poor charge maintenance and that their car’s alternator will often not fully recharge their battery during everyday, short journey driving. However, regular mains charging will increase the serviceable life of a battery by two years or more!
“Despite looking like a simple plastic box, batteries are complex and need care, which is why we want to work with proactive factors and their customers to help them develop their battery business and reap the extra profits that will follow.”
It’s All About Service
Motorists are looking for garages that provide a good service and that they can trust. Battery testing is an easy and effective way of building customer confidence and is very easy to introduce.
Manbat believes that whether a vehicle is in the workshop for a service, MOT or repair, it should be automatic that the technician working on it tests the condition of the battery.
This is a win-win service. If the battery is in poor condition, there is the immediate opportunity for a sale. If it is okay, but might need replacing in the next few months, the workshop is providing their customer with helpful timely ‘free’ advice. If however, the battery is in excellent condition, it’s a good news story that will boost the customer’s confidence that it is a garage they can trust and they’ll be sure to comeback when a new battery is required.
The Changing Landscape Equals Opportunity
It is clear that the much predicted shift from familiar high output capacity lead-acid batteries in a traditional application to more specialist cyclic batteries fitted to vehicles that incorporate a Start-Stop system, is gaining momentum.
Many garages are reporting that although it may still be a trickle and not yet a flood, the balance is certainly beginning to change and that they need to prepare to cater for the challenge ahead.
Manbat has spoken about this forthcoming challenge on many occasions and is encouraging garages to look at it as an opportunity, rather than a problem.
“Change happens, that’s just a fact of life,” Pemberton continued, “but it’s how garages deal with change that will define the final outcome for their businesses and their customers.
“The truth is that over the last 25 years, profits from battery sales have fallen, so that a typical battery is the same price now as it was in 1990 and the labour rate a garage could traditionally charge to change a battery, non existent!
“However, with the change, three factors will now start to work in the industry’s favour. First, the AGM/EFB batteries required for Start-Stop equipped vehicles command a higher price, which means more of a margin for both motor factors and their garage customers. Second, garages can now charge for fitting the replacement because in contrast to a traditional system, this process can sometimes take a couple of hours work. And finally, as the average motorist becomes less knowledgeable from a maintenance and repair perspective, they are less likely to call into question a fitting charge as they have no previous DIY experience to compare it with.
“These factors provide a real opportunity for garages to use this change in battery technology to their advantage and combined with the implementation of a proactive battery testing service, can result in an upturn in profits, which can only be good news.
“We are always keen to work with garages that are looking to develop their battery business and would be delighted to speak with like minded people and realise the potential together.”
New Lucas AGM
To further help motor factors and their garage customers make the necessary transition in the changing battery landscape and to respond to the requirement to supply the growing number of vehicles designed to use Start-Stop specific batteries, Manbat is introducing a high quality AGM battery into the acclaimed Lucas range, which will shortly be available throughout the Manbat branch network.
“Although we are well known in the trade for supplying the market leading VARTA® battery range, many of our customers like to supply the Lucas brand as they find the name is so familiar across the industry and has a great reputation for quality and that allows them to provide their customers with a highly reputable product offering across the board,” says Manbat’s marketing manager, Myles Pemberton.
“Therefore, with the addition of this new model, they will now also have a viable Lucas solution for those vehicles that by their very design require a Start-Stop compatible battery that correctly conforms to the vehicle’s specification. As a result, with the inclusion of the Lucas AGM, they are now fully equipped to provide their customers with the ideal replacement for each and every application.”
For further details, please call Manbat Customer Services on: 01743 218500 or visit: www.manbat.co.uk