Written on July 29, 2015 at 10:30 am
Manbat Explores The Opportunities
Most Common Vehicle Breakdown
In common with the passenger vehicle sector, statistics from across Europe confirm that battery related problems are regularly the reason behind commercial vehicle (CV) breakdowns.
“Therefore the lessons to learn are two-fold,” says Myles Pemberton, marketing manager for Manbat, the UK’s largest automotive battery distributor. “First is that batteries are an excellent profit opportunity for both CV motor factors and workshops and second, fleet and owner operators still need to understand the importance of maintaining their batteries.
“Naturally, not all battery related callouts will require the purchase of a new battery, but many will. It is therefore very important that factors have access to the good quality batteries their customers need and that they can be certain that their supplier will have sufficient stock to fulfil their requirements, particularly when the weather gets extreme.
“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.
“Although fleet operators never want to have to replace their batteries, 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 them a year later! So by supplying a quality product, factors can help their workshop customers to make more profit, while delivering a greater level of customer satisfaction to the operator.
“When it comes to operators 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 the alternator will often not fully recharge the battery on a vehicle used for short distance, multidrop work. However, regular mains charging can 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 CV factors and their customers to help them develop their battery business and reap the extra profits that will follow.”
The Changing Landscape Equals Opportunity
Although the challenges of working with vehicles that incorporate a Start-Stop system are normally associated with the automotive sector, CV factors and workshops need to be aware that the technology is already also in use in the LCV sector.
Manbat has raised the subject on many occasions and continues to encourage the trade 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 the market deals with change that will define the final outcome for businesses and their customers.
“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 can traditionally charge to change a battery virtually non existent!
“However, the changes can now start to work in the industry’s favour. An AGM/EFB battery required for a Start-Stop equipped vehicle for example, commands a higher price, which means more of a margin for both factor and garage. Also, garages can now legitimately charge for fitting the replacement because in contrast to a traditional system, this process can sometimes take a couple of hours work and will require the battery to be validated, which needs a special tool.
“To this end, alongside the wide range of VARTA®, Lucas and Numax batteries that Manbat has been associated with for many years, we have now introduced the ‘Connect + Reset’ battery validation tool, which provides garages with a simple, effective and inexpensive way to allow them to install a Start-Stop battery, as well the traditional batteries that are beginning to need validation, with confidence.”