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Dealers should extend opening hours to capitalise on MOT demand

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Car dealers should consider extending the operating hours of their workshops to handle the anticipated demand for MOTs, following the end of the six-month coronavirus extension period.

More than half of car owners (56%), who had an MOT test due between March 30 and July 31, 2020, chose to use the six-month extension to delay their car’s test beyond the expiry date on their existing certificate, according to a study by The Motor Ombudsman.

The DVSA has already predicted ‘double the usual demand’ in the autumn months and has been encouraging motorists to bring their MOT test forward to avoid the congestion.

Karen Rotberg, co-founder of BookMyGarage, said: “The demand is there, yet the current capacity is understandably stretched. In order to cope and mitigate against losing business from those unwilling to wait, a temporary increase in capacity is a logical move. 

“We know it is being considered and debated across many groups at the moment.”

On average, two thirds (66%) of all franchise workshop bookings managed by the BookMyGarage include an MOT test. Analysis of job sheets processed by its network of 9,000 franchised and independent garages also showed a rise in additional repair work from 25% to 48% year-on-year in July.

Following the announcement by Government that MOTs would once again become mandatory for cars that needed to be tested from August 1 onwards, the Motor Ombudsman study showed that this had not driven any sense of urgency among consumers to get their MOT tests booked if their original certificate had expired. Only 29% of respondents stated that they had organised the annual test for their vehicle.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, said: “The results of our study and wider industry data clearly shows that there is cause for worry, due to the number of potentially unsafe cars on the road that have not had their MOT. This is compounded by the concern that the recent government announcement has created very little impetus to buck this trend.

“If their personal situation allows, and with many garages and repairers once again opening their doors following the lifting of recent lockdown restrictions, we are urging consumers to take their cars for the annual assessment as soon as possible. This means that they will have a better chance of securing a booking, and will also help to alleviate a large build-up of outstanding tests that could leave MOT stations unable to cope at a later date.”  

Rotberg added: “The backlog, on top of normal run of business, will take some time to clear but, as ever, it remains a conquest opportunity for dealers to capture those out-of-warranty owners shopping around for a deal. The exemption has just added availability to that equation.

“Despite the fact that capacity is an issue, we have had over 100 franchise sites increase their investment in August, due to the fact that they collectively achieved over 600% ROI last month, in order to attract this new conquest work.  Although it is booked in line with diary availability, they are willing to increase their working hours to capitalise on the MOT rush.”   

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