Batchelors Motor Group boss Tony Denton has suggested businesses may have to “start treating extreme heat like extreme snowfall” after changing opening hours to protect customers and staff from the UK's heatwave.
Denton said that he offered staff at his Dacia, Renault and Suzuki franchised dealerships the option of shifting their opening times to avoid the worst of the heat after seeing reports that temperatures would soar to over 40degC.
And after finding aftersales customers open to the idea of a 6am start at their service departments, the move could herald the start of a new approach by the business.
“When I saw that reports of the heatwave were shifting towards it being a hazard to health and customers started rescheduling their service bookings to avoid being outdoors, I took the decision to adjust our opening hours to avoid the worst of it where possible,” Denton told AM.
“I posted on LinkedIn that I was changing opening hours and asked people if they thought I’d ‘gone soft’, but the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
“With temperatures like those we are seeing this week I think it’s become apparent that we might have to start treating extreme heat like extreme snowfall.”
Denton, whose Ripon-based business was profiled by AM back in 2019, consulted staff at each of his sites to see what they wanted to do and, while York’s Suzuki and Mitsubishi approved aftersales site closed completely, many staff took up the option of starting work and leaving early as temperatures soared in Ripon.
At the business’s recently-acquired Dacia and Renault franchises in Otley, however, most sales staff stayed at work.
Denton said: “I think there were a few of the sales team that thought they could steal a march if they stayed, but you can absolutely understand those who took up the offer of leaving early.
“A showroom is essentially a greenhouse when you look at it and, in this heat, it’s not much fun at times. In the workshops things are even more pronounced, with the doors always open and no air conditioning.”
Denton said that customers had been keen to take up the offer of an early aftersales appointment with Batchelors when they were contacted about bookings scheduled for the UK’s unprecedented heatwave.
And he said that the response of his workshop technicians to early morning working might also prompt a re-think on when overtime is taken.
“At the moment it’s always in the evening, but this has shown us that certain staff might prefer to have an early start, particularly at certain times of the year,” he said. “It’s something we’ll certainly look at.