Car Care & Valeting
Winter Sales Opportunities
The winter season brings a number of sales opportunities to the Car Care and Accessories side of a factor or garage business. Find out which essential winter items you need to stock up on ahead of the winter rush.
Seasonal essentials, such as de-icer and batteries, have good margins and can fly off the shelves when the cold weather hits. The trouble is making sure that you have enough products on the shelf. The extreme weather during recent winters left several manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand. The effects were felt right through the supply chain and most acutely by those motor factors that kept stocks too lean in the run up to winter and were left with empty shelves when the worst of the weather hit. So, if you are wondering what you should be stocking up on this winter carry on reading.
Despite technical advances prolonging the life of many components, batteries are still prone to winter failure thanks to the ever-increasing number of components and gadgets running off them. Low temperatures slow down the chemical reaction that supplies the current to crank the engine. It also causes the engine oil to become more viscous and contracts mechanical components resulting in a higher resistance to torque rotation (torque breakaway), meaning that more torque is required to crank the engine.
A fully charged battery has approximately 100% of its power available for engine cranking when the ambient temperature is 20°C. When the temperature drops to 0°C a fully charged battery, in a perfect state of health, has only 66% of its power available to crank the engine. With such a significant loss of power, imagine what the effects would be on a battery which is not fully charged. Pre-winter battery checks can prove profitable as well as common sense, as GS Batteries proves.
Last year GS conducted battery testing field trials with a number of garages in order to uncover the profit opportunities available. During the trials, which ran from August to December, participating workshops tested the batteries on all incoming vehicles. On average, 1 in 3 vehicles entering the workshops had either a defective or heavily discharged battery. Wherever the workshop had a battery which required attention or replacement, the customer was offered either a replacement unit or a reconditioning service, generating a reliable income stream for the garage. The table below reveals the revenue that can be realised from implementing a battery testing programme:
The table shows annual equivalent results for battery revenue for garages taking part in GS Batteries’ workshop trials.
This research clearly shows the benefits and increased sales opportunities that a battery testing programme can bring.
Battery Charging Equipment
Achieving the income realised by these garages requires little investment, only simple battery testing equipment and battery charging equipment – neither of which need be expensive. So make sure you stock up in time for the winter season. Battery testers range from simple hydrometers to battery powered units with digital displays. Both types are easy to use and can be used while the battery is still on the vehicle.
Battery charger ranges are now much more extensive than they were a few years ago. The type of charger often preferred by garages is the starter charger – a combination of a battery charger and starting device. These are generally more heavy duty than standard battery chargers and are protected by robust cases that will withstand repeated use in a busy workshop. It will supply the required amperage to the battery to start the vehicle but can also be used to charge the battery.
An alternative is the trickle charger, which delivers a small, continuous current to the battery so that it can be left for medium to long periods of time for trickle or maintenance charging. Or, you could go for a standard charger which delivers a higher amount of current, typically ranging from 4 amp to 30 amp, to charge the battery in a shorter period of time. Similar to the standard charger is the automatic battery charger. It has extra internal circuitry to regulate the current and voltage delivered – this means that it can be left connected to a battery without overcharging.
Don’t forget jump leads
Sales of jump leads, or booster cables, increase four-fold during the winter with peak sales between October and January – so now is the time to invest in stock if you want to maximise your sales. A wide range of leads are available, the three main types being:
1. Poly Bagged
– Entry price point with a shorter lifetime than the heavy duty ranges.
2. Fully Boxed
– These are generally longer lasting.
– 100% copper core product can withstand a higher current and is suitable for heavy duty use.
As a rule, the thicker the cable, the more current the leads can take. The Professional lead range has a cross sectional area starting from 16mm, which helps to start larger capacity engines.
And that’s not all…
Another must-stock item for winter 2012-2013 is snow socks. An alternative to snow chains and winter tyres, snow socks have been steadily gaining momentum over the past few years – last year’s sales across Europe were up 10%. Maypoles range with only six part numbers covering all tyre sizes ensures minimal stock holding. The key benefit of snow socks is that they are easier to fit compared to standard snow chains. The sock is simply placed over the top of the tyre and pulled down. It can then be stretched over the bare part of the tyre by simply moving the vehicle forwards or backwards slightly until the tyre is completely covered.
Other products worth mentioning in this area are Michelin composite snow chains and Sumex heavy duty snow chains. With a unique mesh structure of nylon interlaced with steel clips, Michelin composite snow chains guarantee optimal driveability on snow and ice when braking and cornering. Quick and easy to fit and remove, these chains are compatible with both ABS and EPS. The chains can adapt to most cars, can be fitted quickly and easily and are ideal on cars with a reduced wheel arch space. Another product range that is showing steadily growing sales is car covers. As fewer and fewer cars are garaged overnight, more and more car owners are turning to these handy, time saving products. The time taken to remove a cover is significantly less than removing ice or snow from a vehicle. New technology means that cars are better protected thanks to water resistant and waterproof materials which are now becoming the norm in the manufacture of covers.
So whatever you are in need of this winter, make sure you get in touch with your local factor or distributor!