Halloween is behind us and very soon people from across the country will hit the road to visit family and friends for the holiday season. Before the seasonal onslaught of customers come through your door for maintenance checks, have you asked yourself if your garage is “shop ready?”
The legendary driver Bobby Unser once said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” The holiday driving season is your opportunity. These ten steps will help ensure you’re prepared and successful.
- Make sure your equipment is in proper working order, making sure it has the ability to perform DTC scans and identify fault codes.
- Check the OEM for news and model alerts for each auto that comes through your shop.
- “Map out” the vehicle, noting the condition of the brakes, tires, battery, wiper blades, and the heating/defrost system.
- While checking the condition and level of oil, wiper and brake fluid, and coolant, make sure and ask your customer where he/she will be traveling during the holiday season. Are they going to a warmer or a cooler climate? The oil that’s currently in your customer’s car may not perform as well if they’re planning to visit Aunt Edna in southern Florida, or their cousins in the Rocky Mountains.
- For most autos, batteries need to be replaced about every three years. Point this out to customers and explain the benefits of having a fresh battery – especially during the winter. Cold weather is brutal on old batteries!
- When checking tire air pressure, don’t forget the spare!
- As an added value to your customers, offer Winter Driving Kits for sale. Compile a comprehensive kit that could include a small fuel can, high-energy food and snacks, water, a pair of gloves, a stocking cap, a blanket, a bottle of gas line antifreeze, a bag of sand and a child’s play shovel, flares, a portable charger for mobile devices, and a flashlight. Pricing varies on how extensive you choose to make the kit.
- Icy and snowy weather pops up very quickly and unexpectedly. Plan ahead for the increased customer foot traffic and make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt and sand on hand to guard against slip-and-fall accidents.
- Make sure your team is protecting your business and themselves to seasonal exposures.
- If you’re using portable propane heating units, provide plenty of ventilation to prevent gas buildup in the garage. If you’re using electric units, don’t overload your system by plugging in too many units at once. In both cases, make sure all units are turned off and unplugged at the end of the day.
- If the roads turn snowy or icy, allow extra time for test drives and practice safe winter driving techniques.
- If you are storing customer vehicles overnight that have electrical issues, make sure to disconnect the battery cables. Vehicles with electrical issues, and the sparks they can generate, is one of the leading causes of fires in the auto repair shops.
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