Classed as essential businesses, garages and workshops can stay open during the coronavirus pandemic although they are not obliged to do so.
We are still providing our clients with any support they may need whilst using our systems, as well as managing enquiries and other aspects of the business. Quite simply, if you need us, we are available on the end of a phone, by email inside our applications.
We’re interested to know your experiences during these very surreal times, have you remained open and are your services in demand? Meanwhile, we’ve taken a quick look at what’s been going on in our sector, how businesses have reacted and latest updates, although everything seems to change at a rapid rate.
Motorists whose vehicle MOTs were due from 30th March now have a six-month extension, cars still need to be roadworthy and there is a need for key workers to access repair and maintenance services if required during the lockdown.
However, the Independent Garage Association (IGA) raised concerns about the exact application of the MOT extension which it claims is misleading and had called upon the government to opt for a six week extension.
Whilst it could be interpreted that every vehicle with an MOT due from 30th March receives an automatic extension, this is not necessarily the case. The exemption is only valid seven days before the vehicle’s MOT is due to provide flexibility surrounding dates and exemptions. It means if the test is due on say 1st May or 1st June, it remains due on that date until seven days prior when the extension could be applied (or not) depending on the situation.
The IGA had argued for a much shorter extension because almost one in three cars fails its MOT equating to 10 million vehicles at any one time which are not roadworthy.
Training year extended
Meanwhile, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has extended the training year for 2019/20 until the end of April and will continually review the situation to enable garages to meet its MOT annual assessment obligations. However, the DVSA also urges business owners and staff to use time during the crisis to complete annual training and assessment by utilising distance learning.
The DVSA has introduced a range of measures and extensions whilst industry bodies have been lobbying government for support for the sector. The IGA provides a list of links with all the essential information for business owners.
Active support for Coronavirus
Like other industries, the sector is also rising to the challenge that coronavirus poses. An MOT test centre in Belfast opened its doors as an official virus test facility on 7th April. The Balmoral MoT centre was the city’s second test facility to open after the SSE Arena.
It followed calls from founder and creator of VTS MoT compliance system MOT Juice, Barry Babister, to use MoT test centres as virus testing facilities. He has written to the DVSA’s head of MoT policy, Neil Barlow, pointing out that DVSA-approved test centres utilise secure data systems which could be adapted for Covid-19 testing in a similar way to which vehicle testing is undertaken.
Scores of dealers have rallied in support of key workers with discounts offered on servicing and repairs and donations of protective car seat covers made to NHS staff. Manufacturers are also turning vehicle production over to making vital protective equipment. It includes Jaguar Land Rover which has begun production of reusable NHS-approved protective visors and several other companies such as McLaren which is re-engineering an existing ventilator design for use in the NHS.
Using data from its partner service centres which have remained open, Cazana has launched an online aftersales portal KeyworkerGarages.co.uk which directs keyworkers to their nearest open service centre.
Free use of online software
Like many suppliers in the sector, at Autino, we are also doing our bit to support clients during the crisis. We're offering three months free use of our CustomerLounge customer engagement app , with remote setup and training to help boost efficiencies for aftersales teams during this difficult time, and to support service functions when we start to reopen.