How high is confidence among garage owners?

Automotive distribution group The Parts Alliance has conducted a survey of garage owners to gauge their confidence. With the UK economy wheezing its way back to growth, the survey asked whether garages within the group’s Servicesure Autocentres network were planning to invest in new equipment, take on new staff, seeking new capital, and how confident they are about the future. The results give what is perhaps a surprisingly chipper view of the business, with many respondents holding an optimistic view of 2014.

67 per cent of responding garages said they expected the first half of 2014 to see an upturn in trade and, looking further ahead, some 73 per cent felt “very confident” about the year as a whole.

“The results of our survey show increasing confidence among garage owners and that is reflected in proposed investment into their businesses,” said Mike Smallbone, The Parts Alliance’s national garage programme manager. “Sixty-nine per cent of garages said ‘yes, I will be investing in new equipment’ during 2014 and 76 per cent said ‘yes, I will be investing in technical/product training’.

“While it is encouraging that they feel able to spend it’s also a reflection that garage owners recognise they have to keep abreast of technical advancements, as innovation in vehicle technologies and diagnostics gets more and more sophisticated.”

One in four garages said they see staffing levels going up in the next 12 months, with 73 per cent planning to keep their workforce as it is and just two per cent feeling they may see a decrease.

“It’s good to see some owners considering taking on additional people, for although there is talk of the recovery being under way we’re not far enough down that road yet to be certain how sustainable it is,” added Smallbone.

“In general the investments garages are proposing are to ensure existing technicians and other staff have the most up-to-date knowledge, skills and tools to the job in what is a rapidly technologically advancing industry.”

When it comes to the issue of funding these business developments however, two-thirds of garages said that they would not be liaising with their bank for financial capital, while only 16 per cent indicated they would be looking for funding elsewhere.

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