Who will win the race to the bottom?

Saving money is an important factor in this tough economic climate. There are many  daily habits you can change to do it efficiently and unfortunately you may need to cut on usual spending you’ve never changed before. But you just can’t cut with some primary needs, and safety is one of them. 

There are many products for which you will never try to save with, like medicines, or food for your children. You’ll never accept poor quality for these products even if you must pay more for it, because you’ll never play with your health or that of your family.

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The safety of your vehicle should be regarded in the same vein. It’s not enough to simply base your decisions on which garage might offer you the cheaper price when replacing safety critical components, like for example brake pads. Poor quality brake pads will not give longevity of use, may be noisy and not brake effectively. Any experienced purchaser will ask for a brake down of items contained in any quotation which highlights the cost and specific elements within. This is also good practice when researching the cost of car repairs.

The motor industry has always been the subject of bad press and poor reputation and so it is important that you take control and analyze exactly what it is you are paying for. There will always be a reason why one workshop will be more expensive than the other but given the different qualities of product on the market and the differing levels of skills and competences, it is not necessarily down to a garage making extra profit.

Of course if the cheapest garage always gets the work it can only result in its competitors consistently searching for cheaper products which will generally be of inferior quality. In this scenario it’s a race to the bottom and nobody wins.

 

 

Mountain climbing in slippers or winter tyres

You don’t need the roads covered with snow and ice to benefit from winter tyres. Winter tyres certainly come into there own with snow, slush and icy roads but that’s not the only time you benefit. When temperatures are low, Winter tyres also give better grip and traction on wet roads with their asymmetric tread pattern better designed to give more bite. Put simply, would you prefer to climb a mountain in a pair of slippers or with a chunky soled hiking boot?

Standard tyres are produced with a different rubber compound and perform better during warm climates but when temperatures drop below 7˚C they are greatly surpassed by the silica base mix on winter tyres which ensures that they remain soft in the colder temperatures.

With snowfall practically guaranteed again this year and the normal seasonal low temperatures in Ireland, October to March are the recommended months to drive on winter tyres.

Tyre retailers in Ireland have yet to experience a consistency and market to economically justify fully catering for the panic demand and are hampered by availability when the demand is high. As with all commodities, when they are scarce and in demand, the supply chain prices increase.

So the choice is left with you. If you decide on winter tyres this year, I advise you act early and pre-book them.

The downside of course is the cost of changing and storing the tyres when not in use. This begs the question, how would winter tyres perform during warm summer months? With summer tyres of comparable quality, wet cornering and breaking would be better by approximately 10% and as much as 15-20% in dry breaking so it makes sense to change back to a rubber compound more suited to the warm conditions.

Whatever you decide, please drive carefully this winter and always remember that other road users may not be as well prepared as you.

Should you have any further questions on tyres or indeed technical car issues, then simply ask. I would be happy to help.

Reduce prices to the unemployed

These are certainly hard times for most people. The last recession Ireland experienced does not seem as difficult and widespread as the one we are experiencing now. This time around is different, as so many people had put themselves in a position of huge debt before the enormous downturn. Many young couples are experiencing difficulty for the first time and the fall from the boom times is taking its toll.

As a business owner I am too well aware of the current economic struggle and the recessions indifference as to where the axe will fall. Painfully I have observed many friends losing their jobs. It is regardless of their abilities or record of achievement, but more for the need of companies to downsize due to a retracting marketplace.

It is precisely at a time like this, we all need to pull together and look for opportunities to help each other where we can. The neediest in our society are within the masses of unemployed and all businesses should realise that their capacity to spend for goods and services is near to non existent and represents a very small fraction of their turnover. I do appreciate that many businesses are struggling to pay their costs and remain open, however should this sector be a fraction of your revenue, an increase in volume will justify a lower margin. Given that you will be covering your costs, your profit can be the help you have given others. I am sure your help will be appreciated long into the future.

September is a particularly expensive time for families as the children return to school, the nights draw in and the weather deteriorates. The need for finance is very demanding and brings enormous strain and pressure to bear. As business owners we have the capacity to ease this pain on the unemployed and I ask that you consider reducing your prices to them, in particular for items that would be considered necessities.

As the owner of two businesses I am discounting my prices until the end of September as a trial period as follows.

Motorway Parts & Accessories. A discount of 20% will apply to all service and vehicle maintenance products.

Automotif Tyre & Service Centre. A discount of 10% will apply to all mechanical services and products.

All discounts apply only to what I consider to be necessities in the upkeep, safety and maintenance of the vehicles, as opposed to accessories. To ensure customers qualify for this discount, they will be asked to provide the registration certificate of the vehicle and their corresponding unemployment card.

I can only ask the public do not abuse this scheme and refrain from producing previously held unemployment cards and as a safeguard, we may also ask to see a recent notification or correspondence from the department of social welfare. I also realise that I may encounter further issues in the application of this scheme and therefore reserve the right to retract it, should the need arise.

I have little doubt you will know of people that will be happy to hear and avail of this scheme, so please pass the word along.

Any other businesses who wish to apply this idea might please contact me with a view to setting up a discount FaceBook page or website. It would be great to have a number of savings listed in a centralised source.

Paul Allen

paulallen@motorway.ie