Can Our Industry Handle a Busy Summer?

After many months of low volumes caused by consistently mild and predictable weather, is there light and the end of the tunnel for the recovery industry? Our industry is without doubt weather driven and in particular any rapid change in weather. Recent days have seen an increase in volumes with the large increase in temperatures and the recent hot weather has led to a dramatic escalation in volumes of broken down, accident damaged and vehicle fires. So, is this just a flash in the pan or are we likely to see a sustained level of demand for the next 6 months or so? The Met Office predict that the pattern for the coming summer months will follow a pattern of periods of high summer temperatures followed by intense thunderstorms which will clear the air, allowing for the cycle to begin again. We can expect high volumes of breakdowns, in particular overheating vehicles / vehicle fires followed by large numbers of accidents during the heavy downpours creating treacherous driving conditions. That said, one of the biggest issues has been the lack of roadusers caused by high unemployment and the slow down in the economy as less people take to the road to do business or go to work. Last year fuel got to a point where its high price caused customers to change their driving habits and actively avoid using their vehicles, causing a large drop in demand for vehicle fuel. This lack of road use was what drove fuel prices from their high point in August last year to a record low during the winter of 2008. Could we see another dramatic effect on our businesses this Summer as yet another external factor causes a dramatic shift in the market when it comes to UK holidaymakers choice of destination for their summer holidays in 2009? The hot weather is one factor that will factor that will certainly encourage penny conscious holiday makers to head to the coast rather than head abroad, after all why head to sunnier climes when its sunny enough just down the road to nearest bit of UK coastline? I firmly believe that this year will see a massive increase in the UK holidaymaker setting the UK as their summer holiday destination. The other factor that will influence where we holiday this summer is the lack of strength in the pound, with euro’s and dollars still at a relative high we simply cant get the same value abroad that we are used to. Could you realistically afford to holiday abroad knowing that a beer would be costing you between £4 and £8 depending on where you chose to go on holiday, making the euro option unlikely simply due to the high cost of your spending money. With these two factors combined, the net result is certainly going to be the highest volume of summer traffic we have seen, certainly in the last 3 years and possibly the last 10. So the final question is can our industry deliver when it has had to cut back both on manpower and vehicles to ride the economic storm of the last year? I doubt our industry can initially cope with such a dramatic upturn in demand as has been bourn out by recent days where ETA’s for major motoring organisations across the country have been well in excess of the norm. The next stage will be a rapid recruitment and vehicle acquisition programme to meet this new level of demand which in such a period high unemployment and high levels of second hand vehicle stock won’t be the same kind of challenge the industry has faced in recent years. I believe we will adapt and we will deliver because as an industry we are dynamic collective of problem solvers who will rise to the challenge and ensure that the UK motoring public are safe and its highways and byways remain free flowing. Whether we will actually achieve what is going to be a massive task for vastly unknown and unrecognised industry will only be seen when the caravans and picnic rugs have all been packed away in a few months time. Mark McAllister McAllister’s Recovery