Full diaries at car garages: 'Very busy for a long time'

It is busy at car garages, in the Netherlands, and also in Maastricht. Given the time of year – with the summer holidays just around the corner – this does not seem so strange. However, according to some garage owners, something has changed: "It has been very busy for a long time."

According to garage owner Peter Jongen, this is mainly due to the fact that there are fewer and fewer universal garages. "Many smaller garages in Maastricht have ceased operations in recent years, whether or not due to economic problems. The larger garages increasingly no longer work only for one car brand, but for several; they then take over garages. It makes the pressure on the smaller (service) garages ever greater." 

Tricky scheduling
Another problem is that people arrive very late when they need an algemene periodieke keuring – APK (general periodic inspection), for instance. That while an APK can be carried out in the Netherlands as early as 2 months before it expires. But often people wait until the last minute, making it more difficult for the garage owner to plan.

One solution to the huge rush is of course to hire more staff: "But that's where the next problem starts," Jongen argues. Indeed, as in other industries, it is also difficult for garage owners to find good mechanics.

VDL Nedcar
Yet Jongen also sees positive developments. Due to the layoffs at VDL Nedcar, more people with an affinity for cars will appear on the labour market in the near future, he expects. But whether that will solve the problem remains to be seen.

Should you want to do yourself, your car and your garage owner a favour – and that certainly applies to an APK inspection too – garage owner Clement Buschgens advises to at least make an appointment in time. You can do this as early as 2 months before the end of the period. And this does not affect the new inspection period, because it simply starts on the date stated on the APK notice.

Ronald van den Hoven