My earliest memory of my dad is holding his hand and walking through a Renault workshop on Arthurs Quay in Limerick: a dealer I would later serve my apprenticeship with. Happy days as father and son, when curious kids were welcome in workshops. A recent visit to the Warwick Renault dealer showed those days are gone.
Middle daughter’s godfather is a race car restorer, so we’re always in workshops, at local garages, friends’ places and working on our own cars at home, but it’s sad that petrolheads can’t take their inquisitive offspring around shiny dealership workshops these days, for fear of litigation. There must be something we can do here.
Eldest daughter recently did a Bikesafe course, where local police teach older schoolchildren about two-wheeled road safety. Dropping her Raleigh off on the day, it seemed to me that the greatest hazards were the bikes. I ended up getting the spanners out.
Local primary schools love courses like Bikesafe, and the owners of the brakes and saddles I adjusted enjoyed seeing how their machines worked. It made me wonder: as Bikesafe is likely to be a casualty of public spending cuts, what about dealerships sponsoring some local Bikesafe courses: hooking up with police and schools, for some basic bike maintenance, in conjunction with cycle safety lessons?
Put a personable retired mechanic who wants to top up his pension in a liveried parts van and send him out with the bobbies, to check a few brakes and apply some ‘Bikesafe Approved’ stickers. Then invite the kids and parents from a number of schools to the dealership after lunchtime closing one Saturday, to see the workings of a real-world workshop and learn a bit about car technology. Few hot dogs, few burgers: job’s a good ‘un.
This has it all: pester power, capturing loyalties, community involvement (with some lovely spin-off PR potential) and satisfying the junior appetite for nuts, bolts and independence. It’s a bit of bonus marketing that needn’t cost a fortune. Makes me want to be ten again.