Franchise Dealer garages showed us the way to a Clean Garage
As an independent garage and tyre retailer, there is one thing that I admire about franchise and main dealer garages, that’s that they have always led the way in the presentation and cleanliness of their premises. I suppose that you could well argue that selling a new or second hand car is different to selling tyres, or servicing cars, but you have got to admire their presentation and a Clean Garage in the eyes of the public, and I admire them for that. Many of you who read this article will be from a franchise environment and it will be interesting to hear some feedback about where the ideas actually come from. Perhaps a lot of the ideas come from the car manufacturers that the garages sell the cars for, the bigger the manufacturer the better the décor and cleanliness seems to be.
We independents, especially the “one man band” operations have always had to cope on our own and the state of the garages always depended on the cleanliness and training of the owner or manager, in other words a scruffy owner would probably have a dirty old fashioned garage.
I think in the 70’s here in the UK, that we were guilty of bad housekeeping and even the large chains that were owned by the tyre manufacturer such as National tyres and Tyreservices were trading in the dark ages and were no better than the one man band garages. Once a new branch had opened they were usually painted and decorated in the company’s logo, but after that it was all downhill and the depot turned into a normal type dirty garage. Of course it depended on the manager some managers even gave the depot a lick of paint from the petty cash, but in general these large companies did not have a “repair and renewal budget” to keep the Clean Garage up to scratch.
Then came along the Kwikfit chain of garages.
In my opinion, “love them or hate them” Kwikfit came along and raised the standard. Tom Farmer the founder of the company visited the USA and saw the high standards that the American garages had climbed to. When he took over some of the old Firestone retail depots to form Kwik Fit Exhausts, he brought the American way of tyre retailing to the UK. Everything was to a high standard and clean, the staff were clean and wore corporate clothing, just like the main dealer franchise garages.
This to me was a great inspiration and to compete with Kwik Fit Tyres, we made sure that we kept our own garages “spic and span” maintaining cleanliness and the décor to the highest standards that we could afford. The type of image that Kwikfit put out was replicated by many people who were then working in the tyres and garages businesses across the UK. We could see that once a customer had visited Kwikfit, then they weren’t going to go back to dirty old garages down a back street any more, “the Clean Garage standards were raised”, for good.
Garages today should have no excuses for looking shabby. We all have busy days or lousy wet weather when our floors look a mess, but that’s acceptable as long as we have a good old fashioned “sweep up” at the end of the day. The other month, I had to call into a garage on my travels because I got caught short and needed the toilet, (my age), it was in Lancashire on my way to a Point-S meeting. The garage guys were very kind and let me use the toilet. My God? I wished I had not bothered the toilets were disgusting, they were filthy, the sink was cracked and the hot water did not work,”wow”, I thanked them and went on my way. We should all have well decorated clean toilets for our customers to use if nature calls. Our customers deserve high standards, they deserve a nice reception area to sit in, while they wait for their car to be repaired, they deserve a well decorated clean and tidy garage with nice clean well-dressed staff to repair their cars. They deserve staff that wear protective gloves and use car mats and wing covers to keep their well-loved cars clean while they are in for repair or a service. If they do not get all this then you will be a looser, especially that now we have many female customers calling in to our garages and tyre centres.
Don’t forget that the franchise garages are now offering cheap tyres sold to them by the wholesalers, and cut price servicing, so we must pull our “fingers out” and keep up Clean Garage high standards to compete in the future.
Article written by Eric Roberts...www.mot-halifax.co.uk
Pellon Tyre and Auto-centre offer car and van servicing and repairs to all makes of vehicles. We are members of Unipart Car Care centres and give a nationwide guarantee for all our work and parts. We also sell tyres online from our website www.pellonautocentre.com by using the tyre selector and choosing your tyre size. We offer courtesy cars to local motorists who need to go to work and leave their car with us for work doing. We are also an official MOT testing station and are members of Motor-codes, who carry out checks for high standard of equipment and workmanship.