KEEPING CUSTOMERS AT THE HEART OF THE OPERATION

Nikos Germanou shows us around the Brunswick Garage in North London

Nikos

After businessman (and CAT columnist) Andy Savva sold north-London’s Brunswick Garage last December, we were keen to see the operation in new hands. Nikos Germanou, Managing Director worked with Savva for over 16 years; starting his career at the tender age of 17. Germanou explained: “I started with Andy in 1990 at his ‘then’ garage Motor Services in Muswell Hill before moving to the Shaftesbury Garage in Crouch End where we won the Independent Garage of the Year Award 2001”.

Savva eventually sold Shaftesbury Garage, East Barnet, in 2005, with Germanou moving on shortly after to manage an independent in Welham Green for eight years before rejoining Andy at Brunswick Garage in 2014. He elaborated: “I ran the Welham Garage for eight years, building up the business and making a good profit, but I wanted a little bit more from the company than just a wage, so I decided to look for my own garage”. Germanou was advised by Savva not to buy any of the garages he had viewed and instead, offered him a Manager’s position with bonus schemes at Brunswick Garage.

In 2015, Savva was ready to sell up in order to pursue other business ventures leaving Germanou to continue working under new management. However, after completing a management buyout with a team of private investors, Germanou became one of the new owners who carried on the business. “It was a big step buying the garage because of the amount of money, but after getting a partner in, we managed to
buy the business within a month” he said.
“From day one, I have always followed in Andy’s footstep’s and the way I run the garage is exactly how he runs it by always putting the customers first”.

WORKSHOP
As we entered the workshop, it reminded us that this is larger than your standard independent with the 14,000 sq ft. space comprising 12 service ramps, one wheel ramp and two MOT bays catering to class four, five and seven vehicles. Germanou elaborated: “The core vehicles we work on are BMW, VAG and Land Rover. We also do other brands from Minis up to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley, so we have quite a vast range of cars that we cater for”.

TOOLS AND PRODUCTS
With so many different models coming in for servicing, the team are equipped for the challenge thanks to the latest diagnostic tools and garage equipment on site. “The main diagnostic tool we use is the new Autologic Assist”, said Germanou. “We also use the Snap-on Verus Pro tool for fixing faults first time round”. He told CAT that Tecalemit is the firm’s core supplier for its braking, testing and lifting equipment.

TRAINING
It seems imperative whether you’re running an independent or franchised garage to invest in staff training to keep workforces updated with ongoing product developments. Brunswick Garage stays ahead of the game by sending its technicians on at least two courses each year. “We are part of the Royal Motoring Industry (RMI) so we try to do as many Bosch courses as we can”, Germanou added: “We are also doing a few BMW courses at the BMW Academy and some ZF training courses”.

Workshop has 12 service ramps

Workshop has 12 service ramps

Although it’s mandatory to get your staff fully trained, enrolling onto a course can get pricey, especially with the changes to MOT Tester Training as Germanou highlights: “The changes to MOT tester training has affected us in a way because I’m trying to get some of our guys trained up and the RMI training courses aren’t cheap anymore whereas before it was free through the government. This has left us funding the training ourselves which is a little hard along with the amount of time off for staff as well”. Funding issues aside, this doesn’t seem to have taken a toll on business with some exciting plans in the pipeline.

WINTER PREPARATION
While the team prepare for the winter months, Germanou discussed his business strategy for the New Year. “In 2017, I’d like to achieve one or two more staff from the Land Rover or VAG brands, which would benefit the company. There’s also going to be many more hybrids coming in the next couple of years so we’re trying to organise some courses for that”, he concluded: “My view is to progress with the training to try and become one of the first independent hybrid specialists. It’s all about electronics now and that’s what I’m aiming towards for the future”.

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- who has written 160 posts on CAT Magazine.


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