Tag Archive | "Garages"

J S AUTOS UP IN FLAMES

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J S AUTOS UP IN FLAMES


Fire at Empress Road, Southampton. © Daily Echo/Solent News & Photo AgencyUK

Family-run garage J S Autos, along with three other car repair businesses, were engulfed in flames after a fire broke out on Thursday morning.

The incident took place on Empress Road, Southampton where 79 fire fighters rushed to the scene to battle the blaze. No casualties were reported while police and ambulance services offered support to local residents and bystanders.

The family business, which has served the area for over 40 years, took the brunt of the fire suffering from smashed windows and broken vehicles when the roof collapsed in on itself.

Speaking to the Southern Daily Echo, Jhalman Rai, owner of JS Autos said. “It’s 40 years of business down the drain. It’s a family business and it happened so fast. I was coming back from a test drive and the business next door, people were working on a car,” he continued. “Smoke started coming from it and then all of a sudden it just went up, flames everywhere and we had to get out.”

Also speaking to the newspaper, Kevin Evenett, Incident Commander added: “There were multiple businesses affected and it appears that they were all interlinked. We had 79 personnel on scene and ten pumps and fortunately everyone was out and okay wn we arrived”.

“It’s definitely a reasonable size incident and that thick black smoke is tyres, grime and oil. Cars were involved in the fire but we don’t know how many, and the roof of the building has collapsed in on itself”.

The fire services  deemed the area ‘safe’ the next day (Friday 21st) at 9:25am.

The cause of the fire is still not known as the Hampshire Fire and Rescue continue their investigation.

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MINI DUCTOR VENOM SHOWCASES AT AUTOMECHANIKA BIRMINGHAM


PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF INDUCTION INNOVATIONS

The highly innovative version of the Mini-Ductor® induction heating tool, the Venom™, will be demonstrated on the Sykes-Pickavant stand, 17A9, at this year’s Automechanika Birmingham.

The Mini-Ductor® Venom™ generates Invisible Heat® to release ferrous and some non-ferrous metals from corrosion and thread lock compounds without the dangers of an open flame. The tool can be used for a wide variety of applications and 19mm nuts are turned hot in around 15 seconds.

Tom Gough, President of Induction Innovations, Inc. the tool’s manufacturer says, “Venom’s features allows users to repair vehicles and equipment faster, safer and more profitably, and to salvage parts normally discarded.”

Visitors to Automechanika will be able to see the tool in action, in a controlled working environment. Rob Hawker, Product Development and Training Manager for Sykes-Pickavant says, “This is a truly unique tool – a must have for automotive technicians. We’re looking forward to showing visitors how it will help transform the way they work.”

Special coils offer
All Mini-Ductor® Venom™ orders placed by the end of April 2017 will come with a free coil kit worth £125 + VAT. Place your order and claim your free coil kit by calling 01953 859138 or emailing info@theinductor.co.uk

To watch an overview of the Venom™ in action, visit The Inductor UK’s YouTube channel and view the product spec at www.theinductor.co.uk

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CHOOSING THE BEST TIME TO EXPAND

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CHOOSING THE BEST TIME TO EXPAND


Going up in size can be daunting, but there are a number of options to be considered while doing it.

Mike Owen

Recently, we’ve been approached by several businesses looking to expand, most of them asking about what criteria to use to be in the best position post expansion/acquisition – the answer is simple, follow your entrepreneurial nose! The real question is, has your current business got enough strength to support such an acquisition?

All businesses follow a basic maxim and that is of generating a return on investment. If a company generates sales of a million pounds and a profit of £100K then this is a return of 10% – simple. If you look at that same company and say that the investment in premises, stock, working capital is £250k then the return on investment is 40%; the invested money has rotated four times and generated 10% each lap – ‘circulation of funds employed’ multiplied by ‘return on sales’ equals ‘return on investment’. This is not supposed to be a lesson in accountancy but a yard stick that can be used to evaluate a business’s readiness to expand.

Using the above company again and extrapolating the figures forward some strange things start to occur. The £100K profits this year, after dividends, tax and a myriad of other distributions, is reduced to perhaps £30K and this amount is held within the company then the investment is increased to £280K, circulation drops to (£1m / £280K = 3.6) and the return reduced to 36% and so on – all the time profits are replacing borrowed funds the investment remains the same; once the profits (or reserves) are building up inside the company then the investment increases – time to expand.

LEAN AND FAT
Rule number one – Fat companies become complacent! Lean companies fight for survival, stay alert to every opportunity and cost increases. In general terms the worst thing to have in a business is money; money should be invested in stock and ‘turned’ but overstocking is the ultimate in stupidity. Businesses that ‘take offers’ that exceed their immediate stock requirements can adversely affect the equilibrium of their returns.

Once a company becomes fat then it needs investment to keep the speed of circulation up and maintain the returns so here is a basic requirement that needs to be satisfied in considering further expansion. Another is the ‘gearing ratio’, the amount of borrowed funds to equity; equity equating to the company’s own funds. We look at this a little differently to most and believe that, particularly now, the ability to repay the interest on, together with the pay-down of the principal amount, of any borrowings is the ‘grail’ rather than the amount borrowed. We considered it good practice to keep repayments below 25% of cash profits – exceeding this may throw you under the bus if rates increase or the cost of stock goes stratospheric post-Brexit.

But of course business expansion looks good on paper – that’s why we do it; reality generally removes the rose-tinted glasses very quickly. Experience dictates that a business planning for expansion rarely gives consideration to the detriment that will happen to the existing business. Most accountants and finance directors will suggest that it brings ‘economies of scale’; basically, if you are taking over another company you will take out the acquired management in favour of current management overseeing both businesses, this rarely works. Surprisingly we often overlook the ‘involvement’ of management in day-to-day operation and how unavailability due to being ‘elsewhere’ will frustrate staff and customers alike.

The most important aspect of business expansion is policy transfer – ask yourself ‘how many times a day do staff ask me…?’ Each of these questions state, in big letter, there is no policy for this item so staff either ask you, don’t want to be held accountable (due to insufficient delegation) or are too lazy to take a decision; before you start expanding getting this right simplifies life post purchase. Instilling missing policies and procedures in the new business will tax your tolerances, putting it into two (or more) is the absolute stuff of nightmares.

DIRTY TALK
Now we must really talk dirty – Health and Safety! If your current business is not squeaky clean then it damn well should be! You owe every member of staff the right to be safe at work and return home alive. H&S does little more than this and whilst it would test the patience of a saint, it is a necessity – No business owner can abdicate responsibility by delegation even to an HR officer so, post purchase, you will have your head on two blocks. Two options present themselves; employ an external specialist company or get your own ‘Gestapo’ but have monthly meetings with them, minute the decisions and make it happen; the Health and Safety Executive, should they swoop, will expect these to be available together with actions taken.

We test readiness of companies both financially and structurally prior to undertaking their expansion programmes and it is an ongoing source of amazement at how much within some companies is left to assumption – assuming that staff know what is expected of them leading to incredulity when they don’t.

MODERN CURIOSITY

Now for the up-side. This is a good time to invest and to expand your business. The day of ‘the old curiosity shop’ business is over – this is the time of the professional; at every level. The days of holistic growth is gone, as is the premise of just opening a new depot in the hope that customers will come in just because you are there; it was former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who stated “‘change’ is not a destination, just as ‘hope’ is not a strategy! Ensure that any intended change is not based on hope? Create a plan and test the it with as many ‘what ifs’ that you can imagine – one of them is bound to happen! Any expansion must then be measured against that plan and progress and performance religiously monitored; any shortfall or deviation is costing you money.

Acquisition is often the lesser evil as, whilst you will acquire some problems, you start with a going concern. Don’t miss out on performing your ‘due diligence’, don’t just delegate this to accountants; bean-counters can check the finances but you know about the business – use your expertise and be sure you are buying an asset rather than a liability.

Expansion is the land of the bold not the silly; of course you should look to grow but rather like buying at auction it’s no use asking those around you if you’ve done the right thing – if they thought it was right they’d have done it first! ‘Tener cojones’ and self belief is your starter pack everything else follows!

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THE MOTORING COMPLAINTS CULTURE

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THE MOTORING COMPLAINTS CULTURE


Steph Savill thinks that garage codes and complaint handling processes don’t make up for the lack of adequate regulation

steph

The image of the motor industry in too many motorists’ minds, fuelled by dubious garage surveys I suspect, is that it’s open for complaints. There’s no one organisation responsible for the industry’s reputation, the industry is largely unregulated, motorists are encouraged to buy cheap garage services despite safety concerns, staff don’t have to be licensed to service/repair or sell us used cars and bad businesses don’t join good trade associations.

COMPLAINTS HOTLINE
When it comes to CTSI schemes however, all make a selling point of their respective complaints handling processes whilst smaller and genuinely independent mediators are priced out of competing here.

Even a new industry service called THE Motor Ombudsman can restrict its CTSI approved services to the good garages and dealers, mostly franchised dealerships, that subscribe to it. Not the bad garages or dealers where an affordable Ombudsman service is needed most.

This means that trusting motorists who are ripped off by unscrupulous garages or car dealers have little support to call on, other than from Citizens Advice, the media or potentially expensive law courts, when things go wrong. There also seems no government awareness or will to remedy this area.

INDUSTRY PROBLEM
Fortunately I am an optimist as well as a realist so my contribution to this debate is to promote ALL measurable signs of garage and dealer quality to as many women as I can, working with the measurably best quality businesses to do this whilst encouraging more (brave) women to enter the industry to change its macho culture from within.motor_complaints_culture

When all else fails and females, in particular, fare badly despite our intervention, hell hath no more fury than this Foxy Lady. After giving the business the opportunity to learn from and address a serious complaint, we will ultimately hand out and promote Red Cards within the Club about ‘couldn’t care less’ bad motor businesses so Club members know to steer clear of them.

One thing is for certain – I’m not giving up in this area because women need to know about the many good guys in this industry who’ve invested in being better than the rest and deserve to thrive ahead of lesser others!

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KWIK FIT REFUTES MAIL ON SUNDAY INVESTIGATION

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KWIK FIT REFUTES MAIL ON SUNDAY INVESTIGATION


Chain denies tabloid claims

Chain denies tabloid claims

A story in the Mail on Sunday in February claimed that Kwik-Fit charged for parts that were never fitted on a car.

The article claimed that a reporter was told that her wheel ‘might fall off’ if she didn’t replace a bearing and charged for a plugs that were ‘not fitted’. Kwik-Fit responded with a statement that rebuffed most of the claims in the article. “We made a series of recommendations in respect of these cars, the majority of which the newspaper accepted were reasonable, however the article focused on a small number of allegations with which we fundamentally disagree” the statement read.

“We provided evidence to the newspaper to support our case, and offered to re-inspect the cars, however they refused and published the story. It is entirely appropriate and correct that we provide you with further details that counter the allegations made by the Mail on Sunday”.

The chain also published a read-out from the alignment equipment, which it says shows the vehicle presented was ‘ever so slightly toeing’ and the adjustment brought it back into manufacturer’s tolerance.

On the subject of the spark plugs, Kwik Fit says that it recovered waste spark plugs with UV dye on it “thus establishing that it did come from the car in question”. It also refuted that ‘scare tactics’ were used to sell a wheel bearing.

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM THINK SMARTER

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM THINK SMARTER


David Massey explores using car forums and social media to work for him at little cost.

massey

I couldn’t count the amount of times I’ve heard a customer say, “I’ve been on a forum and I think it’s this…” It is extremely annoying and turns me into someone angry and not very approachable. I guess it’s typical of the male ego, ‘how dare you tell me what I’m doing’ irrespective of the truth. It is true that some customers spend a decent amount of time sifting through the web and come up with some good info, but others will seek out any explanation of why a dash light has come on, for example, and are not easily dissuaded from their theory when confronted with expert evidence.

So if customers that browse the internet and tell you how to fix cars make your blood boil and gets you angry… then good! Because that means you have the motivation to do something about it.

It struck me that if customers can search and find specific information about their cars then why can’t you find specific customers for your business? The cat becomes the mouse and you’re holding all the cheese.

SPECIFIC CUSTOMERS
This is a brilliant opportunity where you can target and reach very specific audiences and really focus on your selected customer base that maximises profit and cuts out the unwanted work and customers we all dread.

If you type in a common fault into Google – I don’t know, let’s say intermittent loss of power 1.9 diesel VW undoubtedly the first place you would stumble across is a forum with 100’s of posts about turbo vanes sticking or faulty AMM’s. Try it for yourself, go on stop reading this for a minute and try it.

Now what if you had the ability and knowledge to direct people to your website instead and read informative and interesting articles about their problem? In other words by having blog posts or Facebook articles pointing to your site.

In January we were pretty quiet in the workshop and feeling fed up, I decided I wanted to learn how to build and optimise my own website. With fairly basic computer IT skills the amount I learned to never ever rely on third parties to promote and grow your business because nobody in the world has either the same passion or more importantly the same unique knowledge as you do about your business.

Before this exercise my website looked great but was very poorly ranked on Google and I couldn’t be found unless you actually typed in my URL (full web address). Most of my page listings could be found between page 10-20 of which I honestly believe have never been visited since the dawn of the Internet.

I specifically targeted the customers and demographics I wanted to target with strategic and careful methods by using specific faults, vehicle specific info and DTC’s embedded behind and into my website.

TOP RANKING
My website is now ranked first for just about every VW/Audi/ seat/Skoda related search in the Preston area and further afield. If you don’t believe me try it for yourself now with your smart phone or laptop.

I have done this extremely successfully, in fact so successfully it caught me off guard and has completely redefined ADS as a business. Just humour me and try this for a minute, carry out a search for Audi RS4 inlet valve cleaning and see who’s website comes up.

The key is to think like a customer and not like a garage owner, who might type something entirely different to what our customers would.

All this data can be very easily analysed by using web analytics which gives us the opportunity to react accordingly and adjust our key words embedded within our websites or SEO (search engine optimisation).

You have to ask yourself why on earth would you pay a third party who knows very little about your business and cares even less be good at doing it for you? Simple when you think about it.

There’s nothing new in what I’ve discovered only the skills in order to implement the changes. Big companies do all this as a matter of routine, but most garages are literally decades behind in getting to grips with social media and an effective online marketing strategy.

The truth is change is happening and there’s nothing we can do to stop that. We must embrace the change instead.

If you’re curious to know a little more I have created and designed an in house web development program aimed at helping garage business emulate our success. Like the old saying: If I can do it, so can you.

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IS YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS SITTING ON A GOLDMINE?

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IS YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS SITTING ON A GOLDMINE?


Existing customers are the key to reaching that pot of gold, writes Andy Vickery

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

If you’re worrying about your garage’s declining MOT or servicing count, or the fact that you’re having to take more and more low value work from online referral sites, did you know that you could actually be sat on your own pot of gold that could be a solution to your worries?

This pot of gold is likely to be in your computer and contained within your garage management system – and it’s called ‘customers’. Obvious really, but in reality, existing customers are very often overlooked in terms of marketing or gaining more business in favour of chasing new customers.

Outside of the garage trade, marketing to existing customers seems to be a recognised and well-implemented method of maintaining and indeed increasing business. But for some reason, many garages are yet to take this on-board.

I know this to be true because I have talked to and worked with many garage owners who have databases of many thousands of previous customers and when I’ve asked them how often they contact them, they say ‘never’. They might send the odd MOT or service reminder, but that’s it. One garage owner I met, who’d been in business for 30+ years, who was recently struggling, and was clearly cynical about marketing in general, actually said to me: “why would we want to waste money contacting customers? They’ve used us before and know what we are like”. Not his fault for thinking this, you would kind of like it to be the case, but consumer buying procedures and habits are now changing, along with technology that is potentially disrupting what we once assumed or could rely on.

A strategy of marketing to your existing customers can be extremely beneficial to your business for many reasons, but before I go into those reasons, I’d like to rollback slightly to the importance of making sure you capture customer information in the first place.

ARE YOU CAPTURING YOUR CUSTOMERS’ DETAILS?

Making sure you have your customers’ ‘full’ contact details is extremely important for your business, but it still seems that many are uncomfortable with asking for this. Along with a customer’s physical address, you need to make sure you obtain an email address and mobile phone number.

This should become standard procedure when booking in a customer or at the point of handing back the car. It’s probably better at the outset as you can state that you may need to contact the customer. You can also make it a standard procedure to email receipts/ invoices to customers, a bit like some large retailers do. If the customer is reluctant to give details, tell them that they will be able to have a record they can file on their computer that will be handy when they come to sell the car. This is just an idea, but hopefully you get the picture – there are ways of gently getting this information, but you may have to counter a customer’s natural objection to disclosing personal info’ – tell them they will be entered into your monthly draw if it helps.

comped-pot-and-tree

EXISTING CUSTOMER DATA
So it is a great idea to implement a standard procedure for obtaining all customer information, but what about your existing customer information? Many businesses will have data that is incomplete or lacking email addresses or mobile phone numbers purely because they date back to pre- technology days.

In the first instance, it would be good to go through the data that you do have to try to categorise it somehow for future marketing. Obviously if you don’t have email addresses, you won’t be able to email those customers, but ‘lost’ customer letters and mailings are still a good technique of bringing business back in. You can then update the customer details when they come in.

WHY MARKET TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS?
Let’s try and answer the question raised by the garage owner who didn’t think it was necessary to market to existing customers. Customer long-term value: In the first instance, customers should be viewed in terms of their ‘long term value’ – not just a one-off sale. In terms of marketing, maximising the long- term value of a customer is much more cost-effective than trying to obtain new customers. If you consider the value of a customer over five or ten years, this will help you understand the value of investing in marketing to retain them.

Customer retention: Is there such a thing as brand or customer loyalty anymore? Yes, this is still alive and kicking, but it has to be worked at and earned. People have very short memories and can be easily tempted by other offers, especially if they are not shown that they are appreciated or important. Staying top of mind is extremely important if you want customers to return year-on-year, especially in this highly competitive and technologically disruptive age.

Upselling other services:
Making sure your customers are aware of your complete range of services is very important in terms of maximising their value. This will also make sure you don’t lose out when a customer goes elsewhere for a service that you could have otherwise provided. You may have recently added services; you may offer tyres, you may be air conditioning specialists – but you shouldn’t take for granted that your customers will know this.

Displaying your expertise:
Customers will often have questions in mind when they need help with their motors. They may have come to you for a service or MOT, but do you offer diesel diagnostics? Can you work on the brand or model of new car they’ve just purchased? Can you work on electric hybrids? It’s easy to assume that a customer would know this, but often it’s not the case. This sort of information must be given to existing customers on a regular basis, that way you will stop them going elsewhere for services you provide.

Justifying prices: When we did a survey a while back, although price was important to customers, it wasn’t the most important reason a garage retained their best customers. In terms of your ideal type of customer, you stand a better chance of justifying your particular level of pricing when you regularly communicate what you can do and your levels of expertise, that way, customers will understand the value of what they are getting and won’t question price.

Getting referral business: A key reason for marketing to existing customers is to stay top of mind when they need you, but a by-product of this is you also stand a much better chance of getting recommendations and referrals from your existing customers. You can even use this as a reason to contact existing customers, telling them that they will be rewarded for referrals.

TURNING YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS INTO GOLD
So whilst you might be sat on a goldmine, you will have to work at it and ‘mine it’ to convert its value. This can be achieved by regularly staying in contact with your database of existing customers. By doing this you will make sure they keep coming back to you year-on-year, buying more services from you, whilst also recommending you to others – that’s the gold!

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CAT AWARDS 2017: VOTING CLOSED

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CAT AWARDS 2017: VOTING CLOSED


Print

The voting has now closed the 2017 CAT Awards.

The CAT Awards in their current form have been around for ten years, but we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to keep the event fresh and the Awards themselves the must-have trophy for any business.

The 2017 event will be held on February 10 in the stylish surroundings of the Lowry hotel in Manchester. and we’ve revised the line-up of Awards categories to keep it relevant to the aftermarket.

Come back after the Awards to find out who this years winners are.

Thanks again to our sponsors, whoare:

 

Automechanika

Motaquip

Bosal

Haynes Pro

Haynes

Impression Communications

Mannol UK

PG Automotive Recruitment

 

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MARKETING YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS EFFECTIVELY

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MARKETING YOUR GARAGE BUSINESS EFFECTIVELY


Marketing is more than just a token social media page, writes Andy Vickery

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Andy Vickery is a consultant for the aftermarket

Let’s cut to the chase, marketing to most garage owners and businesses is a can of worms. What works, what doesn’t? Are print, direct mail and advertising dead? Should we do more emails – should we do a video?

To most, marketing appears to be a smoke and mirrors art that is more about luck and being in the right place at the right time. After all, you’ve tried it and nothing appears to have worked before.

The problem is there are so many elements within marketing to attend to, but most only ever see the end results of what others are doing – an email, mailer or advert, and not what is going on behind it all. The best that most can come up with then is to copy what others are doing. But what if the garage down the road was just guessing at their marketing and you were to copy them?

Then there’s being drawn to the latest ‘shiny’ object. A media rep calls from an online technology company that promises your business will be in front of a gazillion customers visiting their website every day.

The media rep tells you that this is what you should be doing because everybody’s doing it and you’re going to miss out. The rep then goes on to say ‘you’re not still using old-fashioned methods of marketing are you?’ It’s enough to make your head explode.

When you first set up in business, nobody ever told you that you had to be a marketer as well. But marketing isn’t difficult, that is when you know how. If you can fix cars, you can certainly embrace a few concepts that will improve your marketing.

CHANGE YOUR THINKING
The problem is that many just don’t take marketing seriously enough to turn it into a business process. The first thing to do is to see marketing as part of the process of running your business, like you would with doing the accounts or any other admin’ system or procedures you might have in place.

Realise that marketing is something that requires investment, but that it’s also a process that will provide a return on investment. A problem that many have is they try to do marketing that is free or cheap,
which sadly ends up being ineffective for that very reason.

Marketing and sales are as important as the work you do. The main difference to any other business procedures is that your marketing process is what will bring customers to your door, pay the wages and overheads and hopefully make you a profit.

marketing

CLEAR ON YOUR MARKET
Who are your best customers? What is your best type of work? Determining your ‘target market’ can be a very technical subject, but these two basic questions are a great place to start. Taking a step back to consider these could provide the impetus for change in your business. Once you know the type of customers you want more of, you will be able to devise promotions that ‘talk their language’, promote the things that will resonate with them, and turn up in the right places to get you noticed.

YOUR MARKETING MESSAGE
Again, this is a subject that could fill a book or two and indeed has. But what you say to your customers is important. Too many rely on advertising that just contains a logo and a list what they do – which is actually
probably no different to the business down the road. Put yourself in the position of the customer; who should they choose when both garages appear to offer the same services? The cheapest?

Your ideal customers are likely to be those that have values above what you actually do. They see a value in your training, your honesty, the fact you are involved in community projects. How can you make yourself different from your competitors? These things do help customers make a discerning decision. So, going back to your ideal customer, what is it that appeals to them?

MEDIA – DELIVERING YOUR MESSAGE TO YOUR MARKET
Do you start a Facebook Page? is Social Media what you should concentrate on? Let’s get one thing straight from the outset – when it comes to marketing, no one method should be utilised at the expense of others. And as far as Social Media is concerned, it won’t necessarily be the one thing that is going to bear the sort of fruit you require very quickly; certainly not on its own. Use Social Media, but in a measured way.

By spending a bit of time considering your market, your message and your media, you will be able to put together much more effective marketing; there will be more of a method and strategy behind it – it may not be perfect straight away, but it can be refined as you move forward.

ARE YOU COMMITTED?
The last part of the equation is commitment. Marketing is not something that should be seen as free or cheap, or indeed something that is done only once. It is a continual process. Your final thing to do is to set up a marketing calendar then stick to it, measure it, refine it and repeat it.

motorrepairmarketing.com

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NEW PHONES BUZZING IN WORTHING


Steve Reeves shows us around a South Coast factor that has received an upgrade

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-29-01-2

Today is a busy day at CPA Worthing, though to be fair it is always busy at the original branch of the twelve-strong chain.

However, the extra rucus today is caused by the installation of a new IP-based phone system. As we arrive, Nick Fulford from the Parts Alliance’s IT team is busy testing connections and setting up screens, which when up and running, will display info on ring time, missed calls etcetera.

CPA Worthing was originally setup by Nick Best and Keith Anderson. A number of other names familiar to the aftermarket also joined the company in due course, including Operations Manager John Austin who remains with the company to this day. However, it is General Manager Steve Reeves who we are meeting today.

SYSTEM
“We’ve got a great system going in, backed up with mobiles so we are not going to miss any calls” said Reeves, indicating to Fulford who has his hands full testing several new handsets. “We’ve accepted it with open arms” he said, adding that as one of the larger branches in the Parts Alliance network.

The original name of the business is Car Parts and Accessories, so it should perhaps come as no surprise that the customer area resembles a traditional accessory shop, albeit one inside an industrial unit. Around half of the room is taken up with an L-shaped CPA team on new phones counter that on our visit had five staff members variously serving walk-in customers and picking up the soon-to-be- replaced phones.

CPA team on new phones

CPA team on new phones

“The way and the speed that you pick up the phone is important” stresses Reeves. Telephone policy is something that is strictly enforced at CPA as it remains the main way that customers form their impression of a business. “The garages want to know that they are dealing with people they can trust – with my guys they can” he adds.

The main stockroom is large – although no-one is quite sure exactly how big. What we do know is that it boasts a large mezzanine for the slower moving items and has a room used for meetings and as an office.

EXHAUSTS
Down in the main stock area, we notice a large amount of floor space was dedicated to exhausts. “Exhausts will become a shrinking market” asserts Reeves. “With the the exhausts you’ll find that some parts don’t move for three, four or even five years. It’s ugly as well. There may be a plan to shrink some of our exhaust stock as there are specialist centres. If Joe Public wants a rear box, we can obtain one of those on the same day from a supplier. Long have gone the days when a third of a building this size would be exhausts. You’re hanging up fresh air and I want the space for other products”.

As with any branch in this buying group’s network, there are all the brands you might expect: Delphi, Denso, NGK and so on. We also noticed some Yuasa batteries stocked alongside the group’s usual range of Banner products as well as Comma Oil held in various grades and quantities. A team of three people picks the stock, with seven vans running in and around the surrounding area. There is also an inter-branch ‘tea van’ to keep stock balanced across CPA. “Getting stock to customers quickly is like a hot pizza because delivering a cold one is not going to be any good” he concludes.

With a focused team and the new business systems to help keep the business on track, we are sure that CPA will be delivering ‘hot pizzas’ for many years to come.

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    • Given rising costs, do you think the number of van runs from factor branches will decrease?

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