CAT Retail Lives: Motorway Belts


MotorwayBelts_Outside2Alan Herring and Darren Leppard tell CAT about Motorway Belt’s history and why customer service and A1 Motor Stores are key to its success.

Motorway Belts in Hemel Hempstead is at the heart of its community. Its biggest selling point is its staff and the service it provides which has kept people coming back for more.

Joint Owner Alan Herring, who has been with Motorway Belts for more than 37 years, explains how the business started life as a static seatbelt manufacturer.

“When I started here we had reels of black webbing which they used in seatbelts in boxes plus all of the spring clips, the fittings and the metal brackets,” Herring says.

The business changed its focus to car parts and accessories as the market did which lead to it increasing its presence in Hemel Hempstead.

At one point Motorway Belts had three stores open, with the current branch focusing on hard parts, one on accessories and another branch in Grove Hill selling a mixture of the two.

The business has now been consolidated down to one unit, but providing exemplary service is still key to their strategy.

Herring says: “Sometimes a customer will come in and say have you got such and such? And we will ask what job are you doing? That way we can give them good solutions.

“We are also very fortunate that we have been here for a long time, and we have a good customer base. I am serving dads now who originally came here as boys, and who are bringing their children in. I am serving mums now who used to come here and make the coffee for us. It is that kind of history that we have got locally.”

MotorwayBelts_Staff2Fellow Joint Owner Darren Leppard explains how training and product knowledge has kept them on the ball, and has enabled them to target their customers better.

Motorway Belts has a pile of batteries by the door simply to catch the customers’ attention and this tactic has seen motorists return to buy a battery. It has been so successful that both RAC and the AA use the store if they need a battery.

Another method it is constantly reviewing is making the store as female-friendly as possible.

“I want it to be nice and bright like Tesco. Aisles down the side fully stocked and a counter they can see straight away.”

This refreshing outlook on their business has stood Motorway Belts in good stead, but both Herring and Leppard are also quick to point out the support of A1 Motor Stores has been vital to its survival.

Herring added: “A1 Motor Stores without a doubt is the saviour of a lot of independent companies, because we are able to purchase quality product at a competitive price. We are using the warehouse that A1 has all of the time.

“In fact we were one of the founder members of A1 Motor Stores. Dave and Chris Long who had the business at the time were instrumental with others, in pushing it to where it is, and we have more than 30 years plus under the group now.”

Leppard added A1 is helping Motorway Belts move into the digital age as it looks to launch its first online store.

The hope is to link up the website and e-shop, social media and the business’ exemplary knowledge and service together to give it a boost for the future.

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