Category Archives: Guest Posts

Don’t blow a gasket over the annual MOT test

For many drivers the annual M.O.T test is enough to send even the most seasoned of drivers into a state of deep shock. The uncertainty of will it, won’t it pass? And for diesel drivers, it just got a lot more complicated.

529799_2774260933660_1793632096_n

In December last year the UK government announced that Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) will form part of the MOT test from February 2014. Tests for diesel cars and lorries have been tightened up to ensure vehicles have a critical exhaust filter if one had originally been fitted as standard.

Garages and testing stations are now required to check for a diesel particulate filter (DPF) in the inspection of the exhaust system as part of the MOT test. Your vehicle will automatically fail the MOT test if the filter had been fitted as standard but is found to be no longer present. You may have had the DPF removed in the past following claims that it will improve the economy, but it is an offence to drive a vehicle that has been modified this way, as it will no longer meet the emissions standards the car achieved when it was approved for sale in the UK.

A DPF works by trapping solid particulate matter from exhaust gases. This type of filter has been in use for more than 20 years and helps meet European emission standards, improving air quality and health standards.

It’s just one more thing for drivers of diesel vehicles to consider when preparing their car for an MOT test. With so much to think about, how do you prepare your car for an MOT to give it the greatest chance of passing?

We spoke to Trust My Garage member Falcon Motors in Warwick about M.O.T testing and asked if there was anything vehicle owners could do at home prior to their M.O.T test. Garage owner Roy Wall, who has over 20 years’ experience in the motor trade, had this advice to give.

“We get a lot of drivers coming to us who are worried about their M.O.T test, but they don’t need to be. Not many people understand the test and it’s the unknown which causes fear amongst drivers. What many people don’t know is there are actually a few things that drivers can check themselves (or with the help of a friend) before they bring their vehicle to us for an MOT. Checking vital parts regularly may increase the chances of passing your M.O.T.

1512597_3700557130486_34569765_n

Lights

Start your engine and get a friend to check the outside of your vehicle. Are all your lights working? Including the one that lights your number plate? Remember also to check the reservoir of your windscreen wipers to ensure fluid levels are correct and not empty.

Number plate

Did you know an illegible number plate could cause you to fail your M.O.T test? Make sure this doesn’t happen to you and give your number plate a quick clean. If its illegible, it’s illegal.

Wipers

You will fail an MOT if you do not clear your windscreen, so make sure you wash it before hand. Chips need to be repaired and if cracks are apparent, you may need to replace the entire windscreen.

Horn

Make sure your horn sounds when pressed.

Brake fluid and Oil

Like with windscreen washer fluid, make sure the oil and brake fluid are regularly checked and topped up to the correct level.

Tyres

Make sure the pressure of your tyres is correct to the manufacturer’s handbook and that the tread of each tyre is at least 1.6mm

“You should also check to ensure there are no visible signs of corrosion, all mirrors are intact and the vehicle’s seatbelts operate correctly. While the above tests are outlined in regard to the M.O.T test, it is recommended, and good driving practice, to check your vehicle frequently and ensure it is regularly serviced.”

And finally, you should also ensure you book your test with a registered test centre or a trusted garage (look for the blue logo with white triangles which details centres approved to carry out M.O.Ts).

Regular servicing and frequent maintenance checks are always the best chance you can give your vehicle of passing its MOT. Make sure you find a garage you can trust by entering your postcode into our website.

18221_2563173896616_462960817_n

5 things younger drivers can learn from older generations

Whether or not you believe that things were better in ‘the good old days’, it’s widely accepted that older generations had more of a hands-on approach to managing their vehicles. What would happen if we were to create a hypothetical time-travelling car quiz, and put an average modern day 25-year-old up against an average 25-year-old from 1973?  The chances for the modern day driver winning are slim.

Life expectancy is constantly rising in the UK and that means that there are far more older drivers on the road than ever before. Over the past twenty years there has been a 72 per cent increase in the number of 70+ license holders. In 20 years, one in ten people will be over 80 and the number of people over the age of 100 will increase by 475 per cent! That’ll be a lot of telegrams…

The perception of older drivers is often a negative one, with claims that they’re no longer safe to be on the road. However, statistics disprove that, with recent figures stating that older drivers are involved in fewer accidents than drivers under 60. And, whilst over 70s make up nine per cent of drivers they only make up six per cent of driver casualties. Under 30s, on the other hand, make up 20 per cent of drivers but 35 per cent of casualties.

Rae Ellis is Business Development Administrator and PA to the Managing Director at Motor Marque, an independent garage and Trust My Garage member that’s been operating in Leeds for 16 years. She explains how and why younger people have a different attitude towards their vehicles, and how they can learn from older drivers.

Rae Ellis

1.  Basic car knowledge

There’s no denying that cars today are considerably more complicated than they used to be, so people are less able to do things themselves. Young people also have less inclination to learn about their cars; this might be because they don’t have the time or that they simply don’t feel they need to because professionals exist who can do this for them. When a younger person gets home from college or work, they’ve got a whole wealth of distractions at their disposal, from video games to social media. These distractions simply didn’t exist in the past, meaning people could devote more time to productive tasks, including learning about their vehicle.

Breakdowns happen all year round and many of these are unavoidable – but some could have been avoided if a motorist simply read their vehicle handbook. How many of us have actually read through ours properly?

There is no excuse. These days, there’s more information available to motorists about car maintenance. On YouTube you can find videos of mechanics or technicians showing you how to do quite complex jobs – you can even find Trust My Garage’s self help vehicle maintenance videos! That doesn’t mean you should do every bit of maintenance yourself though, because a lot of tasks will require the skills and knowledge of a garage technician.

Some garages, like us, offer training courses. Our own are usually targeted at women and we help them learn about basic car knowledge; how to check oil, tyres, topping up screen wash etc. We do this with the view to being able to make people feel more confident in checking those things. It’s all part of the service we offer.

motormarque-car-garage-leeds

2. Checking certain parts of the car and regular car servicing

My gran’s friend gives her a lift to church every week and he checks the oil and screen wash levels as well as the tyre tread and pressure. In the long run, you save money by constantly checking these things. If you make sure your tyre pressures are always right then you’re not replacing a tyre because it’s worn out on the edges due to under-inflation. It might mean a small time investment every fortnight or so, but in the long run there is a cost saving attached to that, just like getting your car serviced regularly. If you get your car serviced regularly it might cost in the short term but in the long term it will cost you significantly less because you’ll be preventing damage and incurring expensive repair costs.

My gran’s friend will have his MOT and service every year and they’re probably the only times he actually has to go into the garage. Whilst the need for regular servicing can’t be stressed enough, there are a number of things motorists can do themselves to keep their car running smoothly.

It’s probably an attitude thing because I think that older generations perhaps have been less used to having those facilities available and for someone else to do it. In today’s world if there’s anything you want or need you can easily find someone who can do it. Perhaps before there weren’t as many of those services available, or maybe they weren’t as affordable to everybody as they are now.

3.  Driving styles

Cars are now faster and smoother, meaning you can think you’re doing 30mph but you look down and you’re actually going a lot faster. Cars are more of a status symbol these days; whereas for the older generations simply having a car would have been a huge status symbol itself. Now, it’s not about whether you have a car, it’s all to do with what car it is, how new it is and often most importantly, how fast it goes. This doesn’t apply for everyone, but for many young people it does. It’s something that’s definitely been fuelled by the media; you just have to look at some of the films and programmes that seem to advocate driving at ridiculous speeds.

Motor Marque logo

4.  Tolerance of other drivers

There are a lot more cars on the road these days, so statistically incidents of road rage and accidents will have increased naturally. However, there’s far more technology in cars these days and that means there are more distractions. You’ve got in-built Sat Nav, MP3, DAB radio and you can even watch movies or television (though you should never do this while actually driving – leave it to the passengers!) However, even passenger TV viewing can have a detrimental effect on people’s driving, as distractions can easily lead to mistakes, accidents and vehicle damage.

If you’re retired you don’t have to be somewhere in such a rush, you’ve got a bit more time to plan things and perhaps you’re a bit more sedimentary in your life anyway. If you’re young and you think you’re invincible then you may be more inclined to drive too fast and be less tolerant of other drivers.

5.  Preparation

People have less inclination to be well prepared these days. Most modern cars don’t come with a spare tyre anymore, and whilst many of them come with a tyre canister, there’ll be a lot of people who probably don’t know that they’ve got it, let alone how to use it. People might not even be aware that they don’t have a spare tyre until they get a puncture.

It’s important to prepare your car in case of an emergency, and that means having blankets, water, boots, Hi-Vis vest and warning triangle. In a lot of countries it’s compulsory to have these things; we’re quite rare in this country that it’s not. Trust My Garage recently explained what you should have in your vehicle in the event of a breakdown and there are some really great ideas in that blog post.

To find your local independent garage visit the Trust My Garage website and insert your postcode into our garage finder. 

Five innovations in independent garages and how they benefit you

You might have noticed how independent garages have changed over the years. Gone are the days when your local garage was an oily institution with overalls strewn all over the place and trashy pictures on the walls. Independent garages of the 21st century are efficient businesses constantly striving to give their customers the very best experience and value.

Milton Keynes’ Quality Car Service  is a Trust My Garage member that has been operating as a family-run business for five years. The advances that Quality Car Service has made in that time are truly impressive, with a real strategic approach to the day-to-day running of the garage, ensuring they’re capable of dealing with any job, no matter how difficult it may be, and leaving their customers satisfied.

Owner Chris Gurney runs through the top five things that Quality Car Service, and many other independent garages, are doing and how they benefit you, the consumer.

Chris Gurney_Quality Car Service_headshot

1.        Web design

This enables us to be very reactive with online web offers etc. We also run our own online advertising campaign via Google AdWords and we measure the results, meaning we can be instantly reactive to online pricing and offers as we can tweak them and see immediate results. We record how each customer found out about us, whether it’s from a recommendation, repeat business, Google or Facebook and we can also see the return on investment for each of these areas of marketing. Our web designer also keeps Facebook and Twitter up to date, and we send out emails requesting feedback on the service they have received. We really do listen and take on board the feedback we receive, using it to improve our own services and quality of work. We employed our own full time web designer 14 months ago, however this role has evolved into an Online Marketer, a must for every independent garage.

QCS

2.        Staff harmony

We have a morning meeting with all our staff where we address issues, share information on technical jobs from the day before, keep everyone updated on industry news and measure each person’s performance. We talk to our staff on a daily basis and ensure they are happy at work and take interest in their lives away from work. Each year we set the technicians standards and they have to attend a minimum of three training courses a year and all free training seminars that are available. If our staff are happy then that is definitely passed onto the customers – if you come in for a servicing and everyone looks fed up and miserable then the likelihood is you’re not going to come back!

3.        Staff training and incentives

Industry qualifications take priority and every technician has a minimum of NVQ2. We also give them the option of achieving NVQ3 which is paid for by the company and we align the pay accordingly to help drive them to achieve the qualification. We also let our staff choose which training courses interest them, whether it be electrical, diesel or manufacturer training. If you bring your car in then of course you want our mechanics to be as knowledgeable and qualified as possible. We understand that these days people simply don’t have time to know their cars inside out, that’s our job.

4.        The focus on customer service

There’s a lot to be said for a family run business and we are very hands on. We treat our customers how we would want to be treated in a garage and this attitude is infectious. Our staff have a real desire to look after our customers and they take complete ownership of this from the moment a customer enters the garage, throughout the day with regular contact and at the end of the day when it’s time to run through the work carried out and hand the vehicle back to the customer. Our full-time valetor takes real pride in his job – he knows how many service washes he has in a day and when he can he will upgrade the service wash to include a body wax. It’s a nice touch to show customers we really care. We review the percentage of repeat customers we see on a monthly basis and we strive constantly to grow this. If the figure goes backwards then we find out exactly why and react.

5.        Constantly updating hardware and diagnostics

We’ve all heard the story of the garage owner that had to close down due to not investing in equipment and it’s very true that you must invest constantly into the latest tooling and diagnostic equipment. If you cannot diagnose a car because you do not have the correct on-board diagnostics reader then you lose the customer. If you’re not prepared to invest in a tyre pressure monitoring system then don’t bother selling and fitting tyres. Ultimately if you cannot diagnose a fault you will lose the customer. Our staff and customers recognise the investment we make and this keeps them loyal to us.

It’s not only the workshop that needs investment and we are currently looking at working with a company to develop a fully automated electronic point of sale system (EPOS) that is being developed for the garage industry. The EPOS is the digital system used in retail establishments.  This is cutting edge and it’s what we, and other garage owners, have been looking for for a number of years. Watch this space, it’s going to transform the front end service and customers’ perception of the industry.

Five reasons to support your local independent garage on Small Business Saturday

As Small Business Saturday arrives in the UK for the first time, the importance of consumers supporting independent businesses in the UK is rightly being stressed. Ask most shoppers what they consider a small independent business to be and they’ll likely say a retail outlet such as a local hairdresser or a convenience store. We’re urging you to consider the fact that independent garages are small businesses themselves, and should be supported on Small Business Saturday. Additionally, as small businesses help each other, we’re asking how many independent businesses have considered using independent garages for their vehicle servicing needs.

Small Business Saturday was originally set up in America three years ago in order to help small businesses fight off competition from bigger rivals. It was a huge success, boosting the turnover of small businesses in the US by £3.5 billion. Shadow Business Secretary, Labour MP Chuka Umunna, has brought the event to the UK calendar, and it has since gained widespread support. We’re highlighting the part that independent garage businesses play on Small Business Saturday and beyond.

QCSOur member Quality Car Service is a family-run business that’s been based in Milton Keynes for five years. They see themselves as an efficient small to medium enterprise, and run themselves accordingly. They work hard as a small business to retain their skilled staff and regularly review their business processes and HR policy, just like any other independent business. They also regularly review their business plan so that they stay competitive. This is a vital element of running an independent garage, especially in the current climate.

To celebrate the role of the small independent garage on Small Business Saturday, here are Quality Car Service’s top five reasons to choose a local independent garage.

5.      Investment in the local economy

Small businesses are so crucial to the UK economy – that simply cannot be overstated. Of the 4.9 million businesses in the UK, 99.2 percent of them were small businesses at the start of 2013. Additionally, research has shown that for every £10 spent in the local community, an extra £25 is reinvested. Perhaps the most telling fact though is that independent businesses are the biggest generators of jobs, which is poignant considering unemployment levels in the UK today. The message is clear – if small businesses fail then the unemployment levels would skyrocket. Help support your local community by spending in it – if you do then your money will likely be recycled back into the local economy.

4.      Reputable network

We’re a Trust My Garage member, and in order to be a member you’ve got to prove you work to a high standard. So when you see that we’re affiliated with Trust My Garage, you instantly know we have achieved certain quality goals. Always look out for the Trust My Garage shield logo- if you see it then you know that you’re really going to be able to trust that independent garage. There are many networks available that independent small businesses can join but its those that are based on quality of service that are the most reliable.

Chris Gurney_Quality Car Service_headshot3. Better value for money

Often independent small businesses are more cost effective than larger brands. The Independent Garage Association recently polled over 2,000 of its members on their labour rates and results concluded that independent garages ‘continue to offer motorists the very best value for money.’ Figures from the poll show that the average labour cost is slightly over £40 for independent garages, and the most recent Warranty Direct annual Labour Rates survey demonstrates that average labour rates for main dealer garages stands at a national average of £95.94. These averages mean that in some areas the difference between the cheapest independent garage and the most expensive main dealer is quite staggering.

2.      Access to technical information and quality parts

Many independent businesses offer just as high a quality service as businesses that are part of a wider chain, if not even higher. The same is true for independent garages. We have access to the same level of technical information and quality parts as main dealers. The training that we give to our staff is no different to the training mechanics at dealerships receive. We constantly keep all of our equipment and diagnostic software up-to-date to ensure that there’s no job we can’t do. If we have to outsource a job then we’ve failed and lost business, so we strive to be able to handle any request. For each job we undertake we ensure that each member of staff is fed the necessary information so that if it’s particularly taxing we’re then able to learn from it.

1.      Better customer service

Independent businesses, like ourselves, rely heavily on customer retention, and the only way we can ensure we keep getting customers back through our doors is by offering them great service – that means keeping them updated at all times, giving them information they know they can trust, and making them feel as comfortable as possible. We pride ourselves on our friendly approach and the rapport we create with our customers. Often businesses that are part of wider brands don’t have to put this emphasis on a personal service because they know they will receive business based on the reputation of the brand or chain they belong to. Because we are independent, we can provide customer service the way we want to – the way we would want to be treated as customers ourselves – and this ensures a personal and efficient service every time.

To find your local independent garage business on Small Business Saturday, visit the Trust My Garage website and insert your postcode into our garage finder.

Why the MOT debate isn’t about price, but regular servicing

You will probably have seen our recent blog post explaining why the cheapest MOT isn’t always the best. It’s a popular consumer issue at the moment and many motorists are looking for the best deal, unaware that they might not always be getting the best service. There are 20,000 MOT stations in the UK and 18,000 of those are at independent garages. So we turned to one of our members and asked them where they stand on the popular topic of MOTs.

CavalieroutsideAll independent garages can give a qualified opinion on the MOT but Cavalier Garage, in Manchester has been carrying out high quality MOTs for over twenty years so their views are based on considerable experience and are worth listening to. Owner Rob Harris is a qualified MOT tester and has two other MOT testers on his team. He explains what he had to do to in order to operate a garage business that was qualified and trusted to perform the MOT test.

Becoming certified for MOT testing is quite a rigorous process. You have to apply in principle to VOSA with in-depth plans of your workshop, indicating where your testing bay will be and the facilities you have available for it. Then an enforcement officer comes out and has a look at your workshop. If they are happy that you have the facilities for MOT testing then they will accept your application in principle. It’s then up to you to install the necessary high quality equipment for MOT testing in the workshop.

After that you have to ensure that you have staff who are authorised MOT testers. They need the training and the certificates to achieve this and you have to send them for re-training regularly to ensure they are always up-to-date in their skillset. You also need someone in charge of quality control and administration. Then, VOSA need to approve your MOT testing bay and your MOT testers and you are told to audit your MOT testers’ quality every two months. It’s a long process that is on-going and it’s a big investment.”

We mentioned before that a garage providing an MOT needs to cover the costs associated with providing it and therefore often can’t afford to offer MOTs at an unrealistic or headline-grabbing price. This does mean, though, that when you have an MOT performed at one of our member garage you receive a proper job, and will be charged fairly only for parts that need to be replaced.

For Cavalier Garages, price is not so much an issue as the fact that motorists need to treat the MOT as a test of their vehicle’s road safety and environmental standards. It’s not the same as having a vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.

Cavalier1Rob explains: “An MOT and a service are two entirely different things. When was the last time you saw someone pull up on the hard shoulder of a motorway with breakdown and they are baffled as to how it happened because their car passed its MOT the day before? It’s not because it was missed in the MOT but because how well the car runs is not part of a standard MOT test (other than testing for emissions).

“It’s common sense. A car is such a big investment so why wouldn’t you want to have it serviced regularly to ensure it was always performing safely and correctly? It makes a lot more sense than relying on an annual MOT to tell you if there’s something wrong with your car, when the MOT test is not designed to do that.

We are always telling motorists that there are some checks they can carry out on their car themselves, in between their regular services, to ensure that their car remains safe on the road. Remembering the acronym WARM and checking your “Wipers, Anti-freeze, tyres (Rubber) and having regular Maintenance in winter can keep your car safe in potentially dangerous conditions. We always recommend you frequently check your petrol, oil and lights too. Regular checks will help keep your car in top condition, but there is absolutely no alternative to regular servicing, certainly not the annual MOT test!”

If you live in Stretford, Manchester, make sure you visit Cavalier Garages for regular servicing. If you don’t live in Stretford but want to find a garage you can trust, enter your postcode in our postcode finder and we will pinpoint your nearest Trust My Garage member. Don’t forget you can now leave feedback on our website too!

In our garages, everyone is treated like a celebrity

Every independent garage that signs up to our scheme pledges to give you the very best customer service.

We have almost 2,000 members now, and they all take pride in ensuring you go home happy; whether you visit them to get your vehicle serviced, repaired, or for an MOT.

Ridgeway1And there is no finer example of this than what the team at Ridgeway Garage, in Enfield, are doing. They have recently joined Trust My Garage, reflecting the fact that they have been providing excellent customer service for almost 40 years. The garage even lists celebrities such as actresses Michelle Ryan and Linda Lusardi, cricketer Phil Tufnell, comedian Ed Ray and footballers Ray Clemence and Paul Furlong amongst its growing clientele.

The owner of Ridgeway Garage, Gary Needham, said that providing fantastic customer service was ingrained in him from an early age. “I pride myself in treating all of my customers the way I would want to be treated,” he said. “My team and I open doors for them, stand up when they come in and when speaking to them and not only will we offer to pick up their cars from their house for free, we will also give them lifts home – and sometimes even to the shops! We don’t fleece, or rip off, any of our customers.

This is the philosophy of every one of our member garages. This is enshrined in our Customer Charter, which is our commitment to providing you with the highest level of customer satisfaction.

This means that we will:

1)      Provide you with a fixed quote or an estimate, both inclusive of parts, labour and VAT

2)      Only charge you for work completed and parts supplied and fitted

3)      Follow your vehicle’s service schedule

4)      Work to high standards and continue to achieve the key industry standards set by the RMI

5)      Explain things clearly and treat you and your vehicle with respect

6)      Use up-to-date technical information, techniques and tooling

7)      Comply with the RMI ‘Code of Practice for Service & Repair’

Ridgeway2Ridgeway Garage is showing that TMG members treat everyone as a celebrity when they walk through their doors.

It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you are a high-flying celebrity or the man on the Clapham omnibus, you will all be treated to the same highest standards.

Gary added: “We pride ourselves on our ability to treat everyone the same and with the courtesy they deserve.  Whether our customers are having a tyre pumped up with air and we don’t charge them, or if they are having an engine fitted to their car – it doesn’t matter to how they are treated. That is something that is instilled in all of the staff here.”

Gary said that some of his celebrity clients have given him signed photographs of themselves, which he proudly displays in the garage’s reception area.

We are constantly getting comments and open-mouthed looks as the customers look at them for the first time,” he said. “We are delighted to be members of TMG because we believe in the good old-fashioned values of honesty, trustworthiness and getting satisfaction from helping people.”

Do you know where your nearest Trust My Garage is? If not, don’t waste another second and type in your postcode in our garage finder to find quality service you just can’t beat.

Trust My Garage member is Independent Garage of the Year!

We are always doing our best to showcase the quality and expertise offered by independent garages throughout the country. In fact, Trust My Garage was set up for this very reason – to show motorists that they don’t have to pay main dealer fees for a professional and honest service – but that an even greater service is available at their nearest independent garage.

There is no better proof of this than our Cornish member Powell’s Garage, which has  picked up a prestigious national award after being named the Independent Garage of the Year.

Powell’s Garage beat off fierce competition to be recognised as the leading independent garage in the country by Motor Trader magazine, in its annual industry awards.

A panel of judges recognised the professional and honest service provided every day by Powell’s  Garage,  rounding off an exciting year for the business after it recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Powell's Garage

But what sets Powell’s Garage apart from other independent garages?

Heather Powell, Joint Managing Director of Powell’s Garage, told us her aim is to always provide the highest level of customer service.

“The whole ethos within the business is all about giving the customer the best possible experience when they have any dealings with us,” she said.

“We are totally honest with our customers and they respect and appreciate that.

“We have a relationship with so many of our customers that is relaxed and pleasant, like old friends.”

Heather added: “We genuinely think about the customer experience first and profitability second.

“We look at things on a long term basis – if we look after the customer then we hope that they will stay loyal to us and recommend us to their friends and family.”

This is the second time Powell’s Garage has won this award, and highlights its commitment in providing the best possible service to vehicle owners.

Its client base runs into its thousands, including ordinary car owners to different fleet companies, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s delivery vehicles.

Powells_insideAnd not only does the garage have two MOT test bays, it also has a ‘Fast Fit’ department, with huge stocks of competitively priced tyres and facilities for testing cars, vans and motorhomes.

“Our aim is to stay ahead of the game,” said Heather. “We always look to have the best possible premises and therefore customer service.

“We want the most up to date equipment throughout the whole business, not just in the workshop.

She added: “We focus on the little things. Not just the big things. Attention to detail is important.”

Powell’s Garage prides itself on the outstanding customer service it provides. So, we asked Heather for her three top tips for customer service which demonstrate the quality of attention you can receive when you take your car to a Trust My Garage member.,

1)      Listen carefully to your customer and act on their wishes, not your own

2)      Make things as easy and stress free for your customer as possible

3)      Put yourself in their shoes, what would you think?

With a philosophy like this and such attention on the customer, it is no wonder that Powell’s Garage has once again been named the best independent garage in the country.

Do you want to know where your nearest trusted independent garage is? Simply type your postcode in our garage finder and benefit from the same kind of service offered by Powell’s Garage – near you!

We are doing our bit to help women get to grips with their cars

Are you a female driver? Are you carrying out basic maintenance checks on your car? A recent survey that we conducted found a staggering 67% of female drivers do not do something as simple as check their brake fluid levels and just under half don’t check their oil levels as often as they should.

One of our members in Ashton is doing its bit to help women better understand their vehicles, and is offering vital training to female drivers, demonstrating how to carry out basic car maintenance checks.

GuideBridge MOT & Service Centre has been a TRUST MY GARAGE member since we launched the independent scheme. A family-run garage, it has earned a reputation as the most ‘female friendly garage in Ashton,’ thanks to the extra care and considered approach it takes towards making female drivers feel at home when they take their vehicle in for a service, repair or MOT.

Jan Lord, Business Development Manager at GuideBridge tells us more…..

JAN_Guidebridge

Guide Bridge MOT & Service Centre is managed by three ladies who each have a different role to play. We are all drivers ourselves so we understand the issues that female drivers face. I work behind the scenes on marketing and Fleet Management, Nicola is our Garage Manager, and we also have our receptionist, Lauren.  

A large proportion of our customers are women; there is around a 70:30 split and I think this is because we have female faces in the garage which makes female drivers feel more at ease when entering a garage environment.

As women, we understand that it can be bewildering when it comes to car maintenance and repairs. This is exactly why we have developed a process of educating and supporting female motorists in our area – to make them feel relaxed and confident with their own cars.trust my garage 26

We hold regular workshops for women to teach them the basics about car maintenance. It’s hugely popular and we have helped women from all walks of life. We’ve had women from 17 years-old all the way to 79 years-old, and a group of women from the Women’s Institute also attend regularly. We encourage the female drivers who join our course to imagine what it would be like when faced with a real life breakdown and teach them how to react in these situations. We had one lady attend once in a tight short skirt and stiletto heels. Why? Because this is what she would likely be wearing in the event of a breakdown as she uses her car to travel to social events!

We usually teach around three ladies at a time, and advise them to come in with their own cars so that we can go over everything that they need to know to keep their cars in good condition. This includes; what certain buttons do on their dashboard, why there are different lights on a dashboard, how to change wheels and windscreen blades, and checking all fluids. They always go away feeling more confident should they ever experience a break down because they have learned how to act in these situations.

Because of our considered and educational approach to female drivers, more of our female customers are pro-active in addressing any initial problems with their cars, which is saving them money in the long term. They only visit us when they are due a regular service, need a repair or for their MOT. I think women tend to worry about situations where something goes wrong, out of their control, which is why a proper education is essential. We are providing this education to give them peace of mind on the road.”

About GuideBridge MOT & Service CentreGuidebridge

GuideBridge is a family-run business providing MOTs, car servicing, and vehicle repairs in Tameside, for both private motorists and fleet operators. It was established in 2003, and is lead by Derek Lord who has over 40 years experience in the motor trade.

As a proud TRUST MY GARAGE member, GuideBridge will be attending the annual Greater Manchester Business Expo on 16th July at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate. If you are attending, pop along to see them – they will be handing out goody bags to visitors of the stand and helping to educate garages and motorists about the great work we are doing at TRUST MY GARAGE.

guidebridge logo

“Mechanics, it’s only nuts and bolts!”

We’re always chatting to our members about what’s going on in their area and thought we would share some of their quirky anecdotes with you as well. We will be inviting garages to make guest posts on our blog so you can really start to relate with the Trust My Garage community, reinforcing the message of ‘trust’ from all of our members.

Chris Gurney_Quality Car Service_headshot

By Chris Gurney, owner of Quality Car Service   

A customer recently said to me “Mechanics, it’s only nuts and bolts”, I politely smiled and quickly moved on however it left me thinking “If only!”. I partly agree, the routine day-to-day servicing is relatively straight forward, although every make and model of car has its challenges; such as pollen filters that require half the dashboard to be removed, service lights that require a £3,000 service reset tool to turn the light off the dashboard (we’ve purchased them all), electronic handbrake controls that require programming with laptops, and firmware updates to the various ECU’s around the car (computer’s to you and me) and so on.

Statement retracted, there is nothing routine to the day-to-day servicing of a car, and it’s definitely not only nuts and bolts!

… One of my goals in 2012 was to ensure our garage was totally up-to-date with diagnostic equipment and tools to ensure we could service and repair all makes and models – job done!

This year (2013) we made a commitment to focus on training, we set a goal to give our technicians the opportunity to get right up-to-speed on all the latest technology being fitted to the modern car such as:nuts and bolts

  • DPF’s (very expensive precious metal filters within the exhaust pipe reaching temperatures of over 700 degrees, designed to catch soot to reduce our carbon foot print)
  • EGR Valves (recycling the exhaust fumes back into the engine, again to help reduce the carbon footprint)
  • Variable Geometry Turbo chargers (a device used to give an engine more power and increased fuel efficiency)

…and on it goes. So far this year we have covered five courses, we have one technician who has just completed his NVQ 2 (3 year course), we have three staff members completing NVQ 3 (additional 1 year training) and we are now looking into future car technology, these are cars being designed and built to cover Euro 6 Emissions standards.

To summarise, gone are the days of servicing a car yourself, gone are the days of checking your oil on a dipstick – dipsticks are a thing of the past, (electronic oil level sensor more like), gone are the days of entrusting the road side mechanic to check your car and gone are the days of servicing a car without a laptop with the correct software and operated by a fully trained and qualified technician!

Next time I’m told “It’s only nuts and bolts”, well we’ll see!!

quality car service

Quality Car Service is a Trust My Garage member based in Milton Keynes and offers MOTs, Servicing, and diagnostics.  The garage has been running for 5 years and carry out thousands of MOT’s a year. They pride themselves on the high quality services they provide their customers with and are always striving to improve their processes.

Quality Car Service_logoFacebook-logo-ICON-02