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.
Our 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.
3. 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.
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.
And 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’
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.
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- There’s one of us near you – wherever you are in the UK! (trustmygarage.wordpress.com)
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.
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.
And 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!
Recently, responsibility for the government’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme has been transferred to Trading Standards Institute from the Office of Fair Trading and this means an even greater focus on the needs of the consumer.
As TRUST MY GARAGE has always demonstrated high standards in the independent service and repair sector we have now submitted an application for TRUST MY GARAGE to be an approved code.
What does this mean for you?
1. We guarantee you’re not getting scammed
In a recent survey conducted by the AA, 22% of motorists believed that items had been fitted or replaced unnecessarily during a car service. By visiting a TRUST MY GARAGE member you eliminate any chance of this scenario ever happening to you. We will be working with Trading Standards to drive out any independent garages that do not comply with the high standards we set. This way you can be sure that garages who display the TRUST MY GARAGE shield are genuinely working to provide the very best experience for the consumer – and if they don’t, we want to hear from you. We can all play our part in raising standards across the entire independent sector.
2. You ALWAYS receive the very best service
All garages that are members of TRUST MY GARAGE work to the highest industry standards. Our members have access to the most up-to-date technical information and tools, and employ highly skilled mechanics. We have even had TRUST MY GARAGE member technicians voted among the best in the country!
3. Customer service is always outstanding
Customer service is top of the agenda for all our trusted independent garages. We ensure that our members explain work carried out clearly and treat customers and their vehicles with the upmost respect. These garages are part of the local community. They visit the same shops as their customers and their children often go to the same school as their customer’s children. They get to know you and always provide a personal and friendly service.
4. You receive REAL value for money
In the same AA survey 44% of respondents believed that the expense of a repair had been a lot higher than expected after a garage visit. One of the key benefits of a garage being in the TRUST MY GARAGE code means that you will receive an honest and loyal service every time you visit one of our members. Our garages are committed to providing motorists with a fixed quote or estimate, both inclusive of parts, labour and VAT and they only charge for the work completed and parts supplied and fitted.
5. Complaining is easy
In the unlikely event that you are displeased with any aspect of your visit to one of our member garages, you will be able to report it to Trading Standards as well as to us. This means you are backed by the support of two reputable, national associations and also have access to free advice to help address your complaint and rectify it promptly. The key to this is clear communication between the customer and garage.
6. Honest Consumer Feedback
We will soon be adding consumer feedback to the scheme via our website at www.trustmygarage.co.uk and through a TRUST MY GARAGE dedicated “app”. This means that your views will really count – all TRUST MY GARAGE members will welcome constructive feedback and other consumers will see an honest appraisal of the garage.
So remember, any garages displaying the widely recognised TRUST MY GARAGE shield can be trusted to provide an honest and professional service to all motorists. Upon completion of the process, the TRUST MY GARAGE consumer code will be the only approved code in the UK that is exclusively open to independent garage businesses. TRUST MY GARAGE is already a household name and with European law stating that new cars can be serviced at independent garages without invalidating the warranty, the Trust My Garage consumer code will be the final piece in the independent garage jigsaw.
And don’t forget… To find your nearest TRUST MY GARAGE member you can always use the POSTCODE FINDER HERE