Updated: Oct 15
About the company
Autocentre Chorley is a well-established MOT, car service, car repair and tyre garage in Chorley. They have highly skilled and qualified technicians who hold over 60 years of combined experience.
Autocentre Chorley has been owned by Kirsty and her husband Gavin and their business partner Pete since 2007 when they decided to purchase the business. Gavin and Pete were already working there as technicians, and Kirsty worked full-time as a project manager on various government-funded projects. With their experience, they felt it was too good of an opportunity to turn down.
Since then, they have continued to grow their business, now having a second unit that sits side by side with their current unit and has also doubled from 6 staff pre-Garage Hive to 12 staff in total. A part of this was also restructuring the business by extracting Gavin and Pete out of the workshop.
“A popular member on the garage scene promotes time spent working on the business and not working in the business. We just went full steam with this; it has enabled us to stabilise the future of the business and spend more time developing and growing”
With their patience and hard work, they are now seen as one of the most proactive garages in their area, always trying new things to help them continuously improve many aspects of their business. Coupled with this, they are really passionate about giving great customer service and now have a large customer base that keeps growing with the help of word of mouth from satisfied customers.
We asked Kirsty some questions about her journey over the last few years and how Garage Hive helped accomplish the business goals.
What made you decide that you needed new software to help you grow your business?
“I kept asking for reports from our old software company, asking them how their system could be developed, and the answer was always a no, we cannot do that for you. I wanted to move the business forward and felt without this data, it was going to stop us from taking that leap forward.”
Kirsty had to manually import and export from different systems into Excel. This still didn’t give her any substantial data, which allowed her to make informed decisions to improve her business.
“I was just thinking there must be an easier way of doing this or another software which would be much more efficient.”
What they needed was:
Instant reporting for daily analysis of their business
An all in one solution for booking in jobs and invoicing them out, and scheduling in the work
Integrated accountancy system
Customer reminders & feedback surveys
Electronic payment service where customers could pay via their phone
An essential need for Kirsty was they wanted software that had a constant focus to develop and improve.
"What I really liked about Garage Hive, it's always continuing in the development of its features and software overall. And with Garage Hive, if there's a no, there's always a good reason and an alternative they can guide you through. Having all the evidence from Garage Hives Power Bi's reports sat behind all the work we do day to day helps with making changes as the proof is there! Before, it was based on feeling which without data, we were not as decisive to make changes, whereas now, we still have that feeling and sense, but it is backed up with the evidence, which makes us act quicker and with more confidence."
So when you first went live on Garage Hive, How did the implementation go?
"Initially, I thought we'd made the biggest mistake that first week as you do when going through such a big change. But I think once we had the onsite install and we started using it with the help of Alex (trainer) in the background, we soon got the hang of it."
"It is the same with anything new, especially software. As soon as you start using it, it becomes second nature. So within the first couple of weeks, things became fairly steady. Now I'm not too sure how we'd live without it."
"From a support perspective, the Garage Hive team were just so helpful, always on hand, like 24/7. The support Alex provided was second to none; it was really intense but so informative! This didn't stop after the install either; any issues or concerns we raised were answered immediately, advice and feedback were instantly there. It was just constant support from Alex and the support team."
Which features do you find the most helpful?
"My personal favourite is Garage Hive's Power BI; it gives me everything that I want and more than our old provider couldn't give me. The data is my favourite part of the system, and how Garage Hive just keeps on developing reports and adding new reports on to Power BI."
The Service Advisors really like the customer feedback surveys. "Our front of house team loves the feedback from customers because they love to hear their names mentioned positively. It cements that the service advisors are giving a great service, which is a pleasure to read as a business owner!"
And what have the results been like?
With the Garage Hive's Power BI reporting, Kirsty quickly identified many opportunities to make changes to help them achieve their goals. "What has been great is having that information and data readily available, which forces you to check where things can be improved, implement new processes and then observe that they are actually working ."
In less than two years after joining Garage Hive, Autocentre Chorley has dramatically increased from 6 staff to 12. "We extracted two directors out the workshop, and we took on new staff. We also got a new workshop controller, which has helped us focus on stabilising the day to day running."
Not only has Autocentre Chorley's grown in terms of staffing, but they have also dramatically grown their turnover, gross profit and average invoice value:
"Our growth turnover, which in 2018 to 19 was 22.3%. The 2019 to 20 turnover was 17.2%. And then this last year, as we've stabilised the business, we've seen 42.4% turnover growth in 2020 to 21, which feels amazing!"
Kirsty believes the software plays an important role in their achievements stating "The growth has just been incredible. All our changes have come from implementing Garage Hive. It's helped us streamline our processes and led us to achieve huge growth in our turnover and gross profit. It has also helped improve the customer experience by everyone following the same processes."
Based on what Garage Hive has done for you, would you recommend it to another garage owner?
An additional thing that stood out to Kirsty was Garage Hive's openness to feedback to improve the software
"The Garage Hive team sense that there are proactive garages that continuously try and improve their ways of working. Having these types of garages in the community (on Facebook), with similar mindsets, means some great ideas spiral from conversations within this group, which Garage Hive acts on to develop its software. The community has such a wealth of knowledge; it is great to be part of."
"I've personally learned a lot from other garage owners, and everyone's so open and willing to share their knowledge. I'd also say that it's led to friendships being built outside of it as well. The support from the other garages owners has aided our development too. Seeing ideas and ways of doing things from a different perspective has enabled us to review some of our processes and change them with positive results."