Updated: Oct 15
About the company
Garden City Garage joined Garage Hive in October 2019. This family-run business was established back in the 1960s and is located in Neath, South Wales; it was taken over by Gareth and his wife Rael in 2002 when it came up for sale. Now they have eight technicians, two apprentices, and three front-of-house, and another staff member who works as a valet.
Their primary focus is to have high-quality customer service and existing customer maintenance and nourishment.
"Quality is what separates us from the community garages around us. We pride ourselves on the quality we provide; you have to take care of your customers."
Gareth and Rael have had many goals over the years. They have constantly been expanding from where they started 19 years ago with one main building. Garden City Garage has another extension just built and ready to function as a weekday workshop. “Our initial and ongoing target is to increase Technician efficiency and also our average invoice value which in turn will help increase our gross profit.” The future looks positive.
We asked Rael some questions about their journey over the last few years and how Garage Hive helped accomplish the business goals.
What were the main problems and frustrations you faced before Garage Hive?
Just before joining Garage Hive, Gareth and Rael went on a business development course led by John Batten from Auto IQ; it got them started with new processes, the importance of reporting and tracking similar KPIs. Their previous management system could not provide the support they needed to level up their business correctly; a lot had to be done manually.
"Garage Hive gave us the opportunity to have it all in one place. Especially the Garage Hive Power Bi app, we also managed to go absolutely paperless, which is something we wanted to do for a while, but on our old system, it just wasn't possible. It has made a massive difference to our efficiency."
Rael came across Garage Hive on a business development forum. Many from there had Garage Hive, which encouraged them to reach out to the team, which lead to a visit to Alex and see how the software works at Lindleys Autocentres. Their main reasons to join Garage Hive were – having everything in one place, reports, support and a community. "Everyone was advocating the support and business growth not only from Garage Hive and its team but also the garages that are part of the community; it was another pro for us."
How was your experience during the implementation process?
Garden City Garage had an on-site install with Rhys for three days. It was a challenge, as with any business, when it is faces substantial and vital changes.
"It looks very daunting when you first start, but as soon as the processes fall in place, it just works. Now I don't know how you would manage without it".
Support has been constant and did not stop after the install – "Rhys was at the end of the phone to solve any difficulties that arose."
The only difficulty was implementing new processes and learning how it all works together.
“As long as your team are all on board and they have positive attitude. Later on, you will wonder how we ever managed without the system. I would say it took the office staff around 2 weeks to fully get to grip with the system and some of our technicians slightly longer.”
"We don't have any troubles, to be honest. They seem to solve it really quickly if there are any issues. We haven't had anything big at all. I've been really happy with how smooth it's all been transferring over."
What is your favourite feature?
"I couldn't pick a favourite, Garage Hive works smoothly and immediately on both tablets in the workshop and front of the house computers – that's great. I really love the customer surveys. They worked really well for us."
Garden City Garage also uses Garage Hive's Power BI app reporting and online booking modules as part of their subscription. “We had a Power BI session in the business development group with the Auto IQ where they showed the importance of data. Reporting is just being able to find out certain figures that we want to work on for our target - the ease of that in Garage Hive is unbelievable."
"And the surveys is another thing we monitor. It is the customer satisfaction and the way that the surveys come in; you can keep up on top of business health immediately and how the customers react to different things like pricing is so easy with it all being straight in front of you."
"With the online booking, we send in links with the messages and they just need to click on the link to book; it’s an easy format for front of the house too; as well as just being able to book it online. With online booking, I've been able to just decide when what time services are available. Customers have mentioned how easy it is to remember only to click on the link. These features have definitely helped.”
Have you seen any changes since you started using Garage Hive?
"Oh, yes, the massive growth. The ability for us as owners not having to be present of the garage and know that Garage Hive ensures that processes are still running without us, that is, you know, a massive bonus."
They have recently finished the latest extension and are looking forward to transforming the new reception area. Garage Hive has played a part in this growth as "being on board with how the data works; it puts everything in front of us. It makes a difference and keeps you on your toes to improve; after measuring little things like the average invoice value. And having that in front of you all the time just keeps you focused; it definitely made a difference, it gives you the capital that you can invest back into the garage."
Based on what Garage Hive has done for you, would you recommend it to another garage owner?
"It's like having another member of staff; I feel like it's the way the system works. It comes in as an extra pair of hands and boots. As goes for the monitoring and reports, if it is important for you, then, yes, Garage Hive is 100% for you."
“We also participated a lot in the Facebook community when we first launched Garage Hive, we went through a lot more questions, and there was always somebody in the group who would answer very quickly. We are mostly reading now to keep up to date with all our new changes. Before the newsletter came out, but the community is a good place, especially if you've got a question or you're not sure whether somebody else might have come across the same thing even with business-related matters”