Industry experts are suggesting that independent garage owners will need to specialise their skills to succeed in what’s becoming an increasingly technological industry and that’s exactly what Tomsett Kent MOT Centre in Stockbury has done.
Keen to make a big splash about its new specialist repair bay for alternatively fuelled vehicles, the business welcomed members of the local press and public to celebrate its investment into servicing and repairing electric and hybrid vehicles.
The news marked the opening of Stockbury’s first public charging station for electric cars, which Tomsett Kent MOT Centre has made freely available to the public.
Owner, Dave Tomsett said: “The announcement of the 2040 UK ban on the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles has accelerated interest in electric vehicles.
“We’re anticipating a lot of demand and we’re proud to be offering a range of services to electric and hybrid vehicle owners in Stockbury and beyond.
“We are close to the M2, A249 and M20 so it made sense to make our charging point public.”
Free electric charge point
The charging point is the only one available to members of the public for several miles and offers a handy lifeline for electric cars traveling on routes between London and the south east coast.
Inside the workshop, a dedicated service bay is equipped with rubber matting, specialist diagnostic tools and equipment.
However, the most significant proportion of the investment has gone into training.
Technicians have completed hybrid and electric vehicle awareness training and safety programmes, while Dave completed several BOSCH and Pro-Moto programs to level three and level four in hybrid and electric vehicle systems and components.
Speaking to GW Views, Jamie Stone of Tomsett Kent MOT Centre told us more about why the decision was made to specialise in this area.
“Hybrid and electric technology is something Dave has been interested in and has been keen to capitalise on for a while,” she explained.
“A few of our customers had already purchased hybrid and electric vehicles and had a keen interest in looking for a trust-worthy and reliable garage to get their vehicle repaired and serviced.
“There are at least five to ten hybrid or electric vehicle cars in our village alone, and we have at least five pure electric vehicles on our own customer database as well as a growing number of hybrid vehicles.”
There’s already a Renault Zoe to Tesla Model S on the garage database but, for now, its hybrid vehicles that the technicians are seeing most.
Jamie added: “One hybrid vehicle owner had taken his vehicle to three other garages before they came here and none were able to successfully repair it.
“They’ve since brought his vehicle back to us for MOT and service, as well as the other vehicles in the household.”
Dave believes it’s a long-term investment that has future-proofed the business and suggests it’s one that more independents should be making.
He said: “As vehicle manufacturers create more and more hybrid and electric vehicles the need for specialist repairers will grow and we hope to be ahead of the curve.
“It’s something that every garage will have to face eventually but its important that the proper training is undertaken.”
With the garage located just a couple of minutes away from M2, Dave’s anticipating a significant rise in the number of hybrid and electric vehicles making their way to his workshop.
Getting to know Jamie
What was on your first job sheet?
First job sheet was probably something rather agricultural because when the garage first opened, Dave did lots of agricultural repairs.
What’s the best car you’ve worked on?
We like Japanese and older cars where you can really get your hands dirty. The newer vehicles are very technological now. Nobody likes working on a BWM here!
What’s the most useful garage tool you have used?
We’ve got both a G-Scan and a Snap-On diagnostics scanner, both very useful.
What’s the most useless garage tool you have ever used?
I don’t think we’ve got one to be honest. We tend to choose equipment as a team so we make sure we use everything that we get. The latest equipment we’re investing in is a lovely EDT Automotive machine, so we’re looking forward to trying that out.
What’s your ideal day off?
That is a question. Right now, in this heat, it would be on the beach.
What profession would you be in if you weren’t a vehicle technician?
I didn’t actually choose to be in this profession, I sort of got thrown into it. I actually started out as a teacher but wanted a career change and ended up here. To be fair, I like working in the automotive industry. I like the fact that customers depend on us to get their vehicle back on the road. We’re able to make their day and fix the problem, that’s what I like about my job.
What’s the highlight of your career?
The highlight for us is how close we all are as a team here. We’ve had a lot of difficulties in the past few years. Dave wasn’t very well at the beginning of this year and we lost our MOT tester to cancer a couple of years ago so we’ve had a lots of things to overcome but we’ve pulled together and we know that we can rely on each other. I think that’s what makes this garage so special.
What is the biggest challenge the industry faces at the moment?
Vehicles are becoming ever-more complicated and we seem to live in a throw-away society. Vehicles don’t seem to be built to last anymore. Most electrical problems in cars now are very expensive to fix. As independents, it’s up to us to ensure we invest in the right tools and training needed to tackle that challenge. I can see more independent garages specialising going forward, it’s one of the reasons why we’ve gone down the hybrid and electric route.