Opinion: Garage network membership is great but it’s not the ‘be-all and end-all’

If you are at all familiar with me or my garage you will no doubt know that I am a member of a garage network which is facilitated through my main parts supplier.

Kerry Dukes of Dukes Autotech, St Austell.

A lot of thought went into deciding whether or not we would like to join a network at all, and I spent a great deal of time deliberating between the many options available to me.

I’ve been very happy with my membership; however, I have recently been considering the longevity of my affiliation and whether this still works for me.

I wanted to use this opportunity to share with other independents who perhaps are either in the same boat, or are considering joining a network and are unsure as to whether or not it’s a good move for them.

As I say I took a great deal of time looking into all the different options for me and the path that I took may not be for everybody, but what I will say is that my choice of network spring-boarded my business forward onto the next level.

Opinion: Stop devaluing MOTs in the eyes of motorists

Suddenly, a powerhouse of tools and contacts were available to me that I could never have dreamed of when standing on my own.

Each scheme will have its own attributes and USPs however for me the most valuable tool was my representative who was invested in my business and keen to help in every way they could.

They put me in contact with the company that currently supply our website for example a very worthwhile change of direction that boosted website traffic by 30 per cent.

I found myself becoming more and more invested in the scheme and took great pleasure and pride in promoting all that it had to offer.

I was so happy that I took a lot of my own personal time to help other members or to help signpost prospective new members to the right people.

Opinion: EV switch chance for garage industry to address poor pay and attract youngsters into workshops

However, a few years on I find myself considering whether this is still the right path for me.

I’ve enjoyed all the scheme has to offer and not a great deal has changed in the time I have been a member.

We’ve had the odd minor addition or change, but nothing to write home about.

I look at the services that my network offer and all bar one are services that I could take up or provide independently.

It’s got me to thinking what is a true independent garage?

I’m fiercely proud of being an independent garage.

Chains and dealerships have their place and do what they do very well.

Related: eBay continues sales push of used car parts with new campaign

However, I am more than happy with my business and how it performs.

Is my partnership with a network a juxtaposition of my pride of being an independent garage?

To whom does my effort and promotion of the scheme truly benefit, and are they grateful for that promotion?

I am feeling currently that perhaps I have exhausted all that my scheme has to offer, with little appreciation for what I do in my own time and perhaps it’s worth considering taking the stabilisers off and going it alone – becoming a true independent once more.

The launch of the Garage Buying Group is a sign of the times and perhaps an indication that I’m not alone.

Related: Garages warned of new High Court bailiff scam

Perhaps we need to consider our priorities as independents and rather than showing pride and affiliation to schemes and networks, maybe we should be passionate about what we provide as true independents standing alone.

I for one will be keeping an eye on the Garage Buying Group with keen interest as to what the future holds for it.

That’s not say I’m not happy with my membership, but responsible business owners will often review their choices from time to time so as to ascertain if they are still of benefit or not.

Every network has its differences – different pros and cons depending on your business style and strategy.

And that’s not to say that they aren’t all as unprogressive as my network.

However, if you are a member of a network or are considering joining, I would recommend regularly re-assessing situation so that you can either ensure you are getting the most out of your membership or come to the conclusion that it’s not for you anymore before you find that your investment both financial and emotional outweighs any gains – like I am.

Related: New Halfords brakes for life deal seeks to poach customers from competitors with rival offers

My advice to anybody considering joining a garage network is that they have their place.

They are a great starting point and certainly for me were instrumental in success over the first two years of membership.

Beyond that however I would question their usefulness long-term.

There are plenty of networking opportunities for small business owners and independent garage owners specifically.

If I had my time again, I would perhaps consider joining them first before committing to a network.

Share your comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Have your say!

0 0

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.