Opinion: This is why customer communication is essential for your workshop’s reputation

GW columnist Andy Parsons discusses servicing schedules and menus

Opinion: This is why customer communication is essential for your workshop’s reputation
Image: Bigstock.

I read with interest recently an article on Garage Wire about a garage which was hit by trading standards and found guilty in court.

Andy Parsons of Shortfield garage in Surrey.

I can’t imagine Trading Standards randomly visiting businesses without some sort of cause for concern.

Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards, which was the operation behind the Binley Woods sting, claims that its “limited resources” seek “to protect road users by carrying out intelligence led operations” and these include customer complaints.

It would seem that they had cause for their investigation at Binley Woods.

In it’s defense, Binley Woods Service Centre admitted that there was confusion between a ‘major’ and ‘full’ service.

Major Vs full servicing

Service schedules can be a pain.

In the good old days, cars were serviced twice a year and generally switched between oil service and full service.

Full serviced involved plugs, points, air filter, fuel filter, pollen filter and we’d also strip the brake shoes and check the dwell angle.

Today though, long-life and time-related servicing is the new norm and a whole other hotly debated topic.

Related: EXCLUSIVE: Garage speaks out following “hard-hitting” Trading Standards sting

Look up any car on Autodata and you’ll get a multitude of different time and mileage schedules.

And if it’s something like a BMW MINI or Mercedes, then it will tell you what’s needed at any particular service.

Throw into the mix timing belt changes, it’s to see how some can get confused.

That said, there should be no confusion on what your customer is expecting and getting.

Here at Shortfield Garage, we’ve worked hard to develop the reputation that we want in our local community and that means clear pricing and open communication with our customers. 

No smoke without fire

It would appear from the article that a full service at Binley Woods is an oil and filter change but the customer should surely have known what was offered, unless there was an attempt to mislead.

I think the main issue is the terminology – when was an oil change and filter change ever considered to be a full service?

Mind you, £130 for an “oil service” on most cars would still be a cracker of a deal.

Think about it.

Factor in oil, filter, technician time and responsible disposal; plus all of the overheads such as electric and maybe even a receptionist or service advisor; and allowing for £21 VAT, assuming they are above the threshold.

Based in Surrey with a large workshop and properly trained and paid staff, we certainly couldn’t do it if wanted to continue making a profit.

I do find it frustrating that so many garages offer servicing deals.

A technician trains long and hard to get to the top of their game and they’re dealing with vehicles which can either kill or save on a daily basis.

We should be striving for pay that reflects this.

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