Lincolnshire garage set for growth by being ‘choosy’ 

Award-winning workshop owner reveals why less is more

Lincolnshire garage set for growth by being ‘choosy’ 

A garage in Sleaford, established over 54 years ago, has revealed how thinking twice about the jobs it takes on, has set it on course to ensure it’s around for another 50 years.

Russ Houlden, managing director of multi award-winning Billingborough Car and Commercials, took full control of the family business three years ago and says changing the profile of work it takes on has been crucial to its profitability and expansion plans.

He said: “My original plan was to grow by literally taking every job on. We offer a broad range of services from cars and vans to heavy commercial and agricultural machinery, so this was an easy mindset to fall in to.

“But I soon realised the way forward was to concentrate on being more efficient with our time. Some jobs, like specialist American car work, were taking the same amount of time it takes to do five car services. We just couldn’t justify the ramps being used for low profit jobs over ‘clean’ work that’s more profitable with a faster turnaround.”

Fortunately, Russ had appointed Garage Services Online to create a website, which gave him the option to put a plan into action.

He continued: “We were always busy. The website was there to ensure we stayed busy and make life easier for our customers – a lot of who don’t even pick up the phone these days. But the website really came into its own once I made the decision to be choosy about what work we were going to target.

“We asked Garage Services Online to adjust the behind-the-scenes workings of our website. They turned off the work we didn’t want to attract and the calls for those services literally stopped coming through.

“Now, the same six ramps and bays are working to their full potential. With the enquiries the website brings in, I’m choosing what goes on them and can look further ahead in terms of where the business is going.”

Russ has ambitious plans. Being profitable means more training for his technicians, better customer service by providing vehicle videos and reports, an expansion of HGV services, and plans to acquire a third garage site in South Lincolnshire.

Jim Lang, managing director at Garage Services Online said: “We love working with Russ. He really uses his website to its full potential and it’s great to see it assisting him with a strategy to run the business in a way that’s best for him, his staff and his customers.”

Russ concluded: “Our website is an essential cog in the business. It runs effortlessly in the background, doing all the heavy lifting and making things simple for us and our customers.

“All customers are online; you absolutely have to be there. And the ones who are 36 and under don’t even speak on the phone. Everything is via message and email, so why wouldn’t you give every customer the option to contact you in a way that suits them?”

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