In conjunction with Andy Crook of Gotboost in South Wales, a business that is significantly greater than its component parts, Iain Robertson delves into the realms of communication and its importance, as the garage industry emerges from Covid-19.
Regardless of the political, economic, or conspiratorial significance of the dreaded virus that has floored so much of Great British enterprise, its positive levelling value lies in a key opportunity for the garage industry to plan strategically and temper carefully its competent re-emergence into a somewhat changed and cash-strapped world. Intriguingly, from its Bridgend base, Gotboost is not just a leading diagnostics firm but it exemplifies its presence with frontline motor racing experiences, tuning services and an industry training facility that is second to none.
Its director, owner and instigator, Andy Crook, is a former soldier, whose post service life has led him along a mostly scientific career path. While Gotboost is employing its own medicine to address consumer demands post ‘lockdown’, Andy is only too aware that far too many garages will be over run and subsequently incapable of surviving a mad rush.
“I am worried for them,” he outlines. “Loyalty has become a readily dispensable attribute that can be tossed aside, when forced to respond to typical ‘How long/how much?’ questioning. In the diagnostics business, providing definitive answers can prove to be problematic, yet, as a valuable profit centre, garages need to seek a balance between knowledge and pie in the-sky assessments. The only way to address them is by being up-front honest but ensuring that the business stall is laid out appropriately. This demands a concentration of effort on communications.”
Enhancing visibility for main franchisees is supported by the manufacturer brands. However, the independent garage sector has relied more on reputation than marketing. “It is vital,” states Andy, “that effort is expended during this period of lockdown on using the tools at a business’s disposal. Social media can be a nightmare but, effectively managed exposure, written carefully and illustrated succinctly, will pay dividends, at minimal cost.”
However, the average garage owner is a hands-on mechanic and not the next budding Jilly Cooper. “Investment remains essential,” reinforces Andy. “Engage with a writer; somebody that can empathise with the business and its reach. Check out Google and improve your standing with relevant information, not least so that it percolates to pole position on consumers’ mobile phones. Your business might be a stellar proposition but, unless people know about it and you are overwhelmed with MOT tests, they are likely to go elsewhere, regardless of how good you think you are.”
Yet, can enough newsworthy material be created to draw attention? Andy believes that news and views are important but so too are previous sound references and the more current the better. “Enhancing presence is achieved through a good website, as well as regular items appearing on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and Instagram, all with hashtag links directly back to the business. Everything that Gotboost carries out is relatable, from tuning, to motor racing, and workshop services to diagnostics. However, our industry-standard training services are refined consistently to meet shifting demands, none more so than as we emerge from lockdown, which has changed the parameters significantly.”
Andy’s hands-on experience of military systems has made him an ideal educator. “Garage owners cannot afford to be inflexible. A reliance on past glories may create business myopia at least and blindness at worst. We live in an imperfect world and maximising the potential of your business assets has never been more essential. There has never been a better opportunity than what exists at present to redefine and underscore the significance of the garage trade to its locale. Miss it and there is unlikely to be a second chance.”
While this last gasp of each issue of Autotechnician magazine has usually been tongue-in-cheek, it would be fair to suggest that a different tone is needed to deal with current circumstances. Andy Crook’s sage advice may help you to address aspects of your business that you had not contemplated. Do take it on-board, as added surety.