In conjunction with Luke Cross, of Cross Motor Engineering, Bidford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, Iain Robertson delves into the realms of preventative actions and how to avoid problems occurring further down the line.
There is zero doubt in most garagistes’ minds that prevention is better than cure. In fact, upwards of 50% of your business is reliant probably on a sense of practical foreboding. It is not witchcraft and you do not need access to the writings of Copernicus to ascertain when brake pads need to be replaced imminently on a customer’s car, when it is wheeled in for service. Keep the customer informed and the ‘surprise’ element is reduced but the gratitude quotient escalates by a healthy margin.
While chatting with Luke, who manages the perpetually busy family garage services business that has been in existence since 1983, he is highly aware of preventative actions. “Engine cleaning is a godsend to our business and is much to the benefit of our customers,”he states.“We work closely with all of our customers, whether they be private, or business. We listen to their stories and work with them to resolve issues, some of which can be both pressing and costly in the longer term.”
One of the biggest problems confronted by major fleet operators lies in engine reliability and, while some popular motors can run forever and a day requiring little more than regular maintenance, some possess inherent troubles, often related directly to contamination. Luke continues: “We are aware that Ford’s 2.2-litre and PSA’s 1.6-litre turbo-diesel units, among others, can build-up unwanted oil-related deposits that, much like spotting worn brake pads, can lead to a potential breakdown. We are partnered with EDT Automotive, a leading player in the engine flush arena. Their bespoke equipment allows us to carry out the most comprehensive engine cleaning tasks, which help to extend the operational life of those engines.”
Naturally, it is neither blind ambition, nor a ’sell-through’ opportunity, that makes Luke and his team recommend a thorough engine flush periodically to their customers but, rather, the knowledge gained from a hard-earned reputation in the garage services field. To Luke, keeping his colleagues well trained and informed is every bit as important on the preventative actions front.“We have solid evidence,”he emphasises, “that cleanliness is next to godliness, if you want to extend the working life of a vehicle. As such, whenever we encounter a need to carry out a turbocharger replacement, our customers know that we shall also carry out an EDT engine flush.”
At an on-cost of £120, it has become a sensible option for the majority of Luke’s clients, especially as they gain from lower emissions and greater fuel efficiency. Yet, preventative actions are so inherent to Luke’s mindset that even the arrival of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic was addressed at Cross Motor Engineering, without either panic, or emotion. “Our staff work apart and maintain a safe distance from each other. Our receptionist avoids personal contact with customers. We sanitise all working surfaces and wipe-down seats, steering wheels and controls in customers’ vehicles with religious fervour! Naturally, facemasks and protective gloves are de rigueur in our business anyway, we simply change them more frequently.
“We want to remain in business for as long as possible and addressing the issues related to this pandemic, by following the government’s guidelines, is the best means for us to exercise common sense and ensure that we are not side-lined. After all, we have customers’ needs to service and some of them fall into the ‘essential users’ category.”
The infamous ‘6Ps’ could be augmented by a seventh for Prevention, most especially in these difficult times, but, as Luke Cross demonstrates handsomely, he has a handle on dealing with timely intervention, to ensure that subsequent problems are reduced, or eradicated, as necessary.