Tailpipe – Tales from the workshop floor – In conjunction with Steve Scott, of Simplydiag.net, cheshire, Iain Robertson receives an insight into a growing community of professional technicians, where and ethos of ‘be the best you can possibly be!’ creates a much-needed catalyst for change.
We all recognise how tough it is to secure the services of a good mechanic. They are rocking-horse droppings. Yet, our industry runs a risk of inward collapse, unless it can address the poor public perception of a career, which has slumped sadly into ‘grease monkey’ territory. Central to that view is a race to the bottom in earnings potential. The need to recognise garage technicians as knowledgeable, qualified specialists has seldom been stronger but Steve Scott, in league with his fast- growing subscriber base, is making an impact.
The transition from mobile vehicle diagnostician to YouTube ‘star’ has been a four-year journey of peaks, troughs and copious self-learning. “To be honest,” Steve states, “at the age of 48, I was disillusioned as a ‘flying’ automotive doctor! I had contemplated early retirement.” However, a good friend suggested that Steve could translate his Master Technician talents onto social media.
Social media is a free-for-all. Unless targeted tightly and managed clearly, trolling, time-wasting and even greater, loss of credibility, can be the upshot. Yet, Steve is an ingenious ‘fisherman’. His target is garage technicians. He proposed further contact and, through ‘live chat’, developed a Facebook page that was also open to the public. “For greater privacy, I created a group page just for the trade,” recalls Steve. “It was an unmitigated disaster! After just two months, I disbanded it but not before formulating a pay-wall for subscribers that would operate across my own, bespoke platform.” Simplydiag.net was established, along with a tagline, ‘Stronger Together’.
The numbers grew steadily to reach up to 40,000 technicians and interested DIYers worldwide across all platforms. In charging a fee, on an otherwise free-to-access website, Steve created a community hub for over 1,600 automotive technicians at present, where intensive problem-solving gained traction. The fees are £15/month, or £150 annually, all, or more, of which is readily refundable by discount programmes established with his website partners. “These partners are not sponsors,” Steve explains, “but every one of our members can gain from the relationships that are established.”
Steve is always keen to foster sound relationships with not just his members but each of the partners and, like a self- fulfilling prophesy, they become their own brand moderators, able to respond concisely to technical issues. However, Steve wanted to shore-up his YouTube presence. Securing the use of a workshop adjacent to a working garage, in Northwich, Cheshire, it is repurposed as a studio and auditorium, with a steady stream of resolvable technical queries.
“The purpose-built studio is an ideal solution”, he declares. “I am able to invite guests not just to see diagnostics in operation but also to take an active part in the training programmes we produce. We welcome all input, because every ounce contributes to the ultimate aim of being that vital catalyst for change.”
Naturally, the tools and other services provided come from simplydiag.net’s partners, all of which gain from the mutually beneficial and high visibility potential of the carefully targeted features that are building into a sizable portfolio. Among them are The DPF Doctor, Pichler, Varta and Hella-Gutmann Diagnostics (log onto the simplydiag.net website to see the full list). However, two of them did spike my attention, the first being HEVRA, which Steve, as a highly qualified EV technician, explained to me is where much of the future training potential lies.
Yet, another is OurVirtualAcademy.com. Having asked Steve about the level of interaction with the broader, branded motor industry, he revealed, “It is early days, yet, but I should love to see a greater cooperation between the manufacturers and their UK agents with our site. Our intention is to grow the community and its knowledge base. Then, we shall urge them to come and join us!”There is a strongly dedicated and near-messianic message emerging from simplydiag.net, from a bloke wholly involved in his role. Its accessibility may provide the essential catalyst.