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The Mechanic’s Mentor

By autotech-nath on October 17, 2022

The first in an exclusive series where we look at how A&J Fleetcare are growing their business with the help of a mentor – international bestselling business author and marketer Dee Blick

In May, I had the pleasure of speaking at a DPF Doctor Network event at Darren Darling’s HQ in Ashington. It was an amazing day with Gilbert Groot, the founder of JLM Lubricants flying in to join us. In the evening I got chatting to Alan and Jeanette Landale. They’re both from a part of Leeds where I grew up. It was clear they had a great business, but they would benefit from mentoring. I made the decision that evening I would be their mentor and within two weeks we had our first session.

I have been supporting mechanics for 17 years, so my real- world experience helps and I’m no fan of theory. It is my plan to share much of what we cover in the next few issues of autotechnician. It made sense in this first feature to introduce you to the business via Alan.

Here, Alan shares details of his journey into vehicle repair and how A&J Fleetcare has evolved…

“My time at school was marked with mischief and truanting. Teachers predicted I wouldn’t amount to much in life. But the real turning point was a work placement in a garage. Cars fascinated me and what started out as two days a week led to a full-time career. I realised that when it came to cars, I was a perfectionist with an insatiable appetite to learn. Within two months I was a HGV apprentice mechanic. In the years that have elapsed I’ve had many roles in workshops ranging from team leader and the manager of a large fleet to key roles at independent garages. Along the way I’ve invested heavily in attaining many related qualifications even emerging with a distinction in some – vastly different from my school days.

In 2002 I started my own business as a fully-fledged garage working on cars. Our business grew, our training grew and my wife Jeanette joined us, heading up customer service and everything in the business bar working on a car!

“Within five years of successfully operating on the outskirts of Leeds with 800 customers, we made the decision to invest in a large workshop in the centre of Leeds with ample parking, a place for customers and, most importantly, several bays including a DPF bay. We’re members of Darren Darling’s DPF Doctor Network and attend most of his live training to ensure we remain at the top of our game. Joining Darren’s network was a real turning point. We were lacking in DPF experience but nevertheless customers were looking to us to solve complex problems. Darren’s training covers all aspects of DPF faults and fixes. We’re now regarded as one of the best DPF specialists in West Yorkshire with a 100% first-time fix rate.

“How have we grown in the last few years? I’d say customer service and the fact we offer specialised services. We invest heavily in training and Jeanette is known for always going the extra mile for customers. We’re registered with the IMI and the Motor Ombudsman and recently gained a 5-star award for the North Region. As well as being DPF doctors we’re part of the Simply Diagnostic Network and Scanner Danner. Our son Matthew joined us when he was 17 and is now fully trained in diagnostic DPF work, Hybrids and EVs.

“Having Dee as our mentor is brilliant. We already had her books and after meeting her at Darren’s event felt a real connection. We could see that with her onside as our mentor and marketer we could take off. Having not had a mentor before, we were not sure what to expect but it’s working well. Dee challenges us, guides us, and helps us to focus on our strengths. She also gives Jeanette the confidence to talk about our business with key people by reminding us that we’re directors of our business, not just hired help! In our calls with Dee, we talk about day-to-day stuff; what’s working, what isn’t and what we can do to change things. A real breakthrough was the session on being positive about our business. It’s easy to become so bogged down in the small stuff that you lose sight of why you started your business and where you’re planning to take it. Dee is one of a kind and we couldn’t ask for anyone better.”

In the next feature: Building the Success mindset – turning talk into action.

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Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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