Tour blog 5

Aftermarket On Tour comes to the end of its first day on the road

Published:  27 October, 2008

Monday 27th October ...


We swing past and spot him working away on our way to Bristol for the night. Rob is dealing with everything from an old Triumph Vitesse to the frustrations of not having his scan tool access the automatic gear box on a Vauxhall Tigra.

Much to his credit, Rob is working away with a smile on his face despite the freezing weather and problems of modern diagnostics! "I'm a one man band and I like what I do," says Rob. It's great to see that kind of enthusiasm.

David is a former runner-up in the Top Technician competition and both him and Derek are a real credit to the industry with their enthusiasm, dedication and super-friendly customer service.

Derek makes a mean cup of tea and I eat a small meal's worth of biscuits while looking at the impressive TVR 350i racing car that David's working on in the main workshop.

DC Mardles Motor Engineer is a small place tucked out of the way of all passing traffic but, according to David, business has never been better! They don't really advertise much and keep their books packed thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations alone.

That would be a risky business strategy for many garages but if you can deliver excellent technical service combined with superb customer service every time, then it's a brilliant and highly cost-effective strategy. Derek and David are proof of this ability to deliver and keep customers coming back for more.

David also lets me in to one secret. Their garage is a short distance from Exeter Uni and the constant procession of drunken students in the area means there's a good living to be made from replacing vandalised and accidentally snapped-off wing mirrors!

It's a real pleasure to see such friendly garages as this. Exminster Garage is a multiple award-winning place with signs proudly letting customers know of its numerous accolades.

Glen's garage has six technicians (including Carl Williams and James Pearce) with two ATA accredited staff. Glen says ATA has been a real boost for his business and staff.

"We've definitely found it a worthwhile thing," says Glen. "It's getting a bit more publicity now, which is great. It makes a big difference in bringing a bit of credibility to an industry with one of the worst reputations around."

Glen is also pleased to report that more and more drivers are switching away from the dealers in Marsh Barton just up the road. Interestingly, he says most people have really taken on the message that independents can carry out warranty work. "It's just a few people that say 'my car's three years old now so I don't have to take it to the dealer'. Most of them know what independents can offer," says Glen.

Apparently, Marsh Barton Road is famous for having the highest density of car dealers in the whole of Europe. We say hello to cheeky chap Rob Clark and his fellow technician Ashely Hill at Central Garage Services. Then, we swing the van round to DC Mardles Motor Engineer to visit Derek Mardles and David Wagstaff.

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