Garage Management System, Case Study: EAC Telford
EAC Telford garage is based in West Midlands joined Garage Hive three years ago and have accomplished a noteworthy recovery from loss and progress with improving business efficiency. The team has grown to 18 staff, treated very well as Mark and Jayne believe “Happy Staff = Happy Work”. One of their favourite feature sets of the garage management system is the Customer Online Authorisation.
About the company
EAC Telford is owned by Mark and Jayne Kettle. It is one of the largest Independent Garages in the local area. The garage covers 6500sq ft and has 100 car parking spaces. They see approximately 40-50 vehicles a day through their workshop.
Mark was always interested in repairing vehicles, which made him decide to join the Automotive Industry. At 15, he became an apprentice mechanic after joining a Youth Training Scheme.
After qualifying, Mark went on to work for a couple of local garages and an engine-building company. At this point, he felt that the businesses weren’t being run right with the correct morals and then decided he wanted to start his own business. Mark opened 2 other garages before EAC with different partners but again felt things weren’t running the way he would like.
EAC Telford now has 18 members of staff comprising of 3 front of house, 10 technicians, a driver, valeter, an office administrator together with Mark and Jayne, who are very much a part of the day to day running of the garage.
Mark is of the mindset that “Happy Staff = Happy Work”. He believes in giving back to his staff; he will give each team member their birthday off every year. He built a new crew room which consists of a fully fitted kitchen, pool table, small football table, and an Xbox. Initially, they would have a split lunchtime; now, it is advocated to get all the team together during this time. He will also send staff to Race Days as well as occasionally buy lunch for his team.
We asked Mark some questions about his journey and how Garage Hive helped accomplish his business goals.
What prompted the change?
In 2016/2017, EAC Telford made a loss of £45,000. This was the trigger point for Mark and Jayne to start looking into doing things differently. They went to Automechanika and met an Automotive Business Consultant. He visited EAC Telford and immediately advised Mark that he needed to look at the business’s infrastructure. He also advised Mark to start looking at the company’s efficiencies in terms of technicians and wasted time from an administrative point of view.
The software they were using was unable to provide the information Mark and Jayne were looking for without having to export it into Excel. There were also several requirements Mark had to help EAC Telford run the way he wanted it to, and at the time, these requirements were not met.
Mark tried several different Garage Management Software’s but was introduced to Garage Hive after speaking to another Automotive Business Consultant/Trainer and a business owner who was running Garage Hive, and he then arranged a demo.
"After the demo, I bought up a specific requirement of having the brake measurements both new and minimum within a vehicle card as at the time, we were doing a lot of fleet work, and this was a requirement on most of the jobs. Within 3-4 days, Garage Hive added this development to the system. "
This gave Mark the confidence that Garage Hive was proactive, as they listened to their current customers and potential new customers like him as they made changes to develop the software to meet his needs.
However, garage management software is a tool that needs to be used properly to see real changes in the business, that is why it works even better when combined with some industry experts’ guidance. Mark has worked with experts such as John Batten, AutoIQ and Andy Savva, The Garage Inspector.
What made Garage Hive stand out for you compared to others on the market?
With the amount of money Garage Hive has helped his business make; Mark feels that the profit far outweighs the cost.
"Previously at EAC Telford, we were using more than 6 different systems daily to function. Now with Garage Hive, this is all-in-one. Cost each month is irrelevant if it makes you money in the long run."
What are some of your favourite features?
Mark had created a form in Adobe to send out to customers to sign and send back to confirm work had been authorised. This is no longer needed with the new Garage Hive Feature Customer Online Authorisation.
"The online documents feature in Garage Hive allows us to communicate with customers in real-time and receive quick feedback on jobs that need to be done. We create a report to share with customers via a system-generated link. The link is sent to the customer via email or SMS, and they can open it on whatever device they are using and authorise any additional work offered."
Because of this, it is allowing the staff to spend more time to price up required work and by having fewer jobs through the door each day maximising on the vehicles currently in the workshop.
Data from Garage Hive Reporting has allowed Mark and Jayne to occasionally be away from the garage. However, it still gives them the ability to check how things are going on the hour, which provides them with a sense of control that they haven’t had before, as now they can check on the business anytime, they wish to.
"We can now stop working long hours and start finishing earlier, giving us more time to enjoy life."
What most significant change have you noticed since switching over to Garage Hive?
EAC Telford’s team have found that Garage Hive helped provide a process from the initial booking to how the work is scheduled. The workshop control/run the workshop, as it helps them plan their day, they can see what is left to come in, how a technician is getting on with their job, and if any customers have not turned up, that can be rescheduled.
"Garage Hive helps staff quote consistently for customers by adding fixed mark-ups for each of the item categories. This makes sure we are achieving the profit margins for all parts we sell and ensures our staff can quote and build jobs quickly, without needing to be told sell out prices."
Mark had a bonus report created with Garage Hive Reporting, which is displayed in his workshop for his technicians to see. He finds that this gives them all the drive to increase month on month to achieve bonuses and, in turn, make a profit for the business. His reports also show him his technician’s efficiencies and item margins, average invoice value/ profit, hours sold, and labours sales. This can all be viewed daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
Seeing all of this data has helped Mark decide to reduce the amount of fleet work they saw through the door. Initially, he thought that fleet work would get him a guaranteed job; however, during Covid, he soon realised that he could manage retail work. He has already reduced his fleet work/retail work ratio down from 60%/40% and is hoping to get down to an 80%/20% ratio by the end of 2021.
"Garage Hive has made me revaluate the type of work and helped me decide to change the work coming through my garage."
EAC has now been able to increase its efficiencies by 40%. They went from losing £45,000 four years ago to making over £100,000 in 2020/2021. Their average invoice labour value has increased from £98.46 to £133.73. This has also been done by working on 1206 fewer vehicles than 2 years ago.