Garage Management System | Case Study: TR Autos
Tom and Kayleigh run their garage TR Autos in Yeovil, Somerset. They agreed to share their business story and journey of joining Garage Hive with us. Tom has two decades of industry experience , both practical technician side and now business as TR Autos was founded in 2008; since then the team has grown, practices have moved away from paper diaries to garage management software, their productivity has increased and they also have moved into bigger premises. All of that has lead TR Autos to a huge turnover increase of £113k. Read the story in their own words…
Tell us about the brief history of your business.
“Tommy has been in the industry for 20 years starting with his apprenticeship at Renault. He then went onto work for the SAAB dealer in Yeovil. TR Autos was established when Tommy was 22 in a glorified shed on a farm. It was here that he gained a reputation locally as a reliable and trustworthy technician who was willing to fix anything, from cars, trailers and even machinery. In 2012 one of Tommy’s childhood friends who worked at a separate local garage decided to join as a partner and moved to a location on a busy Yeovil trading estate where they made their name as a SAAB specialist. Fast forward to February 2021 Dave stepped down from the partnership to pursue a new career and I (Kayleigh, who has been there from the beginning and joined full time in 2016) became a partner in February 2021.”
What is your set up now?
“Currently we have 4 members of staff, Tommy and myself (Kayleigh). Tommy, Dave and Jamie are our Technicians, Tommy mainly deals with SAAB restoration, Dave specialises in VAG, and Jamie is a newly qualified technician after completing his apprenticeship with us so picks different jobs in the workshop. We also have one apprentice, one front of house and BOB… (the retired engineer and father of Tommy) he will make anything… including the tea.”
Experience before Garage Hive
What made you think about joining a garage management software?
“We were old school it was all paper diaries and filing systems. We had a very basic software to create invoices but no way of doing any more than that. To have our business thrive we needed much more and should have really moved systems years ago.”
How did you first come across Garage Hive?
“I was looking at different systems and trialling a few and none felt like the right fit. Tom Cockings at RCMR recommended Garage Hive after hearing about what we needed.”
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed since joining Garage Hive?
“We now have the ability to invoice for any work our techs do i.e. big jobs which last days/ weeks to small jobs like fitting a lightbulb. With all our jobs being clearly linked with the electronic diary, we are also not losing track of any work whereas before things could sometimes slip the net. We are also able to sell through Garage Hive the used spare parts we don’t fit.
Having Garage Hive Reporting app at our fingertips has really helped the business grow. Being able to clearly see our techs efficiencies, and track our gross profit daily/ weekly/ monthly etc really enables us to plan and steer the business in the direction we want.”
Experience with Garage Hive
Looking from when you first signed up to now, tell us how the last 6 months have been, and the feelings you had while transitioning on to Garage Hive?
“Tommy doesn’t adapt or accept change very easily, so moving to Garage Hive was such a big step as a small business. It was hard work trying to prepare to go live as Tommy is a hoarder of old parts and with no previous stock system (it was all in his head!) it proved to be difficult. It has been an extremely busy first six months and we are continually learning new things within Garage Hive… Poor Tommy 😉.”
How do you find the training and support before/ during, and after you went live?
From the moment of our first enquiry, everyone at Garage Hive have been immensely helpful, Elliot spending all his time via teams explaining everything beforehand and answering all my questions… and there were plenty. To Tom coming down for the training, which was an eye opener of what we really needed from Garage Hive for our business to succeed.
“No matter what help you need there is always someone from the Garage Hive team to help, whether on the phone, Facebook or WhatsApp. This is so important for us as it gave us confidence in not only joining Garage Hive, but staying with them for the foreseeable, as we know they will support us every step of the way.”
What would you say is your biggest challenge when learning Garage Hive?
“There were two main challenges when moving to Garage Hive. The first was getting Tommy adjusted to change! And the second was all of us becoming accustomed to going from only a paper diary to the Garage Hive software. With time though everything just clicks into place and we haven’t looked back since. It was the best decision we’ve ever made for our business!”
Now you’ve got used to using Garage Hive day to day, how have you found it changed things for you and your staff?
“The use of the electronic diary is fantastic, to be able to create, allocate and deallocate jobs within a second is incredibly efficient. Front of house are loving being able to see the real time information so we know exactly where we are at any point in time, seeing what we have in stock by recording all of the part numbers.”
"Having the tablets for technicians has been the most rewarding, the ability to know exactly what is to be done and to have all the information they need at their fingertips, so they don’t need to come to front of house to ask anything, they can just crack on."
“All the changes that Garage Hive created for us have all been for the better and it shows with the increase in productivity in our working days.”
Garage Hive bits and pieces
What would you say your favourite features, are in Garage Hive? How have they helped you resolve any problems you had before or introduced a new way of working?
“The customer online authorisation inspection checklists are a brilliant feature and one of our favourites. The ability to have a checklist created for servicing or vehicle health check on a vehicle new to us, gives us the ability to ensure we are offering the best to our customers and creates transparency of what the vehicle may or may not need.
“SMS and email integration. The ability for customer surveys, reminders or manual text and emails moves businesses further into the digital age. We have noticed more of our customers prefer this way of communication.”
How have you found being part of the Garage Hive Facebook community? What do you like about it?
“The Garage Hive Facebook community is another great way of being part of the community, not only do you get to pose questions to the team but to all the other businesses within Garage Hive and it isn’t necessarily about the software, the page is designed to help and support each other.”
Tell us what you have noticed has improved in business data in your garage since joining.
"With our previous system we can only truly compare turn over. By our third month using Garage Hive, we noticed our turnover was much higher. A comparison since using Garage Hive to our previous software over the last 10 months is we’ve made £113,305 more than the previous year."
“This huge increase in revenue has allowed us to move from our small two bay unit to a workshop which is three times the size, on a site that is six times the size. We are currently in the process of having our first MOT bay installed too. Without Garage Hive’s Power BI reports, making this change would’ve have felt much more daunting but the numbers gave us confidence that we could afford to move to a bigger site.”
Finishing up, please share your general thoughts about your experience with Garage Hive system. Would you recommend Garage Hive to other garage owners, why?
“Now that we use GH every day, it is clear…..How did we ever do without it? For the changes it has made to our business, Tommy and I would recommend Garage Hive in a heartbeat.”
"It does everything a business needs and is always developing. The fluidity to use as much and as little as you like, whether you are a small or a larger business, it suits all Garages. Although it can take some getting used to, the results are worth it and clearly for the better."