Northampton-based In Town Automotive has grown from a small two-man business to a thriving mid-sized garage with 13 bays, servicing more than 10,000 vehicles per year, and a team of 13 staff. But, as owner Terry Dorney explains, the company’s journey has been shaped by the need to understand all aspects of the business, beyond simply servicing and repairing cars.
The early days
Like many garages and service centres, In Town Automotive started off as a small business carrying out repairs, services and MOTs. Our customer base mainly came from people we knew and their referrals. Over time, our reputation for good work and good service grew, as did our customer base. We began to advertise the business in the local newspapers and with leaflet drops and some pretty low-level online search engine stuff. All of this made us busier and busier to the point where we had to start bringing in additional technicians to cope with the workload.
My business partner (Mike) and I discovered quite early on that growing the business from a small start-up to something bigger wasn’t so straightforward, bringing with it a range of new challenges. Moving beyond five ramps meant the nature of the business changed and, as business owners, Mike and I moved into more managerial roles.
We had to make constant decisions on all aspects of the business, from bringing in new work to managing staff, keeping up with payroll, accounts, parts ordering and returns, tax and VAT, insurance, training, customer service and all the things you don’t normally think of when you start out.
Making the right decisions about all of these issues required careful consideration. Having the right information and intelligence about what was going on inside our own business became vital in order to avoid costly mistakes (we made a fair few) and to ultimately create an efficient, well organised business process that would save time, stress and money.
A new venture
The need to find solutions to the operational issues within the business was the catalyst that led us down the path of developing the TechMan Garage Management System. We developed TechMan from the perspective of a growing, successful garage business. Many other Garage Management Systems available have been designed by technology companies that have identified an ‘opportunity’ in the market and developed software to fill the gap.
TechMan, on the other hand, was developed from within a garage environment, specifically for garages and workshops. We identified the common problems and inefficiencies faced by most garage businesses and developed a software system to solve these issues efficiently.
By implementing TechMan into our own garage, we became instantly aware of what was happening inside every aspect of our business. At the touch of a button, we could pull up a report to give us information on any aspect, so we could work out a better process or way of doing something. It has streamlined workflow, helped to shape the way we work and driven greater efficiency across all the garage business functions. We now know which staff members need training and where, we know who is best at which jobs, how much we lose on waste (and how to fix it) and where our customers are located – allowing us to target marketing in other areas to attract more new business. It delivers a secure, paperless system that improves efficiency and reduces wasted time. We have become a well oiled machine and a profitable business through the use of TechMan.
The complete platform
There is a common misconception that Garage Management Systems (GMS) are just fancy invoicing systems. While invoicing is certainly a capability, TechMan is actually more of a complete Business Intelligence Platform and can really help a garage business grow. In my opinion, any forward-thinking garage business owner without a GMS in place is missing an opportunity to make a more profitable business and an easier life for themselves!
We’ve created TechMan for any garage or workshop, large or small. Understanding the need for great customer service in this industry, TechMan is customerled. We’re regularly upgrading, adding additional features – all in response to our customers’ needs and requests. We offer complete guidance, coaching and advice throughout the implementation of the system into a garage’s operations. In this way, a garage can customise the software in the way they need to help manage their business, according to their own unique requirements and circumstances.
In addition, we offer customers the chance to visit us, walk around our workshop and see for themselves how we’ve used TechMan to grow In Town Automotive. We would encourage anyone who is interested in a GMS to take the opportunity to get in touch and come and see us to see how TechMan can help their business.