Earlier in the year, PMM sat in on a leadership training course led by one of the aftermarket’s biggest names, Andy Savva, a.k.a. The Garage Inspector.
Andy Savva is a familiar face to many within the industry, and has been a contributor to PMM for many years. His career has seen him rise through the ranks of responsibility within a garage business and now he has turned his hand to teaching based on his wealth of knowledge and experience. Eager to get a taste of his highly regarded business training days, we took a trip to Fleet to sit in on The Garage Inspector’s ‘Effective Leadership & Quality Management Essentials’ course.
There are plenty of courses to choose from when it comes to The Garage Inspector’s training programme – you can find out exactly what these are in the link at the end of the article – and all are geared towards garage owners and technicians who want to better their business.
The course PMM attended was fully booked and had delegates from independent garages across the south of England. Andy, as always, warmly welcomed everyone in, recognising familiar faces and greeting new ones. Keen to establish camaraderie and break down any barriers within the group, Andy insisted that the delegates introduce themselves to the room, giving each person 30 seconds to explain who they are. This simple, non-descript icebreaker set the tone for the rest of the day as it emboldened all those who participated.
Andy structures his courses around invaluable workbooks that attendees are then able to take home after the course comes to an end. Each one is packed cover to cover with the information that Andy has gathered over the years, and serves as a ‘bible’ on how to achieve success in business (the lessons Andy teaches extend beyond the garage industry – yes, editors included).
The day was split into two halves, and as the name of the course might suggest, the first half would focus on effective leadership, and the second, quality management.
Part one: ‘Effective Leadership’
Leadership is a topic that many will have some understanding of; you will no doubt have heard about a number of great leaders: Winston Churchill, Barack Obama, Gandhi, the list goes on. Andy certainly refers to these revered figures as he talks, but he goes a step further and identifies the traits they have in common, really homing in on what makes people follow them and whether there are any transferrable qualities into the garage environment.
Andy really excelled when delegates raised leadership questions within their own businesses. For example, one delegate mentioned that they were coming up against a stubborn owner who was unwilling to listen to the wants of their employees. Andy provided advice on how to approach this tricky situation and explained why he would act in this way. Similarly, another delegate said that despite owning a garage, they often found themselves personally carrying out diagnostics processes. This raised the complicated question: can you direct a company from the workshop floor?
Subsequently, this generated further questions, such as: chat is the difference between a leader and a manager? With its own dedicated section in the workbook, the question generated a huge amount of discussion. However, Andy highlighted a particular aspect that really makes the difference: having a goal.
He explained, “You need to have a vision and be able to communicate this to your team. Not only that, but then you have to develop this into individual goals for the members of your team to provide motivation.”
Throughout the morning, Andy was incredibly encouraging and ensured that everyone was involved; an act of leadership in itself.
Part two: ‘Quality Management Essentials’
After a pause for lunch, the course continued full steam ahead. The afternoon session would see a transition to the second half of the programme, ‘Quality Management Essentials’.
Much of this encompassed the ideas that Andy had learned whilst completing his business degree at Loughborough University. The main ethos that Andy promoted was ‘Kaizen’ – which literally means ‘Good (Kai) Change (Zen)’. He stressed that to run a successful garage, you must adopt a practice of “continuous improvement”, starting with a look at your business, followed by the process of removing any ‘waste’. Here, we are not just talking about ‘waste’ in the physical sense, although there is an element of that, too. Andy is in fact referring to time, efficiency, problem solving, and more besides.
Putting these ideas into the context of his own previous successful business, Brunswick Garage, Andy explained, “At Brunswick, what we tried to ensure was a flow, removing anything that might cause even the slightest of hold-ups. It got to the point where I put tape on the dustbins to prevent any overspill. This meant the floor remained clean and gave technicians an indication as to when the bins needed emptying. Both clean and an efficient use of time. For us garages, time is everything.”
After further intense discussion and an eye-opening organisational exercise, the day’s course came to end. For many of the delegates, they would stay on for the next day, which would cover ‘Customer Excellence and Reception Management’.
However, before parting ways, PMM spoke to Tina Drayson, of CCM, who happened to be in attendance: “I have been fortunate enough to attend some of Andy’s other courses on previous occasions. I knew from experience, that I was in for an intense couple of days. Andy makes you dig deep, think hard, and challenge yourself.
“Today, I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing, like-minded people, sharing stories, woes and ideas. I can’t wait to catch up with them in the future.
“When you attend these courses, it becomes clear that Andy has put in an incredible amount of time, effort and energy into them. This comes across in the way he delivers and engages with every person there. Andy talks from experience having managed his own successful garage. Every scenario, he has suffered, experienced, lived and found a solution for.
“We can get so set in our ways, doing what we believe is best, that we forget that we can all improve. A good manager will always try to learn and evolve. So, even if it is the only investment you make this year, these courses are a must. You will not regret it.”