| There is a major danger that arises from
informing the consumer that you are ‘honest’ and
it usually stems from the response: “...and we don’t
believe you!”. Let’s face it, the rot exists within
car dealerships the length and breadth of our sceptred isles.
Look, I am not suggesting for one moment that the motor trade
is intrinsically dishonest but it has done very little to respond
to serious criticisms over the years.
To many observers, the main dealership is a showroom, which
is manned by shiny trousered oiks, many of whom cannot obtain
proper jobs anywhere else, because, firstly, they never obtained
the commensurate qualifications, when they were at school,
and, secondly, possessing a chequered work history, through
some kind of twisted irony, is more closely akin to taking
a chequered flag in the Used Cars Grand Prix.
Over the years, there have been many attempts by vehicle
manufacturers, importers and their agents to instill a sense
of high professionalism in the retail garage business. Sadly,
it usually emanates from a new, ‘whizz-kid’ managing
director, who wants to ‘make a difference’ but,
the instant he is moved on in the corporate world, the slump
occurs faster than ever to unexplored lows.
When you contemplate the used car trade, while some purveyors
are totally bang-on, the rest are little better than sharks,
referring to valued customers as ‘punters’, exhibiting
crass displays of sexism and, apart from creating a fresh
definition for ‘superficial’, they are able to
dress-up their presence with more plastic than a Chinese takeaway.
Then we look at the tuning scene.
More back street than front-line, located in dingy railway
arches, surrounded by Didicoy, local drugs barons and ne’er-do-wells,
it is little wonder that expressions like “ripped off”,
“failed”, “fly-by-night” and “lied
to” pepper many descriptions of customers’ terrible
tales of tortuous tuning. When Grayhart Limited was established,
later to add Scoobyclinic, SCR and Clinical Performance to
its portfolio, it picked a farm on the outskirts of Chesterfield
as its operational base. From that location, there was no
prospect of neighbours being troubled by noises, let alone
some of the less positive aspects of the tuning fraternity.
From the outset, the company premise was straightforward.
To provide the best deal for its customers (which did not
always mean the ‘least expensive’ one), from an
accessible location (although having sat-nav helps) and the
most all-encompassing range of services, from bodywork to
servicing, both road and competition tuning, with a mail order
service for more distant customers. It was and remains a comprehensive
Kevin Knight, who owns the business, is an ‘Old Skool’
operative. A born and bred local, he does not know how to
tell lies and has been known to put a lot of people off, with
his frank opinions and straightforward propositions. However,
no visitor to The Farm will be in any doubt as to his integrity
and, with most of the staff having been fully employed for
upwards of 15-20 years, that important precursor of staff
longevity is also a stock provision. It is a solid business,
based on decent foundations that possesses a sound future.
It is an independent business model that is unconcerned with
external management ministrations, because it is able to flex
with market changes and go with the flow dictated by its customers,
many of which are as long term as the staff. The simple fact
is, it is a small group of companies that has dedicated its
existence to providing bespoke solutions, both legally and
morally, to satisfy its constantly changing customer demands,
within the tuning business. Customers see what they get and
In some ways, it is a traditional business, not unlike the
local garage that our parents used to trust implicitly and
to which no task was ever too difficult to undertake. It has
already been stated before that, where most of the glossy
High Street dealerships employ fast-fitters to carry out their
9-to-5 routines, Scoobyclinic and its sister companies will
work around-the-clock to engineer and ensure that ‘customer
satisfaction’ is not a fabrication of the marketing
department (which Scoobyclinic does not have, by the way).
As a motoring journalist of more than forty years experience,
I can tell you that The Farm works honestly and industriously
to serve its customers’ needs more productively than
any other garage of its type. In that respect, it is an ‘icon’,
a word that I do not bandy about senselessly.
Oh, sure, there are issues, for most of which the blessed
‘social media’ can be blamed; a factory of home-grown
critics, many of which possess neither the knowledge, or wit,
and usually have an axe that they believe is worth grinding,
even though it seldom gets a sharp edge, with which to assume
personal confrontations, preferring consensus from the ‘like-minded’,
who frequently have zero involvement in the first place.
However, quality will always out. Of course, Scoobyclinic
and the other group companies rely on social media to spread
the word efficiently, which it does but, along with dealing
with both the rough and the smooth, Scoobyclinic holds up
its head and knows that it is an honest exponent of the motor
business. If you want the best, come to the best and be satisfied
that you are better treated at The Farm than you might be
Words: Iain Robertson