If there is one business sector that generates more hate mail than double glazing, or insurance salespeople, writes motoring journalist (oops! Another one!) Iain Robertson, it is the motorcar industry and tuners get their fair whack…
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 package.
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 are contented.
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 elsewhere.
Words: Iain Robertson