Tim Benson's family business – Oldfields Garage - was established by his parents over 30 years ago in Leominster. Before taking over the business, Tim worked with the main dealer parts department and has been in the industry for 15 years.
About the company
Cedar Garage is an independent car garage that was established in 1982 in Worthing. Both Kevin Pearce and Matthew Copp took over the business in April 2013. Before that, Kev and Matt had a small car garage called Car Doctors which they opened in 2011. With them going from strength to strength, their customer base & workload increased, so they decided to merge with Cedar Garage. They now have 2 branches that sit about a mile apart, one of which being a German Car Specialist and the other focusing on Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Citroen, Peugeot and Vauxhall vehicles.
The team has continued to expand year on year and now Kev and Matt have a total of 23 staff. the team is made up 11 techs, 3 apprentices, 7 front of house service advisors and Kev and Matt as owners.
What problems were you facing which made you decide you wanted to change?
“We used other software providers before Garage Hive which didn’t deliver what we needed. Our previous provider was not being responsive enough and were not making changes quickly enough, there were no upgrades to the software. I expected it to do what Garage Hive does, for example, allowing us to look at the data reports, but it couldn’t. There were a lot of operating issues that made it very slow and certain functionalities just were not very beneficial to us.”
“With Garage Hive, we found it runs a lot smoother day to day, this is important to us as we need to work at pace, so you want the software to keep up.”
"What we like about Garage Hive is that it's much more adaptable and progressive. They put a lot of time into implementing changes, they see that those changes can benefit many garages so want to develop the software to help everyone. From a business owner's perspective, the reporting side of Garage Hive through the Garage Hive Power BI App is great! It gives us the data that we need to work on our business, not just in it."
Did you try and resolve the issues with your previous software providers before changing to Garage Hive?
“We tried working with them by giving feedback on ways to improve the software. They had plenty of opportunities to change but were just not interested at the time. Data was important to me and the day to day running of my business, so this is what led me to look for new software.”
What made Garage Hive stand out for you?
The fact that it is very dynamic and this is the first time I have seen a schedule work. On the previous software, we didn’t use the schedule, instead, we used the T card system which caused duplication, re-entering information from paper to the system. We are now we are completely paperless.
There is always an opportunity to improve Garage Hive as it keeps growing, I am confident they will continue to make things better. A good example of this is they introduced the ability to raise and review tickets, we now see other customers’ feature requests and have the ability to vote so the software developers can prioritise implementing the features based on their popularity. This shows how seriously they take customer feedback.”
How was your experience during the implementation process?
“Very good to be fair. We put in time beforehand, practicing on the trial system to familiarise ourselves with the process. Everyone was on board with changing over to new software as they didn’t like the previous system, so were very open to changing to Garage Hive. This was an important factor which made the change easier to implement.”
“In terms of the initial training, Alex and Rhys came down to do the install with us. Both were really good and with us having a group set up on WhatsApp where you could ask a question straight away or send a photo, it was so easy to get that live support when you needed it.”
What immediate changes did you notice after joining Garage Hive?
“The speed of the system is incredible, the management system itself and the organisation set up in Garage Hive means things do not get lost or missed as they did before. It is like having an extra member of staff as it tells you what you need to do and when so we don’t miss things. This means there is less stress on us, the team, and our customers.”
What are your favourite features?
“I really like how the schedule works and how dynamic it is. I can allocate a big job in the Garage Hive schedule multiple times and over numerous days without having to create more than one jobsheet. I can add the allotted amount of time my tech will be working on it for on that day and have those hours of labour deducted from the total available for that day, this allows me to load my diary more accurately.”
“Another feature I like is the reminders within vehicle health checks & inspections. If we include advisories within the vehicle inspections, I can timestamp those advisories which then prompts me later via a red tile on Garage Hives home screen that I should call this customer to rebook them in and complete the work. Doing the work when needed rather than at the original booking is sometimes what is best for the customer.”
“The tiles on the home screen, it’s seriously like having an extra member of staff. As those tiles change colour, you know when you need to do something, it’s always prompting you on what you need to do next. It allows you to ensure that everything is done in a timely manner.”
“The NPS customer feedback surveys allow us to get direct feedback from customers which is powerful and very rewarding.”
"I love customer comments via the customer card - we use this all the time so that anyone who's booking in that customer can be made aware of anything that we need to know via a pop-up, whether they've complained before or if they need a courtesy car - This is so important because it helps us to build trust with customers as we took the time to personalise our approach."
What are the biggest changes have you noticed since switching over to Garage Hive?
“Essentially Garage Hive allows us to work smarter rather than harder. Before we focused on being efficient in the garage but now Garage Hive has made the workshop run in a much more streamlined way without impacting the bottom line. Backed up with the Garage Hive Power BI reports, we’ve been able to make decisions like moving to be specialists in certain vehicle brands (Jaguar & Ranger Rover). This has proved to us that specialising allows us to make more money per job.”
“Day-to-day running is smoother and less stressful. With our workload in the workshop, before we were always busy, and we already had efficient processes in place, but we always had more work on than we could get done in the same day which made the days more stressful. Now what we have found is that we still make the same amount of money but this is done in a more organised manner.”
"Allowing extra time in the diary for the jobs booked in enabled us to complete vehicle health checks which has helped average invoice profit increase month on month. Our average invoice profit sits at around £190, the highest month was £193.85 in April 2021. Back in November 2019 it was £168 so our average invoice profit has gone up by the best part £25 per invoice in 18 months. By increasing our average invoice profit we work on less vehicles and make the same money. Take November 2019 for example, we did 710 with a gross profit of 119.5K, we can now hit the same gross profit with 617 jobs, 93 less cars a month."
What is it that you want to do next?
“We want to do an extension at one of our sites to allow another MOT Bay. Once we’ve done that, we’re going to decide what we do from there and whether we want to expand further by getting the third garage.”
Why would you recommend Garage Hive to another garage owner?
"How adaptive and dynamic it is. The fact that it's effectively been built by garage owners and all the changes that have been suggested and then implemented have been by garage owners, rather than it being led by software developers telling us what we can and can't have."