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AM Awards 2000 - Bodyshop Sponsored by Thatcham

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Gold Brooklands Autobody
Silver Holdens Bodycentre
Bronze Taylors Vehicle Repair Centre

The judges were greatly impressed by the entry of Brooklands Autobody which carries away the gold award. The company's achievements include reducing the average repair lead time from three weeks to seven days.

The quality assessor from Carter & Carter reports: “Brooklands is totally focused on and committed to sustained and measured growth. “It would appear this is being achieved through the consistent delivery of quality repairs and customer delight. This is without doubt a company at the leading edge of the UK accident repair industry.”

Lincoln-based Brooklands Autobody recently opened a £1.5m bodyshop, expanding its covered floor area to 42 bays on a 1.5-acre site. The company has achieved 'recommended repairer' status with some of the UK's biggest car insurers.

Brooklands Autobody is impressive by virtue of a comprehensive plan for the next four years having proved itself through strict quality control and considerable determination.

Managing director Steve Brooks founded Brooklands with £100 as an independent bodyshop in 1979. “Since then we have moved premises three times in Lincoln,” he said. “Each has resulted in relatively big expansion – and each has brought challenges, because moving premises can be traumatic for a bodyshop. We have a strong team spirit and are confident about the future.”

Winning silver with a strong entry is Holdens Body Centre which is part of East Anglia's largest independent motor group. The business occupies modern premises on the edge of Norwich following a major investment in 1992.

Carter & Carter's assessor remarked on the commitment of the business to customer satisfaction and retention. “It recognised the drain on profits was a consequence of too much reliance on insurance approvals and the tight operating margins they expect network members to operate within,” says its report.

“Redirecting its commercial focus from the insurer network to the retail customer is clearly a positive step.” Following a major review of productivity by outside consultants in 1995, Holdens Body Centre made further capital investment, developed improved systems, added extra training and introduced a staff bonus scheme. General manager Leon Rose said: “We operate in a close-knit community where our reputation is paramount. The whole team believes in trying to do that little bit extra for our customers.”

Taylors Vehicle Repair Centre, winner of the bronze award, increased its turnover from £100,000 in 1996 to £450,000 last year. Husband and wife Paul and Tracey Taylor have developed a strategic plan for their business at Hull and are planning further growth.

Mr Taylor has 22 years' experience in automotive body repair and his wife (a graduate in business administrative management) joined the business in 1997. Taylors is dedicated to high levels of customer satisfaction and appointed a dedicated claims handling manager.

Carter & Carter's assessor reports: “The company is in touch with customer needs and is passionate about satisfying them. The continuing growth and ambition of Taylors demonstrates their success in achieving this objective. Taylors has adopted a multi-skilled recruitment policy and training programme which further demonstrates the company's commitment to gaining and retaining a competitive edge.”

Highly Commended
Dixon Motors' Car Clinics is a network of 11 branded vehicle repair centres all in central locations which are easy to find for retail customers. They are purpose-built developments or modern redevelopments to dispel the common perception of 'under the arches' repair sites, says the group. Open interiors have been designed to make customers feel comfortable.

Lancaster Sheffield's bodycentre, part of a Mercedes-Benz dealership, competes with other franchised repair centres and a host of independents. Opened 12 years ago, the business runs on a mix of commitment to management control and staff enthusiasm. Following the appointment of a new bodycentre manager, break-even has been turned into profit.

Perrys Motor Sales' bodyshop in Aylesbury, Bucks, is run by aftersales manager Brian Moore who has been credited with raising both the profile and profitability. Mr Moore joined Perrys last year and implemented his own operational template, developed from 20 years' experience in the trade.

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