The Fixer continued this week on BBC 2 Scotland though suspect that my husband and I were in the minority watching it as most of the UK tuned into the Brits. For those who did though it had some great things to teach and remind you about running your own business. This week it was a mechanics garage in Salford.
Although the focus of the programme is on family run businesses. Unlike the previous programmes where there were family issues evident. This family was in the main working as a team. Yes the mother needed to open up and communicate more about the finances of the business and not take the burden on her own. And the baby of the family needed to take more responsibility. But compared to the other programmes they were a fairly united team despite the fact they supported Manchester City not United!
No the issues here were fundamental business issues which as ever Alex with her common sense business approach not only quickly grasped but made the family tackle head on.
Firstly Customer Service is so important. It is important for any business but for a small business competing against the big guns it is imperative and can be a unique selling point for your business. I was really impressed that Alex made them see it was no different from the hospitality industry by giving them a crash course in hospitality at Manchester City Football club. This really opened their eyes to the fact that they needed to wow each and every customer. A garage can be as much theatre as corporate hospitality at a football ground. And we can always learn so much from other businesses and not just in the sector that we are in.
Secondly first impressions count. So that means everything from how you answer the phone to how quickly you answer emails. And most importantly how your product looks. A garage is where you may need to spend an hour plus waiting for your car to be fixed. For most of us we are worrying about the car passing its Mot and or the costs on a breakdown or service. So if you are sitting in a dark dismal waiting room it just adds to the gloom doesn’t it? Alex didn’t ask them to spend lots of money but she did show that a lick of paint, some colour, nice seats and a very clear pricing structure on view would make a hige difference. Plus of course on tap tea and coffee would go along way to showing customers as they walked in that this company cared about their customers and their needs. It wasn’t flashy it was simple but it was clean and bright and showed a company that cared.
Finally the biggest gift that Alex gave this family was belief. In this current economy it is very hard to be a risk taker particularly if your business is in trouble. To take a chance in doing something different. But sometimes to stand out from the rest you need to try something new tread a path that others are not taking and have confidence in your own ideas. The family had realised that a core customer for them could be women drivers and that many women are not very good at changing oil, tyres etc. I speak as one so could totally relate to this. The business had come up with the brilliant idea of targeting women drivers and among other things running car maintenance courses. But due to various factors they had given up on the idea. Alex gave them the belief to go for this idea and they quickly saw there was a market for this. This showed me that sometimes we do have to go with our convictions. Research our idea, test the market and then before doubts set in go for it as if you know who your market is and that there is a requirement for your product nine times out of ten it will be successful.
Customer Service, Attention to detail and taking a researched risk much to learn from the Fixer. And the business didn’t have to spend a fortune in doing so but these simple lessons helpoed turn the business around. The Fixer food for thought. BBC2 9pm Tuesdays.