October 8, 2020

5 minute interviews

Andy Oldknow, works as the Sales Manager at TPS Derby. We chat to him about how a difficult decision made during lockdown has proved rewarding, both on a personal and professional level.

Tell us about your lockdown experience and how you coped with it?

During lockdown I made the tough decision to spend eleven weeks away from home.

My partner works in a care home that had locked down early and put very strict procedures in place to prevent the spread of the virus, so it was the best way to minimise the risk.

It was the right choice, as so far no cases have occurred at my partner’s care home. Another big positive for us personally, was after 15 years together we are finally going to get married next year.

At TPS Derby, everyone worked throughout lockdown and the attitude was great.

We were all one big team doing everything we could to keep people moving during unprecedented times. It was a spirit shared by our customers and it has helped everyone become closer and stronger than ever before.

What are you doing to keep your staff and customers safe during the current crisis?

Like every other TPS Centre, we have made all our sales contact-free, orders are prepaid on card for delivery or collection, and collections are arranged on an appointment basis.

We have converted more customers onto credit accounts and all staff use PPE when required.

There are also one-way systems now throughout the building, including the canteen, and social distancing is always observed.

As we emerge from the lockdown, how is business and what is TPS doing to help support customers?

Since lockdown we are consistently moving forward week-on-week, month-on-month. Our customers are still cautious and are not spending at the levels they would normally, but overall confidence is gradually returning.

The service and support provided during lockdown has been second to none, and as a result we have gained new customers, which has been a boost to the business.

What needs to happen for garages and the aftermarket sector to enjoy a full recovery?

TPS has remained a constant throughout for all our customers. I am sure we have built stronger relationships with our existing customer base, and got less frequent spenders buying more from us.

A full recovery is showing signs of happening and we remain committed to keeping the momentum up for our customers.

Adrian Browne is Managing Director of the Thrumpton Motor Company, based in Retford, Nottinghamshire. We chatted to Adrian about life during lockdown, keeping staff and customers safe and the road to business recovery.

Tell us about your lockdown experience and how you coped with it?

It was very hard not being able to visit family and with my wife being a nurse, it was also very stressful. Within the business, we initially furloughed staff but gradually brought them back to work in May.

We have followed Government guidelines throughout and despite the restrictions, we have been very fortunate in not having to make any redundancies within the team.

What are you doing to keep your staff and customers safe during the current crisis?

We have hand sanitiser stations on-site, signage in place as per government guidelines, and social distancing implemented throughout the business.

The staff always wear gloves, which are changed for each job. We also have disposable seat covers and steering wheel covers used for each separate vehicle we work on.

As we emerge from the lockdown, how is business and what is TPS doing to help support customers?

We have found that customer confidence is returning and business is gradually getting back to last years’ levels, with July and August being particularly busy. We have received a good service throughout from TPS and it has helped us a lot in getting customers’ cars back on the road.

What needs to happen for garages and the aftermarket sector to enjoy a full recovery?

We need to ensure all staff and customers are continually kept safe, and extremely high levels of sanitisation are key to this when carrying out our duties. It’s an important part of maintaining the excellent levels of service we are known for.

TPS Hereford’s Van Driver team - Adam Belton, Bev Maxwell and Sue Steele – have been consistently delivering for customers and colleagues during the COVID-19 crisis. They talk about their lockdown experiences and how they are literally helping to drive the recovery.

Tell us about your lockdown experience and how you coped with it?

Adam: I was asked to stay at work to help keep the business running the best we could for our customers. I was unsure at first, given the potential risks involved.

However, I was soon reassured as we were provided with everything we needed to keep ourselves protected. The Centre Manager would regularly check we had enough equipment and if we didn’t, would source what we required.

What are you doing to keep your staff and customers safe during the current crisis?

Bev: For staff, we are making sure face masks are worn, social distancing is adhered to and PPE is worn where necessary.

For customers, this includes wearing face masks where appropriate, social distancing and checking they are happy for us to enter their premises on arrival.

As we emerge from the lockdown, how is business and what is TPS doing to help support customers?

Sue: Business is certainly starting to pick back up again, with people starting to feel more confident in going back to work and taking their cars back to their garage.

Adam: During lockdown we dealt with a lot of customers who we don’t normally see day to day. The word was getting around we were providing the best service out there and it certainly helped drive customers to us.

Business has started to level off a bit more now in terms of new customers, but our ‘normal’ customers are coming back stronger and more organised, so everything overall is getting a lot better.

What needs to happen for garages and the aftermarket sector to enjoy a full recovery?

Bev: We are already seeing an increase in business over the last few weeks, which is a good sign for the future. What we need to avoid is any further lockdowns where possible, so that the positive effects we are experiencing now are not reversed again.