Avia Autos crowned Garage of the Year 2019

Automechanika Birmingham evening event celebrated examples of excellence among UK independents

Avia Autos in Bridgend has been named Garage of the Year at this year’s awards ceremony held at the National Motorcylce Museum this week.

Collecting the Garage of the Year award and £1,000 cash prize, Hayley Pells described the moment as a complete shock.

She said: “I was listening to all of the categories, waiting in anticipation and thinking that we might stand a small chance of winning one of these but I certainly didn’t expect to win the overall award.”

Garage of the Year 2019 award winners

  • Community Initiative, sponsored by Gallagher: Sufari at Newberry Road Garage
  • Training and Standards, sponsored by ZF: Community Motors CIC
  • Automechanik, sponsored by Automechanika: Matthew Pestridge, D&D Autos
  • Business Innovation, sponsored by TechMan: Cleevely Motors
  • Tech Innovation, sponsored by EDT: AAK
  • Outstanding Achievement, sponsored by Delphi: Bee Cool ACS
  • Garage Owner, sponsored by Launch UK: Lorraine Amor
  • Best Small Garage, sponsored by The Parts Alliance: Performance 3000 (South), Brian Swales (North)
  • Best Large Garage, sponsored by Autologic: Jackson & Phillips (South), Chelt. & Glos Autocentre (North)
  • Garage of the Year: Avia Autos

This year’s competition featured a total of nine categories.

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) were the main sponsor once again whilst Autologic, The Parts Alliance, Delphi Technologies, ZF, Gallagher, Launch UK, EDT Automotive and Techman all supported categories.

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Schaeffler hails ‘best ever’ Automechanika Birmingham

Exhibition stand offered visitors a glimpse at the ‘garage of tomorrow’

The stand, located in the OESAA village, featured a striking workshop setting with a Schaeffler BMW M4 DTM car, plus augmented and mixed reality exhibits.

According to Schaeffler, it grabbed the attention of technicians and distributors alike, with feedback from visitors overwhelmingly positive.

Because there was so much for visitors to see and do, the stand was constantly busy across all three days, with Schaeffler UK Aftermarket marketing and communications manager, Jeff Earl, describing it as “one of the most exciting, interactive and innovative visitor experiences we have ever produced”.

Visitors took full advantage of the high-tech exhibits, which allowed technicians to get up close-and-personal with a technical ‘helpline’ of the future.

Wearing goggles, which relayed heads-up instructions, technicians were able to carry out a simulated timing chain replacement using real tools and components, or learn about the inner workings of a dual mass flywheel.

They were designed to show how repairs could be made easier and quicker in the future, utilising support from the likes of Schaeffler, with its interactive, live and online instructions.

Switching to augmented reality, visitors were able to use an iPad to scan each individual component of a complete FAG chassis system, breaking down and exploring each single part using images and videos, as well as giving lots of hints and tips.

One of the visiting technicians, the manager of a new start-up business, said: “We’re already purchasing a lot of Schaeffler equipment from a local distributor, and it’s nice to be able to come onto the stand and have a chat with the REPXPERTs and discover more about the products and what they’ve got planned for the future.”

Another technician from an independent workshop added: “Schaeffler is always developing innovative ideas, so it’s useful to see what the latest developments are.

“As an independent workshop, we don’t always see these products until two or three years down the line.

“It’s important we futureproof our business; we need to keep up-to-date with the times and adapt with them, rather than be left behind.”

Automechanika Birmingham 2019 was also the perfect platform for Schaeffler to launch the REPXPERT app.

Designed to make it simpler and quicker for members to access the online portal, REPXPERTs can now source part numbers and product details for all Schaeffler repair solutions, as well as being able to access invaluable technical data – all from the palm of their hands.

Meanwhile, around 300 Schaeffler VIPs were treated to an informative presentation and audio tour, followed by lunch on the stand, before taking away an exclusive REPXPERT technician’s messenger bag.

Another 300 REPXPERT VIPs also enjoyed lunch and a goody bag, before many of them took the opportunity to enter the INA Torque Challenge competition.

Schaeffler gave away eight torque wrenches every day to technicians that performed the best after learning about the importance of using correct torque settings.

Finally, Edd China visited the stand on Wednesday and Thursday to sign his new book, Grease Junkie.

For more information on REPXPERT, please click here.

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Automechanika Birmingham 2019 attracts highest ever visitor attendance

12,145 automotive industry professionals visited the hugely successful 2019 event

Organiser says the event delivered on its promise of bringing the entire UK automotive industry together against a backdrop of innovation, technology and networking.

Feedback from exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive and, as a result, 87 percent of space has been reserved for 2021 where exhibitors include: Schaeffler, ZF, Valeo, NGK, HELLA, Delphi, Denso, BM Catalysts, Mann Hummel and YUASA.

Martyn Houghton, senior manager IAM at ZF Aftermarket, said: “Automechanika Birmingham was a resounding success for us.

“Must-attend exhibition”

“The event has now established itself as the “must-attend” exhibition for motor factors and garages in the UK automotive aftermarket.

“We could positively engage with a high-quality visitor and promote our extensive portfolio of brands, products and new technologies.

“We are already working on plans to engage with visitors for Automechanika Birmingham 2021.”

Nigel Morgan, managing director of Schaeffler UK’s Aftermarket division, said: “We had a packed schedule of top training, interactive exhibits and special guests over the three days and our stand was busy throughout, engaging fully with visitors on how we continue to innovate the automotive aftermarket and work with them to support their business.

“As Schaeffler always delivers one of the most exciting and innovative stands at the event, we are already looking forward to Automechanika Birmingham 2021.”

From extensive research carried out by event organisers Messe Frankfurt UK, it was clear that the market demanded a focussed event for the UK independent garage sector.

As a result, the launch of The Big UK Garage Event led to the highest number of independent garages and bodyshops attending an Automechanika Birmingham event.

Key decision makers and owners

The Big UK Garage Event attracted key decision makers and owners, who benefitted from an enhanced Seminar Programme offering free CPD technical training and the largest selection of exclusive giveaways, discounts, prizes and deals worth over £26,000.

Jack Halliday, Automechanika Birmingham event director, said: “This has been the best attended Automechanika Birmingham to date.

“Working with exhibitors, we have strived to offer visitors across the entire automotive industry an experience that supports the running of their businesses and one that they will continue to benefit from in the future.

“The event in 2021 is already shaping up to be another fantastic showcase for the automotive industry.”

With an improved visitor layout, Automechanika Birmingham featured over 500 exhibitors from 21 countries. 120 companies exhibited at Automechanika Birmingham for the first time.

There was also an abundance of well-known faces at this year’s show, with celebrity appearances from Lord Sebastian Coe, Guy Martin, Nicholas Hamilton, Edd China and some of British Touring Car Championship’s (BTCC) top drivers.

For the automotive aftermarket, the new Aftermarket Power Network event brought together the most influential leaders across the full breadth of the UK automotive aftermarket, as Lord Coe joined the launch event to address and network with leading industry peers.

The Aftermarket Hall featured the Retail Accessories Village, Bodyshop Zone and the debut of the Automechanika Body & Paint World Championships. Returning for the second year, Automechanika Connect provided the ultimate match-making tool, allowing visitors the opportunity to pre-plan meetings with exhibitors to maximise their time.

With new product launches dominating the Aftermarket hall, along with announcements of key distribution agreements signed between companies, the event offered more than 100 hours of training seminars and debates, hosting industry experts who delivered sessions covering daily workplace challenges, industry developments and advanced technology.

Returning for another year, the Vehicle Production hall hosted the increasingly successful “Meet the Buyer” and “Open Forum” events, hosted by SMMT.

The events were successful in bringing together automotive buyers and suppliers to build relationships between OEMs, tier one suppliers and the supply chain.

Automechanika Birmingham will return to the NEC on 8 to 10 June 2021.

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New Garage Wire survey to snapshot state of business for independent garages

Take part in this short survey to give a ‘snapshot’ of the state of the aftermarket

Garage Wire has launched a new ‘state of the aftermarket’ survey aimed at finding how business is for independent garages.

A simple structure asks garages to rate business now compared to six months ago and to estimate how business will be six months in the future.

The answers for range from ‘much worse’ to ‘much better’ enabling a simple average to be taken on garages’ perception of how things are now compared to previously and how optimistic they are about the future.

“The reaction of the independent aftermarket to wider economic trends has always been complex,” said managing director James Onions.

“The feeling now seems to be that consumers are nervous about the UK economy and their personal finances may be under pressure but then driving is absolutely essential for many people too.”

Historically the aftermarket has proved relatively immune to fluctuations in the economy.

Whilst downturns dramatically effect new car sales, independent garages and the wider supply chain have been seen to benefit as drivers’ hold onto cars longer, incurring more maintenance needs and turn to independents in great number to service older cars and to save money over franchised dealers.

“The big difference this time is probably Brexit uncertainty,” added James.

“There’s a lull now in media coverage but many motorists may be reluctant to spend or apprehensive about the future.”

The survey can be completed in 5 minutes by following the ‘More Details’ button below.

The aim is to take the temperature of the market at six month intervals. Results will be shared in the near future.

Take part in the survey now.

Garagewire

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Croydon garage adopts board of shame to deal with non-paying customers

Garage Wire reports Fiat 500 owner currently named and shamed after failing to pay bill for clutch and master cylinder replacement

MOTaPlus Ltd in Croydon has taken to naming and shaming non-paying customers by writing their name and vehicle details on a white board located outside the workshop for all to see.

Garage owner, Gary Pritchard told GW that he adopted the board “out of principle” after helping a customer only for them to bounce a cheque for a £40 MOT.

“Put it up out of principle”

He said: “I first put it up out of principle after a customer came in for an MOT following a recommendation.

“She called us up, desperate for a test because she didn’t have an MOT but it was a Saturday and we were fully booked up.

“To help her out though, we told her to come down and we’d get it done to get her out of trouble.

“We MOTd the car and it failed on a couple of bulbs and a few other small bits, which we put right and didn’t even charge her for it.

“She wrote a £40 cheque out for the MOT and off she went.

“A couple of weeks later, we noticed the cheque didn’t go through and after looking into it I found out that she parked around the corner and stopped the cheque.

“From there on, the board has stayed up.”

Amuses genuine customers

Gary says the board has gone down well among his genuine customers, with many finding it amusing and even taking photos of it.

He added: “I’ve not had many on there at all and those that have been on there have had plenty of warning.

“It’s all about embarrassment.

“I trust everyone on face value and if they fail to pay I’d rather just embarrass them and warn other garages around here.

“It’s not about the money, it’s the principle.”

Currently the owner of a white Fiat 500 features on the board of shame after failing to pay two bills for a clutch and a master cylinder.

Gary said: “The lady that’s on there at the moment is local.

“I’d rather embarrass her than waste my time chasing”

“I know where she lives and I could go and knock on her door but I’d rather embarrass her than waste my time chasing her.

“We fitted a new clutch and we told her it had a fault on the slave and master cylinder but she didn’t want it repaired at the time.

“Of course, that soon failed but we put it right for her.”

The lady in question had already made a couple of payments towards her initial bill for the clutch replacement and made one more following the later repair but has since failed to make any further payment.

How do you deal non-paying customers? Share your comments and experiences below.

Garagewire

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

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REPXPERT INA and FAG training day gets 10/10 rating

Course covered INA belt system and FAG wheel bearing technology best practice, installation and problem diagnosis

Schaeffler’s latest training day at the REPXPERT Academy in Hereford has been rated ‘10 out of 10’ by one of the attending technicians.

Members were given some practical demonstrations before being set a number of tasks by REPXPERTs Tim Adams and Andrew Vaux.

One invaluable session was how to accurately install an INA timing belt tensioner on either a VAG 1.9-litre or 2.0-litre TDi, using the INA-designed stud alignment tool to help avoid potentially expensive belt system failures.

Tim and Andrew also showed the group how to change the timing belt on a Ford 1.8TDCi, illustrating how using best practice can help avoid system failure.

The pair revealed that the method can also be applied to Vauxhall, Honda, Renault, VAG, Range Rover and Iveco applications.

The delegates were also presented with INA front end auxiliary drive (FEAD) systems, incorporating multi-ribbed belts, overrunning alternator pulleys (OAP) and overrunning alternator decouplers (OAD), as well as the INA crankshaft pulley decoupler fitted to BMW, Volvo and Vauxhall applications.

Another aspect of the training was an analysis of different timing drive configurations, as well as the latest intelligent water pump designs and thermal management technology.

Switching to FAG, the REPXPERTs gave practical demonstrations of the Hub 2.1 (Gen.2) wheel bearing, showing how to use the special tools that are required to guarantee a safe and correct installation.

There was also a presentation about wheel bearing evolution, and how this humble part has evolved to help to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

One of the attending technicians, Gary Butler-Holmes, said: “I learnt a lot, and the course refreshed my memory on key factors.

“Highly regarded by all technicians – a 10 out of 10 from me.”

John Hall added: “The two presenters certainly had a wealth of knowledge between them on the subjects and were more than willing to get stuck in.

“They not only discussed the topics but demonstrated them as well.”

David Painter said: “I do like to have a full understanding of what tasks I am giving my staff, so we can try to avoid making expensive mistakes.

“What was of particular interest to me was the VAG stud tool and the FEAD drive with OAPs.”

Automechanika Birmingham

Schaeffler will be exhibiting at Automechanika Birmingham 2019 between the 4th and 6th June (19S140), and amongst the augmented and mixed reality exhibits, which will offer visitors the chance to experience the ‘garage of the future’, a series of new training dates will be announced.

As well as the popular INA and FAG module, there will be several new sessions that focus on LuK double clutches, which proved successful throughout 2018 and the early part of this year.

All these workouts are designed to prepare technicians for work entering their workshop now and in the future.

For further information about REPXPERT, please click here.

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Don’t miss your chance to be a ‘Garage of the Year’

The industry will gather 5th June to celebrate the achievements of independent garages across nine categories. Don’t miss your chance to win by taking a few minutes to enter – but hurry, there’s only a week to go before entries close…

Automechanika Birmingham’s ‘Garage of the Year’ awards are being hosted in association with Garage Wire at the National Motorcycle Museum on the 5th June. The deadline for entries has been extended until Sunday 5th May.

Sponsored by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) the competition is open to garages from across the UK and Ireland.

It takes just a few minutes to enter as many of the nine
sub-categories as garages want to, with the overall winner once again set to
receive £1,000.

All garages shortlisted in one or more categories will get two free tickets for the awards drinks and dinner at the National Motorcycle Museum. Located little more than a stone’s throw from the NEC, and with the awards event running from 7pm, it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of independent garage excellence either before or after a daytime visit to Automechanika Birmingham.

The Parts Alliance are again sponsoring the ‘Best Small Garage’ category. Other categories include ‘Best Large Garage’, ‘Commitment to Training and Standards’, ‘Garage Owner of the Year’, ‘Outstanding Achievement’, ‘Auto-Mechanik’, ‘Best Community Initiative’, ‘Business Innovation’ and ‘Technical Innovation’

“We’re excited to be involved again,” said Simon Moore, Head of Marketing at The Parts Alliance. “We’re hoping lots of our garage customers, particularly those around Birmingham, will get involved and enter as it promises to be a great which will help showcase all the great work independent garages do as unsung heroes for UK motorists.”

Automechanika’s Garage of the Year awards forms part of the Big UK Garage Event at this year’s Automechanika Birmingham. This will include exclusive show offers, big giveaways, competitions and some celebrity appearances. The event gives access to over 500 leading suppliers.

Garages will also receive free parking and free breakfast on arrival for their workforce.

Entries can be made online now.

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Watch: ‘Ground-breaking’ DPF cleaner granted patent as motorists saved millions in replacement parts

Patent-approved Vetech DPF Professional Cleaner to prevent inferior copycats being bought or sold anywhere in UK

The Parts Alliance has confirmed that a design patent has been granted for Vetech’s ground-breaking DPF Professional Cleaner, which to-date has treated over 100,000 DPFs and saved motorists millions in replacement parts.

The patent means other ‘copy-cat’ DPF cleaning products can no longer be legitimately bought or sold in the UK.

Vetech’s DPF Professional Cleaner is applied after removing the DPF from the vehicle.

It’s then filled with the cleaner which breaks down and loosens the diesel residues that can contaminate and block the filters, leaving them to simply be rinsed away.

The pour-in liquid has been shown to remove all visible dirt, soot and ash trapped in the filter cores, returning DPFs to over 95 per cent of their ‘as new’ capacity.

Since launched in 2015, the product has been a strong seller for The Parts Alliance, making the decision to invest in legal advice to secure design protection rights relatively straightforward.

Changing the landscape of DPF cleaning solutions

John Wright, product marketing director at The Parts Alliance, explained: “This product really has changed the landscape of DPF cleaning solutions.

“We feel there’s a responsibility as the trail-blazers to ensure garages avoid inferior copy products claiming to perform the same job.

“It is unparalleled in its effectiveness; we simply don’t hear cases where it hasn’t worked – often drivers will have tried numerous other treatments before finding ours actually works.

Tech making life easier for garages

“Unfortunately, as word spread and sales increased, it was only a matter of time before attempts were made to bring sub-standard alternatives to the market and this patent will help to rid the market of the imitators.”

Before The Parts Alliance launched Vetech DPF Professional Cleaner, garages relied heavily on either pour-in or machine-based treatments.

This cleaner requires no new garage equipment and has been proven to completely clean DPFs restoring ‘as new’ performance levels.

For more information or to order, please contact your local branch of The Parts Alliance here.

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Number of MOT testers struck off increases by 82 per cent

178 testers were banned from testing in 2017/18 as quality of inspections declared not ‘as good as it could be’

The number of MOT testers who have been struck off in the UK has dramatically increased with 82 per cent more testers banned in the 2017/18 financial year compared with 2015/16.

Experts say dodgy testers could be issuing fake MOTs to written-off cars that should be scrapped, which has been met with swift action from the DVSA.

The organisation said it would contact the owners of the vehicles affected by a recent testing scandal in Devon, which led to more than 300 fraudulent certificates being issued alone, and would also open a proceeds-of-crime investigation to determine if any money earned by the fraud from the dodgy MOT tests could be recouped.

Some 178 nominated MOT testers previously authorised by the DVSA were struck off in 2017/18, up from 98 in 2015/16.

Banned examiners rising too

41 per cent more authorised examiners, who oversee testing stations, had their status withdrawn over the same period.

Testers can be warned or banned for issuing fraudulent certificates, as well as improper or careless testing.

AA president Edmund King said: “While most MOT inspectors do a great job, the rise in inspectors being struck off is worrying.”

King highlighted the essential role the MOT test plays in vehicle safety, and said that cars should never pass an MOT because they have been “fraudulently ticked through as a favour for a friend”.

He added: “The wider concern is that written-off vehicles could have entered into the second-hand car market, when all they were really good for was scrap.”

DVSA spending more on enforcement

Jim Punter, editor of MOT Testing magazine, believes the number of improper testers caught by the DVSA is related to how much the agency spends on enforcement. He said: “The DVSA’s own analysis shows the average quality of MOT inspections isn’t as good as it could be.

“But the number of testers and testing stations taken out of the MOT scheme each year isn’t a reliable measure of the quality of MOT testing.

“It’s more to do with the amount of money DVSA spends rooting out bad testing, and encouraging honest testers and testing stations to do better.”

Neil Barlow, the DVSA’s head of vehicle engineering, said: “Using intelligence and enforcement, we are taking action against testers who put people’s lives at risk.”

Do you think the quality of enforcement is leading to more fraudulent testers being banned? Is this good for the industry? Let us know in the comments

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Servicesure Autocentre of the Year Award winner announced

M M Autos named Servicesure’s ‘Autocentre of the Year’ at eagerly anticipated evening ceremony

Servicesure has named M M Auto Services Ltd in Dundee as its ‘Autocentre of the Year’ during an exclusive awards evening which took place at Coombe Abbey on Thursday 11 April.

Launched last year, the competition was created to shine a light on best practice and performance from within the Servicesure Autocentre network.

Around 80 guests – comprising of garage winners, sponsors and managers from The Parts Alliance – were in attendance, dining on a three-course meal as the winners were announced.

As the attendees dined, new president and COO Neil Croxson spoke on the development of The Parts Alliance, before handing over to Paul Dineen, head of garage programmes, to present the awards.

Speaking at the event, Paul said: “Tonight’s winners are a real credit to the Servicesure network, and it’s a pleasure to be able to pay tribute to your professionalism and hard work.

“The network continues to expand rapidly: in October 2018, Manor Motor Company became the 500th member, and numbers have since risen to 540 garages.

Exciting time for garages

“It’s an exciting time for the business, and it’s reassuring to know that we have garages in our network setting such a high standard.”

Each shortlisted garage was recognised for their excellence during the ceremony: Burntwood Auto Centre received the ‘Best Newcomer’ award and Simon Graeme Auto Service Centre took home The Motor Ombudsman’s ‘Customer Service’ trophy, while Lowgate Garage, Chester Auto Services, Gordon’s Garage and A1 Motorist Centre were the winners in their respective regions.

After earlier awarding garage owner Murdo MacIntosh with the ‘Winner for Scotland’ prize, the judges also named M M Auto Services Ltd as the ‘National Winner’ for 2019.

Taking to the stage, a delighted Murdo thanked his hard working staff and loyal customers, as well as paying tribute to Duncan Davidson and Dingbro for their continued support.

The awards were sponsored by a number of Servicesure partners including Bollington Insurance, The Motor Ombudsman, Autotech Recruit, Auto Service Finance, Garage Services Online, Slicker Recycling and Our Virtual Academy.

To find out more about becoming a member of the fast-growing Servicesure network, please click here.

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