As one of four winners of a Community Activity Recognition (C.A.R) Award at the recent SMTA Awards, Scots Auto Scene is putting Anderson Clark Motor Repairs under the microscope to learn more about what it offers its customers and the local area
Since 1996, Anderson Clark Motor Repairs has been recognised as one of the best auto repair businesses in the north of Scotland. Based in Inverness, 2020 marks the firm’s 25th year in operation and it shows no sign of losing its touch as it continues to evolve in tandem with the fast- progressing motor trade. Garage owner Graham Clark spoke exclusively to Scots Auto Scene about what his business can do for its customers and the community it serves.
Cutting costs, not corners
Every business, no matter what field it operates in, has its own mantra and beliefs. Anderson Clark’s ‘cutting costs, not corners’ approach allows it to attract a wealth of custom as it strives to do things cheaper than franchise dealers but more cost effectively than other independent garages. “We carry out a variety of mechanical and diagnostic repair and maintenance services including MoTs, professional servicing, wheel alignment, engine diagnostics, brake repair, clutch repair and air conditioning,” Graham explained. “And this has been done to an award-winning standard, as Motor Trader magazine crowned us Garage of the Year in2016 and ’17.”
This is all testament to the direction Graham has led the business and the multi-skilled staff that are treated like true members of the family. Everyone has their own individual training plan tailored to their own personal needs and skilled which boosts morale and ensures maximum productivity. We hold accreditation for Investors in People and Investors in Young People, which is pretty unique in our industry at our level,” Graham added. “That shows our level of staff care and retention as the last time we actually replaced a member of staff was five years ago.”
A major milestone
March 2020 was a major milestone for Anderson Clark as it officially embarked upon its 25th year in business. Reaching this landmark in such a healthy state is no mean feat and that fact isn’t lost on Graham. “We set up Anderson Clark Motor Repairs with the view that we’d be making a living for ourselves; we spotted the chance to have the destiny in our own hands,” he said. “Twenty-four years ago I was sitting in my employer’s office handing in my resignation thinking ‘it might work, we’ll give it a go. I would hate to go through life thinking I wish I’d tried that.’ And thankfully it’s been a huge success story, but it could have been so much the other way, it could have been a total failure.” Naturally the industry has changed a lot since the business opened its doors in 1996. While the aim of providing customers with the most complete, reliable and timely service still remains, the manner in which this is achieved is very different nowadays. “When we started the business we didn’t even have a computer so that puts it into perspective,” Graham added. “I’m sitting in a building now where there’s probably 15 computers on site. The motor trade I entered 40 years ago, if somebody said you’d have a computer fixing a car one day I’d have said ‘don’t talk rubbish.’ And a technician’s toolbox is a totally different beast to what it was 25 years ago.”
Supporting the community
Anderson Clark does more for those in the Inverness area than just repair and fix their cars though; and has done so for years. The 2019 SMTA Annual Dinner and Awards marked the third separate occasion Anderson Clark was rewarded with an SMTA C.A.R Award for its tireless work for the community. This is all down to what Graham refers to as a “mindset” whereby at the start of each financial year, Anderson Clark sets aside a designated budget to be donated to local causes. And every single member of staff plays a significant role in dictating how that money is spent.
“More or less all of our turnover and profit is coming from local communities,” Graham explained. “We’ve got some national contracts in there but all the national contracts are driven by people who drive vehicles locally so in a roundabout way, it is only local customers if you like. So donating to local causes is just our way of giving a little bit back to the community. “We have a contingency fund for this,” he continued. “So as part of our budgeting we have a set figure put aside on annual basis for charitable, local donations. And every year we approach our staff and ask for some recommendations for what they would like us to do with it. They always come up with some fantastic ideas and on the whole it’s their decision making that drives us forward as well.” Some examples include donating a car to a local hospice and supporting a ‘Spokes for Folks’ scheme that got pensioners out on bike rides for a cycle around the town which proved to provoke old memories among some of them who were suffering with dementia.
In the instance of the hospice, Anderson Clark bought a brand-new car and gave it to the hospice but the actual effect this action had snowballed dramatically. The hospice raffled tickets for somebody to win the car, and eventually trebled the worth of the original donation from Anderson Clark marking a huge success for all involved. Graham views these deeds as tokens of appreciation rather than sources of recognition. “Let’s imagine we cut these donations out of the budget. Would that change our business? Would it make customers stop coming to us? I don’t think it would make any difference to the customers coming to us,” he said.
“But it’s just our way of giving that little bit back to the community and I’m not doing it for great reward or people to see what a great guy Graham Clark is, that’s now what it’s about. It’s only fair that we’re giving something back when we are in a position to and it’s being injected back into the community that gives us so much. And in the greater scheme of things in terms of our turnover it’s a very small percentage of it, so it’s a total no brainer.”
For all your vehicular needs in the Inverness area, visit Anderson Clark today and benefit from their friendly service, quality of work and a superb fleet of loan vehicles available to make the entire process as smooth as possible for the customer. For more information: 01463 222324 or www.andersonclark.co.uk