Oil engineer turned vehicle repairer celebrates start-up success

After securing a coveted award shortlist and achieving rapid financial growth, a former petroleum engineer’s decision to launch a vehicle repair franchise has paid dividends

After being recognised by an esteemed awarding body and achieving record financial growth, a Canadian expat’s decision to swap a high-flying career in the oil industry in favour of launching a vehicle bodywork repair franchise in Scotland has proven to be a ‘SMART’ decision.

The meteoric financial growth of Tom Giles’ SMART (small-to-medium-repair-technique) vehicle repair business, Revive! Auto Innovations Aberdeen, has caught the attention of the Scotland FSB Small Business Awards judges in the highly-competitive Start-Up Business of the Year category.

The business generated impressive revenues of over £220,000 in 2022, just one year after launching during the COVID-19 pandemic in March of the previous year. Impressively, this represents a growth of 94 per cent from its 2021 takings, and makes the business the second fastest-growing branch in Revive!’s 47 strong UK-wide franchise network.

Tom commented: “After all our hard work over the last couple of years, it’s an honour to be recognised by the FSB in such a sought-after category, and we’re really looking forward to finding out the judges’ final decision on 8 March. The recognition only motivates us to grow our business further and continue to offer mobile vehicle repairs to the highest standard for Aberdonian motorists.

“Having worked as a petroleum engineer for three decades, little can prepare you for such a significant career change, as well as becoming a business owner. However, after our success during the early stages of the business, the team and I are keen to see just how far we can grow.”

With Revive! Aberdeen predominantly operating on a mobile basis, Tom attributes the team’s success to a customer-first approach. Indeed, the team conduct repairs at the customer’s home or place of work – meaning they do not have to take time out of their day to drop their vehicle off and pick it back up from a bodyshop. The team’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, having amassed 212 TrustPilot reviews in just two years, with 98 per cent (208) rated as 5-stars (excellent), and 2 per cent 4-stars (very good).

But the business’ rise to success has been far from been plain sailing – with the Scottish weather, of all things, being a major obstacle during the firm’s first winter in operation. In the winter of 2021, the challenging weather conditions meant that takings reduced by 59 per cent when compared to earnings from the highly profitable summer. This prompted Tom to act decisively by establishing a ‘rapid repair centre’, situated in the outskirts of the city.

By the time winter came back around the following year, Tom and the team were prepared to fight against the elements by taking the vehicles to the relative cover of the repair centre – enabling takings in November and December 2022 to double compared to 2021.

Tom concluded: “Having come from Alberta, Canada in 2001 and working on oil rigs for much of my career, I’m no stranger to bad weather – but, believe me, the Scottish winters can often be just as unforgiving.

“We, as a team, have faced many obstacles over the last few years, but we have adapted to weather the storm – in some cases quite literally! In spite of the challenges, Aberdeen has been a fantastic place to start a mobile vehicle repair business, as we have been able to serve rural communities across the region who are looking for an alternative to leaving their vehicle at a traditional bodyshop.”

The winners of the FSB Scotland Start-Up Business of the Year 2023 will be announced at a ceremony at the voco Grand Central Glasgow on Wednesday 8 March 2023.

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