Tell us about your business Anne; when was it established, and what do you do?
Our business is R P Cherry & Sons, based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.
It was established in 1978 by my dad, Roger Cherry. Initially, it was just one small space – a bay. Over the years, the company grew, and in 2006 we took on the DAF franchise. We’re now a DAF service and maintenance agent specialising in heavy vehicles.
The MOT side of the business has been in operation since the early 80s. I’ve been a tester since 2015. We then realised we needed someone to take on the site manager role, and it was a choice of me, dad or my brother Roy. They chose me!
How are you navigating the current economic climate? What challenges have you faced so far?
So far, we’ve been swamped, and I would say our biggest issue is finding staff. Being a mechanic is hard work … long hours (and dirty!) … and fewer youngsters are choosing it as a job. But aside from that, we’re very fortunate as we’re in an enviable position where we have as much work as we can manage.
As a female in a male-orientated industry, what made you want to be part of the family firm?
I honestly don’t even think about it. I was told when I first started that as long as you’re good at what you do, that’s all that matters, and that advice has stuck with me.
Working in the motor trade is all I’ve ever known. I’m in my natural surroundings, so it was a done deal from the start! I did the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) at a Mercedes garage when I was 16 and stayed there until I was 28. Then dad said, “Why don’t you come and work here?” I wasn’t sure that was a good idea … being known as ‘the boss’s daughter’ etc. – and I would say I was pushed into it a bit at first, but I don’t regret it. I worked in the stores first, then filled various roles as people moved on, and now I’m the manager!
Why did you choose TMOTG when booking your manager training?
If I remember correctly, something hadn’t gone well with the last company we used. Karena happened to contact me at that time, and I told her to come and meet me … I figured if I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t use them! But I liked Karena straight away. She’s easygoing, down to earth – she gets on with the job and adapts to whatever is happening around her.
After meeting her, we asked her to come in and do our training and annual assessment; it was perfect for our needs. We’re all a bit nervous around computers, and we don’t like test situations … Karena made us feel at ease and gave us the confidence we needed.
When it was time to take on the site manager role, I knew The MOT Group would be the perfect choice to get me through the course.
How did you feel when you entered the classroom on that first day of manager training?
I hated the thought of doing it … I didn’t think it was my kind of thing. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and we got through it fairly easily because Karena broke it down into manageable, easy-to-digest sections aimed at people in the trade who are likely to be more hands-on than academic.
Some of the delegates on the course I attended had more challenging needs, and Karena dealt with them brilliantly. I remember one guy was so stressed that he and his wife had made several calls to Karena beforehand, saying he couldn’t go through with it. But he passed, and he was over the moon!
The great news is that I passed, too, and my score was much higher than I expected, which was amazing! It was such a positive environment; I would recommend The MOT Group to anyone who may feel nervous and think they can’t pass a test in a classroom environment.
Would you say the course gave you the confidence to do your role and do it well?
Definitely … I now feel confident that if DVSA visited, I would be happy to take them through everything and not be worried about our procedures.
Do you see training courses like this as a cost-effective solution to ensuring your team is qualified and well-prepared to be part of a busy site?
I would. Nobody likes to spend money, but on the courses where you come to us, it cuts down on the need for us all to travel and have one person training one day, another training on a different day – we all do it together, so it’s done and dusted. We can all talk with people we know and help each other along.
Would you recommend the training courses to other businesses?
I honestly couldn’t do my job if it weren’t for the excellent training from Karena and The MOT Group! I put into practice everything they taught me … and I make sure everything is as perfect as possible, so if we get an audit from DVSA, I have everything to hand. We hope they never stop doing what they do … we’d be doomed!
How is 2023 shaping up? Is there anything you’d like to share about what’s happening in your business in the coming year?
I think, like most businesses, our plan this year is to ‘hang in there’. We need to make sure we can get through the fallout of the energy price increases and possible recession and just keep doing what we’re doing as well as we can.