Raising standards in MOT training and compliance, that’s the remit of The MOT Group, who set their standard higher than the expectations of DVSA to give MOT stations around the UK the best chance of success. Karena from The MOT Group gave us her time to answer our questions on this massively important sector.
Tell us about your business offering and your target customer
The MOT Training & Compliance Group Ltd provide training and support for MOT stations of all shapes and sizes. We offer:
· Level 2 IMI MOT Tester training (4 days)
· Level 3 IMI MOT Manager training (2 days)
· MOT Site Manager Refresher Course (1 day)
· Full Authorised Examiner Consultant Support
· MOT Site visits (with free MOT Compliance Folder)
· MOT Compliance Folder (online or physical versions)
· Annual tester training access codes and classroom sessions
· Support and advice
Tell me about your background and what made you want to start your own business. How did you first get involved with training?
After college, I had various secretarial jobs until I had a spell out of the full-time workplace to have my wonderful children. When I returned, I worked in retail and then in the accounts department of a large Mercedes dealership. By now, I had met Russell, my husband. He soon became my business partner when he persuaded me to join him to carry out a range of administrative and accountancy tasks for his business.
While doing that, a friend bought an MOT station and asked me to help set up systems and processes for him. Before I knew it, I was helping him run it pretty much full-time. That’s where my interest in the MOT process started.
When the DVSA decided to pass on the baton of MOT training to the various awarding bodies, we realised the garage had the space to provide such services. With the help of Russell, who has a training background, we became an IMI Affiliated training centre: delivering tester and manager training.
I was continuously asked about compliance issues and helped several independent garage owners set up and run their businesses. I also supported them throughout the entire MOT process, from set-up to DVSA compliance. I took my MOT Managers course, and when the DVSA created the Authorised Examiner Consultant position, it was as if they had created the position for me!
It has grown from there. We now have an MOT training centre in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, where we run tester, manager and annual CPD courses. My small but fantastic team has trained hundreds of testers and managers and visited hundreds of MOT sites … from the one-man bands and small and medium-sized dealerships to a leading dealership group. I love every single one of our clients; I enjoy the site visits, the advice and help I can give and the feeling of pride in knowing that I can make a difference.
What differentiates you from others in the space?
I think we differentiate from some by offering the human touch alongside our tech capabilities. We do site visits, go to our customers’ premises to conduct the training, and are at the end of the phone (or email!) to provide the support and advice that our current and, hopefully, new customers need. We are not necessarily unique; other companies offer similar services to us. But I know my entire team has the knowledge and passion necessary to support our customers. They really do care.
There are approximately 26,000 MOT stations in the UK, some won’t want or need help, but others may not know what help is out there or know how to access it. This is where we can help, and we won’t tie you into annual contracts. Whether it’s a bit of advice, some short-term help or a long-term relationship that’s needed, we are happy to be there for you. Not everyone offers that.
How are you navigating the current economic climate in 2022? What challenges have you faced so far?
2022 has been kind to us. We have helped many testers and managers qualify and complete annual training courses at either our training centre or our customers’ premises. By the end of 2022, we will have completed approximately 250 (we need to count them!) site visits. I really need to thank the office staff for their challenge in making up all those Compliance Folders!
What is the booking process for potential customers? How would a new customer book a course with you?
New customers generally come to us via email and phone. In the case of a phone call, we’ll discuss their requirements and timescales and how we can best help them achieve what they are looking for. In the case of an email, we will arrange a call to talk through their needs.
If it’s a qualification they’re looking for, it can be a simple process of sending them an application form and allocating them a spot on a convenient course. Other clients want a long-term action plan which we will work through with them. Not everyone wants the same, so we create a bespoke plan that suits them.
What areas of the country do you cover? How far do people travel to come to your courses?
We have clients all over the UK.
Who carries out the training, and what qualifications and experience do they have?
I’ve had a lot of responsibility for MOT systems and processes over my years working in a garage, so I have first-hand knowledge of how challenging an MOT station can be.
All our trainers are qualified and experienced in their field, and our MOT tester trainers are all experienced MOT testers with IMI Assessor qualifications. Russell and I also deliver MOT Manager courses and hold the IMI Award in MOT Test Centre Management too.
What advice can you give MOT stations that may be looking for new training providers?
Look for a training provider who is interested in more than getting you through your assessment. We are very aware that gaining a qualification is only the beginning; therefore, passing that exam, as important as that may be, is not our only focus when training.
We also try to prepare testers and managers to be able to do their job out there in the real world, and we always tell our candidates that if they ever need anything, our relationship is not over when they walk out of our door.
After a difficult couple of years for the industry, how is 2023 shaping up and is there anything we should look out for?
Everywhere we visit, there seems to be a shortage of technicians, MOT testers, and managers to manage the MOT process. Have a good look at your staffing levels: are your testers or managers likely to be retiring? Are you so busy that you may need a bigger team? Get yourself ready by getting your people the qualifications they need to help you.
Your company is also an IMDA member. Why did you join, and what is your offering to their members?
We joined because we saw some interesting articles on social media and wanted to be part of it. We know many members do not have MOT stations, but some have, and some might want more information about opening one or general advice. We are here for all of that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We offer a range of training and compliance support … hopefully, just about everything that garages need …but we may be wrong. So, my question would be: How can we help you?
If you have further questions then The MOT Group can help you. Get in touch with them over at their website http://themotgroup.co.uk