￼Mechanics from over 60 garages in the south of England have taken part in Gates Technical Workshop experiences, organised by a Dorset motor factor. PMF goes behind the scenes to see how the sessions have been received.
Dorset Autospares, based in Wimborne near Bournemouth, has 13 branches spread across the south west. Recently, its branches in Blandford, Isle of Wight and Poole have hosted separate Gates training events, at hotels or sporting venues, for their garage customers. The invitation-only events drew in garage proprietors and mechanics from across the region.
Gates says that members of its Technical Training and Support Team are on hand to deliver the technical training to mechanics from garages, personally invited by motor factors.
Dorset Autospares Garage Equipment and Technical Sales Manager, Andy Bastable, said: “We have run three Gates technical workshops so far and we are planning others later in the year. More than anything, they help to keep our customers in touch with what’s going on and that’s important for the future of our business.
“They are all experienced mechanics but if they can leave having learned something new, or even be reminded of something they’ve forgotten, their business enjoys the benefit and so does ours.”
During the sessions, the common reasons why drive systems fail prematurely were discussed in some detail. “Installer error, commonly caused by failure to follow the correct installation data and the use of inappropriate tools are way out in front”, says Gates. Because of this, the company issues fitting instructions inside the box, as well as online technical support, which is available from www.GatesTechZone.com to benefit technicians, and factor counter staff trying to make a sale.
Timing belt maintenance issues on some of the most common vehicles on garage job cards were also high on the agenda. Questions were answered about the construction of belts and tensioners. This led into a discussion about the warranty system that exists to support the Gates brand and the quality controls in place that add to its integrity.
Strong feedback means that garages from the Eastern areas will be invited to events later in the year, says Andy Bastable. “It’s good to be able to show garages that there is a close relationship between the parts manufacturer and the motor factor. It’s reassuring for them to be aware of the technical support that we can call on whenever there is an issue.
“Customer relationships were improved as some staff and customers made face-to- face contact for the first time. We also sold over 80 different technical tools on the night, with more follow-up sales since. The technical message certainly got through.” Andy concluded.
What is the garage view?
“I learned some interesting things about belt contamination and about how belts respond differently when they are exposed to coolant.”
Ben Arnold, Fairview Vehicle Services, Shaftesbury in Dorset
“It was nice to attend an informal evening and it was good to talk to the Gates training specialist, mix with mechanics from other garages and learn about the availability of some specialist drive system tools.”
Del McElhinney, Alpha Cars, Isle of Wight
“I’m nearly 50 and I’ve been working with cars for quite a few years now and I still learned a few things.”
Tony Hillier, Proprietor at Hillier’s MOT & Garages Services, Isle of Wight