As you probably know, in April 2005 SJ Baxter Motor Engineers opened a workshop in the back streets of Huddersfield. From day one we had 3 weeks worth of work and that lead time has not altered in 12 years.
What we have found in the last 12 years is that customers come back, a lot.
Obviously if you have a lot of repeat custom and a long lead time (3 months it has been at some points!) then new customers coming along adding to the workload only makes the waiting time longer.
We are dealing daily with old vehicles, with the best will in the world and our experience over the last decade it has taught us that the unexpected happens and what starts off as a simple job turns into a can of worms. What is booked in for a simple service usually turns into a lot lot more.
Vehicles have been coming, we're finding more and more that need serious amounts of work and with no slack in the system if a job goes awry then it has a knock on effect to all the other people who have waited 3 months to get a day in the workshop. We don't tend to work like other workshops, we have a limited amount of space, you book a day, we use that day, the van goes away, that's it. We know a lot of VW garages tend to work on the "just drop it off and we'll fix it when we can be bothered" principle, usually leading to heated arguments with missed holidays and such, the only vehicles left here under that understanding are ones where the job was worse than anticipated and it's simply not safe or legal to let the van go, the job is worked in and amongst the other work and finished as soon as possible.
We're not that interested in taking any more workshop staff on, people come here because of our knowledge and experience with T3 and T4, to get another mechanic and go through the whole process again is time we simply don't have.
So, something has to give!
At the start of 2017 we took the decision to stop taking on new workshop customers and instead to concentrate on our loyal regular customer base and try to offer them a better service with shorter waiting times and a little more slack in the system for those unexpected problems we encounter on the way. This decision may seem a little strange but with the webshop being so successful and the backlog of new parts we need to list we feel our time is better spent on work that is cleaner and easier on my back and knees.
The workshop is not closing, we will continue to look after our loyal customer base but if you haven't been a workshop customer before then I'm afraid we won't be able to look at your van for you.
We feel we cannot close the workshop as it is our proving ground, where we try out, trial fit parts before they are sold on the shop and is one thing we have over our competition, we know the parts well.
We are mechanics by trade and not salesmen just trying to shift units to meet targets, neither are we fly by night chancers who are in it for a quick buck selling things they know nothing about.
We are serious about this and in it for the long haul but feel our time is better invested in cleaner work that isn't so harsh on our bodies, for us this is the best way forward, we retain our workshop and effectively keep our hand in with all things mechanical and also keep our regulars happy.