Independent workshops are always being urged to invest in premises and equipment to compete against national service chains and OEM dealers. Feltham-based Phoenix Truck & Trailer Maintenance has done just that, opening a brand new four-bay workshop and tachograph calibration centre.
Phoenix Truck & Trailer Maintenance is a family-run business based in Feltham, London, close to Heathrow Airport. The business was started in1984 by Managing Director Jill Flockhart and her late husband David. It employs 25 technicians and 10 administrative staff. Jill’s son, Ryan, currently the Operations Director, joined the Phoenix team in 2010 after completing a business management degree at Loughborough University. Over the years, he has worked across the business, gathering the technical experience needed to fully comprehend every level of the Phoenix operation.
Phoenix offers a range of maintenance, service and repair packages, including planned periodic maintenance inspections, fleet servicing, MOT preparation and testing, on-site trailer servicing and a 24-hour call-out service. The team are fully trained and equipped to deal with all axle, transmission, engine and diagnostic repairs, including engine rebuilds. There’s a 12- strong team of mobile technicians that all have mobile workshops at their disposal for any 24-hour emergency call-outs that may come through.
“Understanding our customer needs and delivering the service they require to run their operations has been a top priority for us ever since we started the business,” said Jill. “It’s the best way to build loyalty. Our customers trust us to deliver good service at a reasonable cost.”
This approach has been so successful that it has allowed Phoenix to acquire a new site close by and invest in building a brand new four-bay workshop and tachograph calibration centre.
Ryan explained, “With large contracts coming in, we decided to invest in new premises to take the business forward. We’ve outgrown the original site and needed more space. The new workshop is 22,000ft2 and incorporates a first class tachograph calibration centre, VOSAapproved rolling road brake testers, and soon we will open a dedicated MOT class 4/7 test lane, with resilience built in for a planned ATF facility once accreditation has been completed.
“We want to offer our clients a one-stop shop, which has fuelled the decision to include tachograph calibration and training in the new service centre.” Nor was it just a question of needing room to expand, explained Jill: “We want our staff to be happy and part of that is ensuring they have a modern, clean place to work. Recruiting the best against main dealer competition is always challenging, but this new facility will mean that there are always enquiries and applications from the best in the industry.”
The existing site is now in the process of being refurbished into a dedicated trailer workshop. This will be staffed by a specialist team, providing services to an often overlooked area of the transport industry. The site will also include space to service newer spec 4.9m trailers, which had been a challenge to accommodate in the past. Once built, the trailer team will have the same quality of facility as the truck and light commercial team have at the new site.
The training centre
Jill and Ryan recognised early on in the planning process for the new site that customers were regularly remarking on the lack of training facilities in the local area. After a great deal of research, they incorporated a brand new, 16-seat training centre into the new building, which has already enhanced the reputation of the Phoenix Group. Alison Fastnedge, now Training Manager, was recruited to head up the new facility and in a short space of time, Driver CPC, ADR, Health and Safety, First Aid, Manual Handling, and Mental Health awareness training courses were developed. Training can also be delivered on a customer’s site with the option of designing and implementing bespoke packages if required.
The training centre is also available for hire should customers need an offsite environment to deliver in-house training, then Alison will take enquiries and build an experience tailored to individual needs.
Phoenix’s new service centre is also an accredited Tachograph Calibration Centre for Continental-VDO tachographs. “We believe there is demand for tachograph calibration at an independent workshop in our area, whether for a routine two year inspection or for recalibration and re-seal after a repair,” explained Ryan. Not all dealer OEMs offer on-site tacho calibration due to lack of space or pressure on workshop hours, he points out, and in this congested area of west London, travelling miles to an independent tacho centre adds considerably to cost and downtime. Recalibration, repairs and routine inspections can all now be carried out on site, including the new generation of tachographs being introduced from June 2019.