Charting the high road that led to the success of trusted family garage and tyre specialist Troy Autopoint. Owner Vance Johnson reveals the industry secrets, helping you stay safe whilst saving you money this winter.
Hi Vance, tell us how you’ve kept the show on the road all these years.
I started the business 55 years ago and I’m still running it five days a week, I’ve given everything to Troy. I’m 73 now but I still come in everyday because I am blessed with wonderful staff and loyal customers. We’ve all been on this journey together. Half of the time I’m sat outside drinking coffee with customers who have been coming here their whole lives, that’s how it is with such a small family garage like ours. Some will even remember me from my days at North Street in 1965. Come down to Harehills Lane and at the front counter you'll see Paul, Andrew and Gary, while over at Selby Road are my trusted colleagues Peter, Carl and Tony, all of whom have been with me for over 30 years! Customers see the same faces and it just gives a nice feeling – I think that’s unique in Leeds.
We hear you’ve got different ethos when it comes to MOT’s?
We used to do MOT’s inhouse until the mid-1990s – that was around the time I decided to downsize and invest in our two key sites: Halton and Harehills. It wasn’t the business it is today, and I realised that we had to make it more personal and reputation was everything.
I was in conversation with a representative from the Ministry of Transport, who made it clear that they prefer garages who don’t do their own MOT’s. To avoid a conflict of interest, we decided to use third party MOT stations. What the customer pays us, we pay them. There’s no benefit for the third party to fail the car as it comes back to us and our boys to do the work. It’s a very fair way to do an MOT and there aren’t many garages that do the same.
Any tips for staying safe on the roads after lockdown?
A lot of cars will be back on the roads this summer after an inactive few months, as more of us return to the workplace and start planning summer trips. A few basic checks will help to avoid the inconvenience and expense of a breakdown. All fluid levels should be checked, and remember, batteries, tyres, brakes and wipers can all be affected by a period of inactivity. We offer a 20-point safety check at both of our branches and we can do it while you wait. It only takes a few minutes and it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Are budget tyres really as good as the leading brands?
When friends ask me to quote for a tyre - I tell them every time - budget tyres are every bit as good for everyday motoring as the big names. While leading brands guarantee the latest in tyre technology, budget brands are now produced in modern factories to such high standards, the main difference is simply price. Plus, the biggest production plants are found in South Korea and have equipment far superior to that of European brands. So it just goes to show, you never quite know what you’re buying.
Are you obliged to head to your main dealer for servicing?
Many people who buy a new car assume that they are tied to the main dealer for servicing, this is not the case. You can have a car serviced at any VAT registered garage provided they use approved parts and follow the manufacturer’s service schedule. Your warranty is not affected, and Troy can save you up to 40% of the dealer price.
Dealer service packages may look like good value but remember that many new cars with two-year service intervals will only require one service in the first three years. We may struggle to match the high-end coffee machines, but our service is second to none!
Tell us how your reputation for honesty sets you apart from the rest.
It’s difficult to find mechanics with the skill level we need. That’s why we pay well to retain staff and profit share in the belief that everyone’s hard work is rewarded.
Our customers get good honest service from people who know what they’re talking about, and trust that if my boys say their car needs something, it really needs it. Just take a look at our feedback on Google! Our mechanics are trained and accredited to deal with all manner of vehicles, including electric and hybrid, with access to all the necessary specialist equipment. And when long-term customers come in, we’ve got records on previous work we’ve done (sometimes going back 20 years!) so we know the ins and outs of what they need.
For us, we believe if you look after a customer, their children and grandchildren will return time after time.
Troy Autopoint Harehills
174 Harehills Lane, Harehills,
Leeds LS8 5JP
Tel. 0113 240 4141
Troy Autopoint Halton
180-182 Selby Road, Halton,
Leeds LS15 0QL
Tel. 0113 260 8464