Several years ago, brothers Oly and Toby Richmond received funding from Deborah Meaden in the Dragons Den to run an online car servicing garage brokerage.
This business relationship then broke down for mutual reasons.
We’re told this was either because of Deborah’s lack of motor industry experience or because she read about too many complaints at that stage.
Here we look at the role of a garage broker and the quality issues this raises today.
What is a Garage Broker?
By an online garage brokerage I mean a branded website promoting garages that customers think are operated by that business; the motorist books and pays through the broker who then places the work with a local garage that has agreed to the broker’s rates and processes.
Servicing Stop’s website is a good example of one that is clear and simple. It tells us their garages are approved by them, that their mechanics are qualified (they don’t mention licensed which would prove they’re up to date?) and that they use OE parts so all repairs meet warranty standards. But they don’t tell motorists who their garages are. That won’t worry most motorists who’d welcome the convenience of this sort of service but perhaps it should raise some concerns?
At the time, the Dragons seemed to think that this was a unique concept (yet NSN and Prestige were well established brokers at that time) and Deborah Meaden offered them £100k.
All did not go according to plan afterwards…
Reasons Why Dragon Deborah and Servicing Stop split
Oly and Toby initially accepted Deborah Meaden’s offer of a £100,000 investment but decided to continue on their own when they later met Deborah and learned she had no experience of the motor trade. They subsequently found a more suitable investor – to the disappointment of Ms Meaden.
This is how they explained this.
“We secured a promise of investment by a Dragon but decided not to follow it up as it would have proved bad for both parties. Our message to potential entrepreneurs is that there are numerous ways of securing investment and backing so think twice before accepting the advice of a Dragon.”
And this is what Deborah Meaden placed on her website…
*Important announcement re Servicing Stop*
Following a number of complaints regarding the service provided by Servicing Stop, Deborah would like to make it clear that although she made an offer in the Den, the investment did not go through and Deborah is not in any way connected with Servicing Stop.
Since then Servicing Stop has gone from strength to strength and we hope they’ve ironed out quality issues and processes by now. I can understand why they’d prefer a business mentor who understood the motor industry. Although, perhaps being an industry outsider might have been a good thing for Servicing Stop?
Deborah could have added her weight to insist on better quality garages for Servicing Stop at an earlier stage.
We could certainly have done with her support to help raise standards in this industry sector!
NB: FOXY is not a garage broker. We run an award-winning and not for profit motoring club for women drivers, supported by garage subscribers that meet our FOXY Lady Approved ie female friendly standards. They have all signed the FOXY Lady Promise to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women services we don’t need’ and are required to EITHER be part of a Chartered Trading Standards Institute Approved Code of Practice scheme (operated by The Motor Ombudsman, Trust My Garage or Bosch Car Service) OR be listed at the IMI Professional Register. Finally we require sufficient online female feedback to secure their network place – in exchange for this, their female customers get a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club from that subscriber.
Women can join the Club here.
Garages can apply to join our network here.