An interview with Ros Hanson of rapidly expanding PMC Repair Specialists

An interview with Ros Hanson of rapidly expanding PMC Repair Specialists

Earlier this year PMC Repair Specialists in Chichester helped one of our FOXY Lady Drivers when she had an unfortunate encounter with a hedge. Our member was delighted with the work carried out by PMC, so we wanted to find out more about this business as well as co-owner Ros Hanson, who runs the accident repair centre with her husband Bradley.

Ros started work at PMC when she was 14, working as a Saturday girl. She quickly rose up the ranks to become manager, and in 2008 she and Bradley took over the full running of the business from the previous owner, Bradley’s uncle. The business, which is part of insurance company Ageas’ network of repair shops, as well as a FOXY Lady-approved accident repair centre, has since gone from strength to strength with a second repair centre in Dorset, and Ros has just opened PMC’s third in Wiltshire.

What’s a typical working day for you?

Directing a business is so different from actually working within a business. I’d give my right arm to work within the business some days! My role is to control the three businesses, as well as to look after all the staff, make sure everyone’s doing their roles and that they’re happy and comfortable. I look after the money side of the businesses, with a little help from others too. My biggest role is maintaining the relationship with our main insurance company, Ageas – making sure they’re happy and getting everything they want from us.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I love being busy. I’m very organised and I’m very methodical. I like having huge things to deal with, like having a new project or putting together another business plan. This is the third business we’ve launched, and the more we’ve done of that, the more I enjoy it.

Can you explain the accident repair process?

The insurance company will notify us, normally by email, that a customer has had an incident and that we need to be looking after them. The first thing we do then is call the customer, take down information from them, and ask for photographs of the damage to help speed up the process before we get the vehicle booked in. Their vehicle is then collected, a courtesy car supplied and once the vehicle arrives back on site we’ll give them a call to say what we’re going to be doing, and when we’ll be able to redeliver it.

Images are taken of all repairs as we do them, so the insurance company can get proof that what we’re charging for is what we’ve done. Once the work is completed, the customer has the vehicle back and the insurance company is billed. It’s a very simple process.

We’re a very efficient workplace here. Most of the repairs take between 24 to 48 hours, whatever the accident damage – not just a very small mirror change for example, but a complete re-spray and repairing suspension damage.

So how do you speed the process up?

Some of it is a secret! We’re fastest in the network for Ageas, so some of the things we do, we’re better at than others. You don’t give all your secrets away! But there are some things that we’ve passed on to rest of Ageas network – like getting that image from the customer when we first speak to them about the damage. That shows us straight away what we need to be doing to the car, before it even gets here. So if it’s a completely smashed in front bumper, we’ll be able to tell if its un-repairable, and we’ll order one before the car’s even here. By the time the customer’s car gets here, the part could well already have been painted because we get the colour code from the chassis number from the registration number of the vehicle. So when it arrives here on site, it’s just a case of taking their old bumper off and putting their new one on.

At other body shops, the vehicle arrives, they’ll have look at it, it will sit in the car park for a couple of days, then they’ll ring up the supplier and order another bumper, then it may be the wrong one, so they’ll have to order another one – all before they take the vehicle into the workshop and start painting. Before you know it, days and days have gone by. Some businesses are very inefficient within this industry, unfortunately. But we use that to our advantage.

How important is cleanliness to your business?

It’s absolutely fundamental to the business. If you came in here now, you could eat your food off the floor, because it is spotless. It is important to us, because a clean shop equals a clean mind. It also makes the staff more comfortable and the customers’ vehicles never get dirty. It cuts out so many problems by keeping everything clean and tidy. Most importantly, customers want and demand that, and they should have it.

And how important is it for PMC to offer a female-friendly service?

Hugely important. Being a woman myself, I understand why women who aren’t in this industry find it difficult to go into body shops and accident repair centres. So it’s enormously important that we can give that difference people aren’t expecting. I’ve got two lovely ladies on reception who greet all our customers with a smile and a happy face. Our customers get tea or coffee, and there are women’s magazines to skim through – it’s very unintimidating.

It’s also very important to have women within the business. We have a female manager at our Dorset branch and quite often customers or parts suppliers will walk in and ask her if they can speak to the manager. She’ll say “I am the manager”, which is quite shocking for some people.

What else do female customers want from a bodyshop?

They don’t want to be ripped off, and they don’t want to feel like they’re being spoken down to. Some of us aren’t as good with cars as others, but you shouldn’t be made to feel that you’re inferior in any way. We don’t all know how hoovers are put together and not all of us want to, do we? We don’t need to know. But you should just be able to walk in to a business, receive a good service from friendly people and given clear information.

How easy is it to recruit female staff?

On the administration side, it’s not too difficult at all. But I’ve yet to see a woman come into this business who wants to work in the actual workshop which is a real shame. For some it’s just too male dominated an industry.

How can the UK motor industry get more women involved?

Getting rid of some of the imagery in the industry would help – adverts from manufacturing and paint companies all feature women wearing next to nothing. It’s that whole stereotypical ideal that men are all greasy and the women are the play girls. We’ve been forced into thinking that way over the years by the media and it’s very difficult to change that mindset. We need to promote the good bodyshops out there that are doing more for women and are female-fronted.

We quite agree Ros! You’re exactly the kind of role model that we need to kick start a revolution in female-led workshops and garages in the UK. Here at FOXY we’d like the media to focus on hard-working and highly successful women like you, who can offer inspiration to thousands of other women with the skills to succeed in a male-dominated environment.

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