The vehicle repair industry is still one very much consumed by stereotypes; male dominated, compact repair spaces and not the cleanest of working environments, but this could not be further from the truth for many entrepreneurial shops that are embracing new technologies and leading innovation across the industry. This stereotype goes hand in hand with the sector’s inherent issues with attracting diverse talent – a problem which vehicle repair professionals across the UK are grappling with to secure the next generation of the industry.
So, what can we do to counter outdated perceptions?
Many modern bodyshops are now turning this perception on its head and challenging the views of customers with pristine workspaces and state-of-the-art equipment – not to mention the female technicians climbing up the ranks in their chosen specialist areas.
Hoping to catch a glimpse of this first hand, we paid a visit to the team at XL Motors, a Coventry-based accident repair centre with a 25 year history. Led by Bodyshop Manager, David Lloyd, we began our tour in reception – an airy space where we were greeted by a 10-plus team of friendly customer support, damage assessors and business development professionals both men and women.
Moving through to the back of the office, it was easy to assume that the next set of doors would unveil a space very opposite to the centre’s customer-facing front of house. Although the atmosphere changed to a more dynamic setting, the clean and bright theme continues.
Behind the reception doors, the XL Motors state-of-the-art repair facility buzzes, filled with vehicles and a number of its technicians working on them.
From the paint workshop to the parts area, the bodyshop is clean, uncluttered and highly organised and, contrary to common perception, walls are clear of hanging hand tools and floors are kept clear of obstacles. Even down to the car key safety system, the facility is kitted with high-spec technology which – combined with the array of vehicles across the shop floor – gives the centre a futuristic feel.
However, one thing more impressive than the workshop itself were the people working in it. A diverse workforce of seasoned experts, young apprentices, men and women made the bodyshop feel inviting and familiar for visitors, offering a look into what the future of the entire vehicle repair industry could be.
Speaking to the staff, we were met with determination and enthusiasm not only for their individual roles, but for working as a team – a sense of togetherness which extended from the outdoor valet team and right through to the company’s Managing Director.
Changing the age-old stereotypes pinned on the vehicle repair industry is by no means a simple task. However, spending a day in an innovative space like XL Motors is a step in the right direction. From the hands-on repair work to the customer service provided, the centre is a great example of how a modern bodyshop looks, and is one that many others might try their hand at if they could get a look behind the scenes too!
A huge thanks to the team at XL Motors for having us for the day – we look forward to visiting again soon!