Four times a year for the last three years, Paul Miller, manager at the Marks Tey based John Austin garage, has been successfully running free Pit Stop Workshops on Saturday mornings to help people learn about car maintenance using a practical, hands on approach. The third one of this year was held on Saturday 11 August.
“Cars are so complex these days, there is very little we can to do if something goes wrong, so it’s easy to become a bit complacent with more general maintenance. This inevitably leads to problems which could have been avoided, not to mention higher repair bills,” said Paul.
The Pit Stop Workshop is designed to reduce the fear of basic car maintenance through familiarity. It gives people the confidence to know that if they are stranded with a flat tyre and the phone’s dead or there’s no signal, they can handle the situation. As this is not covered as part of the driving test, it’s a good opportunity for those learning to drive to come along and give themselves a head start.
After Paul had put everyone through their paces, it was time for a rest and free coffee and cake at The Food Company!
The John Austin final Pit Stop Workshop of the year will be held on Saturday 17 November.
We know from our customer surveys that over 95% of our customers have come to us through referral. We really appreciate that, and we’d like to encourage and reward those referrals starting right now. We are therefore delighted to announce the launch of Pass it on. As the name suggests, this scheme will reward John Austin customers with a discount of 20% off their next service or repair and the person referred to us will receive a 10% discount. Technically, the referred person will now be a John Austin customer, so once they refer a new customer to us, they too will be eligible for a 20% discount.
To get started, all our customers have to do is call in to the garage and pick up a Pass it on card. They complete their details and hand the whole card to a friend, colleague or relative who isn’t currently a John Austin customer; they add their details, book their vehicle in and then hand the card to us when collecting it to receive their discount. Our customers have up to 36 months to redeem their 20% discount and, as it CAN be used in conjunction with any other promotional scheme we may be operating, that discount could be even bigger. There is no downside to this scheme; it really is a win-win situation!
In March this year we launched our loyalty scheme Rewarding Service, where customers receive a stamp for every £20 spent at the garage (on a service, repair, MOT and products). Once 20 stamps are collected, they, or someone they give the car to, can have their vehicle’s air conditioning serviced for FREE. So far we’ve had an amazing response; it’s just really sad that most of us haven’t needed to keep cool. Here’s hoping the summer comes soon.
Colchester will be welcoming the Olympic Torch this Friday as part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. It is a real once in a lifetime experience where members of the local community will be running with the torch through the town. The team at John Austin are looking forward to being there to witness the event themselves, even if it is very early in the morning!
Now we all know when the Torch will be arriving, but what route will it travel along? And where can you park? John Austin has the answers!
The Torch will arrive on Ipswich Road at approximately 7:28am. It will travel down East Street, East Hill and the High Street, then on to North Hill. At the bottom of North Hill the Torch will turn left on to Middleborough where it will leave Colchester at approximately 8:16am and continue on the next leg of its’ journey to Hatfield Peverel.
Anyone who wishes to see the Torch is advised to get there in plenty of time – the streets will fill up pretty quickly! Any traffic waiting to use the roads will be delayed for a short time and the Essex Police are asking for your patience in this matter.
So how do you get there? Of course the best plan of action would be walking or cycling, or arranging something called a ‘walking bus’ where a group of you get together and walk to your chosen viewing point. However if you live that little bit further away you can drive and take advantage of the free parking that the University of Essex are offering on their Colchester campus. From here the closest point on the Torch Relay route is East Hill – about 30 minutes’ walk from the campus, where you can see the Torch on its journey through the town. It is recommended that you arrive at the campus early to secure a parking spot, as these will fill up very quickly too!
We hope this information has helped you plan for the journey. If you want any further information you can visit the Colchester Council website at; http://www.colchester.gov.uk/article/6300/Olympic-Torch-Relay—Travel-Advice-for-Colchester where you can also find a list of different activities that are happening on the day, including a bouncy castle, Zumba class and face painting.
On Friday 27 April our manager Paul, and his new wife Gemma, completed a skydive to raise money for charity Help for Heroes in the name of Courtney Fraser, whose father was seriously injured in Afghanistan and is now unable to serve.
They were up bright and early for an 8:30 start at Beccles Airfield, where they received training and some health and safety guidance. Then they were strapped to their instructors and ready to go; in fact Paul and Gemma had the skies to themselves that day because of the unfavourable weather conditions.
The couple decided on a tandem skydive instead of an expensive honeymoon, as it would have meant leaving their 16-month old son Zaviar behind. Gemma said, “We decided to do it because it’s a once in a lifetime experience and it was for a very good cause. It was strange because after you jump out of the plane, you don’t feel like you’re moving at all. You would have thought being strapped to a complete stranger then jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet would be really scary, but it wasn’t too bad. What stuck in my head was the eerie silence, and the fact that it was freezing cold!”
They were given the chance to steer their own parachutes, which Gemma aptly described as “trying to hold on to an umbrella in the wind.” She landed safely in the field, but there was no sign of Paul. It turns out he had landed in a completely different field – and men say women are bad drivers!
The couple raised £215 for Help for Heroes and adrenaline junkie Paul wants to do a bungee jump for their next fundraising event. Lucky Gemma.
Paul Miller, manager at the John Austin VW & Audi Specialists Ltd. in Marks Tey, is doing a sponsored tandem skydive with his new wife, Gemma, to raise money for charity Help for Heroes. Gemma was hoping for a lovely relaxing honeymoon somewhere exotic, but instead she’s going to be plunging through the air at 12,000 feet a minute!
Paul is looking forward to it, “I’m very excited; it really is a once in a lifetime experience and will be such an adrenaline rush. We haven’t really got a financial target, but the more sponsors we can get, the more Help for Heroes will benefit and that’s the most important thing.”
Gemma is feeling a little differently, “I’m very nervous! I’m not a daredevil at heart, but I know that we are doing it for a good cause. I’m sure when we get up there it’ll be a lot of fun.”
A tandem skydive involves two people jumping out of a plane at an altitude of about 10,000 – 12,000 feet and freefalling at 120mph. The instructor you are strapped to will deploy the parachute at around 5,000 feet to slow you down so you can take in the amazing views and land safely. Paul and Gemma will be doing their skydive in Beccles, Suffolk on Friday 27April and are hoping to raise as much money as possible for ‘Help for Heroes’. You can help raise money by visiting the website: www.helpforheroes.org.uk.
Marianne West the Help for Heroes Volunteer County Coordinator for Essex added that she was delighted that Paul and Gemma had chosen to support the charity with their skydive. One of the latest local projects to benefit from funds raised is the brand new Chavasse VC Centre in Berechurch Road, Colchester which will be officially opened on 8 May. . The build has been funded by £6Million from Help for Heroes and it will run the Recovery Centre, with the Army providing the staff required to deliver key recovery activities to serving and veteran soldiers. The Recovery Centre will provide a Support Hub, where a collection of welfare agencies and other services charities will give a ‘one stop shop’ of advice and support for serving personnel, veterans and their families – for life.
Emma Parry, CEO & co-founder, Help for Heroes said: “Help for Heroes is all about ‘doing your bit’ and this event is a wonderful example of people rallying support and having a great deal of fun while they raise money for a wonderful cause. We have been able to use the £millions raised for the charity (over £131Million in just four and a half years), to provide practical and direct support to those wounded in the current conflicts. The money you raise is needed, it is being used almost as soon as it is received, and is hugely appreciated. There is still a wish list of £66Million for future projects!”
We’re delighted to announce that we have been short-listed as one of the nine finalists in the Colchester Business Awards for Excellent Customer Service.
Speaking about the news, Marc Linch, managing director, said: “Without our loyal customers we wouldn’t have a business and we really appreciate it that many have been using the garage for years, some for decades. We always do our very best when servicing or repairing their vehicles, but never take their custom for granted and are constantly looking at ways of giving something back and improving the whole customer experience. To win in this category would be brilliant, but to get this far means a lot to the whole team.”
We know our customers are spoiled for choice when it comes to garages in the area; some have lower price structures than ours too, however our company ethos is based on trust, excellence and putting our customers at the heart of every development within the company.
The vast majority of our customers use us because we provide a highly professional service, at less than dealership prices – important at any time, but more especially in these straitened times. We are able to control our costs by keeping our overheads deliberately low; we pride ourselves on providing “skills not frills”, something we know our customers appreciate, as many have been using us for decades. Although “we don’t do the frills” we do, of course, have a free local pick-up and delivery service and a pool of courtesy cars.
Last year we received the “Buy with Confidence” accreditation from Essex County Council Trading Standards and are one of only four garages in the Colchester area to receive the award. We also run schemes which give our customers added value too. For example, all returning customers receive a 5% discount on their next service and, with our loyalty scheme “Rewarding Service” they – or someone they nominate – can have a free air conditioning service.
Our referral scheme “Pass it on” gives a new customer 10% off their first service or repair with us, and the customer who recommended them receives a further 20% off their next service or repair. Importantly the 20% discount CAN be used in conjunction with any of our promotional offers.
For customers who want to get as much performance out of their vehicle, without increasing their fuel costs, we’ve introduced a tuning service. And, finally, we run free Pit Stop Workshops throughout the year to help motorists gain skills in basic car maintenance.
We’re looking forward to the new year when we’ve got even more planned!
Nowadays any new car will probably come with air conditioning as standard. We assume that it is only useful to keep us cool on a hot day. So why is it standard here in England; we don’t enjoy the hottest of temperatures do we?
Well air conditioning can help in other ways too. It quickly demists your windscreen, filters out airborne particles (like dust and pollen) to make the air ‘purer’ and, on that elusive hot day, helps to keep the temperature in your car down and the aerodynamics unaffected (which wouldn’t be the case if you had to open your window).
Like everything else under the bonnet, the air conditioning system needs servicing to keep it working effectively and efficiently. Although the technology has come a long way since the original system which was first used in the 1940s, it still needs to be maintained. Air conditioning repairs can be very costly, so having your system serviced regularly can help you avoid large bills later on.
It is a very complicated system with quite a few components: a compressor, condenser, evaporator, orifice tube, expansion valve and accumulator (amongst other things) – so don’t try a DIY service at home!
All air conditioning systems will leak refrigerant over a period of time, and if this is allowed to continue, can seriously affect the compressor (the main and most costly part of your system). If it is not repaired by an expert it could cause further damage and, in extreme cases, lead to your car breaking down.
Despite the lack of hot weather, you should use your air conditioning all year to ensure the refrigerant and oil are circulated round the system; this makes it harder for bacteria to grow and keeps the seals lubricated. That musty odour you can get is a common complaint – it can smell of anything, from stale air to babies’ nappies. It’s caused by the mould which can build up in the evaporator, a perfect home for bacteria, but can easily be remedied during the air conditioning service.
The John Austin air conditioning service costs £78, but we’ve just launched a new loyalty scheme where you could get this for FREE*. If you’re one of the unlucky few who doesn’t have air conditioning, then you can give it to a friend or relative to use – I’m sure they’ll be pleased to have their system serviced for free. You can collect your loyalty card from the garage today.
*Terms and conditions apply.