A successful independent garage in Kettering is stealing the lead on its competitors despite being ‘hidden’ at the back of an industrial estate.

Northampton-based Headlands Garage has just revealed it’s fixing 4,600 vehicles and carrying out over 2,700 MOTs a year. The work is generated almost exclusively online.

Owner, Mike Deely, said: “Whichever way you approach our garage, there’s three competitors before us in either direction. Despite that, out of the seven garages around here, we’re the biggest and the busiest.

“It’s something we’ve worked hard but smart to achieve. Our whole strategy centres on having an incredibly strong online presence and letting potential customers interact with us in a way that suits them, not us.”

In the last three months, Headlands Garage has appeared in over 100k Google searches.

Deely says from there, people email or message via the website. Also, with the majority of customers using a hand held device, they click straight onto directions. This automatically launches maps and literally takes them to the door.

“The customer experience from start to finish is effortless and incredibly quick. It’s simply what people expect these days,” he continues.

“We’re very aware people don’t talk anymore. They might be at work, commuting or organising their car service at 11pm, so communication is mainly via an online message platform or email.

“If I call my kids these days, they think there’s an emergency! This is the generation now booking vehicle services so there’s no option but to be customer-led in how you interact.”

The garage’s strategy has paid dividends. It’s expanded and now has eight ramps, two MOT lanes and six technicians. And with up to eight enquiries coming in every day for vehicle services, Deely manages the workload by turning the website modules on and off like a tap.

“When we knew the MOT holiday period was ending, we ‘turned down’ services such as engine repairs and DPF work. This meant we could cope with MOT demand and the subsequent work that creates.

“When that finished, we turned those website modules back on and the enquiries filtered through again. We’re completely in control but you can only get to that point with a strong online presence.

“Our website is the powerhouse behind the garage and it pays for itself endlessly.

“We work with Garage Services Online and I’m convinced it’s their understanding of the aftermarket motor sector that give us the edge.

“They get all the little details right and have future-proofed our business for years to come.”