Gott Technical Services is one of the North East's leading motor equipment suppliers. We catch up with director Ian Gott to find out how his business grew.
GTS services and maintains MOT and body shop equipment to the vehicle service and repair industry across the region and beyond.
Based in Morpeth, director Ian Gott runs this second-generation family business, which has more than 500 active clients, from small garages to large multi-site motor retail groups.
He is married to entrepreneur Nickie Gott who runs the successful Durham-based She’s Gott It event management.
Last year, GTS saw a 35% increase in turnover and has started to grow in the Scottish and Cumbrian marketplaces, after securing a national contract with outlets as far as Dunfermline.
Q: When was the major turning point in your business journey?
A: Our business has been established 32 years and, as the second generation of the family business, I have always felt we could achieve more.
We offer a specialist service to a trade that has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the years, with increased fuel prices and competition from European imports putting pressure on our clients’ revenue streams.
Our business has tended to follow our clients’ fortunes and be directly affected by the market pressures. When the last recession was predicted it gave me a sense of renewed determination. I set a plan to ensure that we would not only survive but also grow our business during what was predicted to be a difficult future.
Q: How different is it inheriting a family business as opposed to launching a new business by yourself like your wife has done? Do you find you are able to offer and share advice with each other?
A: I think they are just as difficult, but for very different reasons. When my wife started her new business she was inevitably worried about whether or not it would be a success, even though she believed it would be.
The challenges that faced her were how to communicate the fact that her business even existed, without spending large sums of money on advertising. And also having to make decisions about employing staff and moving to premises, all the time worrying about where the next cheque was going to come from.
However, the benefit she had was that she could make decisions quickly and was free to make her own mistakes. This is something I have found difficult working in an established business, which has a strong reputation and a certain way of doing things.
I have pretty much grown up in the business and, for a long time, accepted the way things were. In later years, I have tried to establish my own way of doing things and sought new avenues for the business to grow.
Key to both our success as business people is that my wife and I have always discussed our businesses and shared ideas. You can guarantee that when things aren’t going right for one of us, the other is there to re-motivate – sometimes with a caring, sharing discussion, and at other times with a kick up the backside.
Q: How have you found the experience of conquering different parts of the UK and how has this been affected by the recession and low-carbon car initiatives?
A: We have secured business throughout the UK by working in partnership with like-minded businesses that can provide us with support.
However, the onset of recession has meant that we have also had to reach further and cover more business directly ourselves.
This is something we have decided to do to help grow the business and maintain quality levels.
Low-carbon car initiatives are in their infancy but we expect to see a rapid rise in demand for services to support these vehicles over the next couple of years.
Many main car dealerships now have charge facilities located in their car parks, and they also need equipment to prepare and service the vehicles. This therefore is a huge growth area for us and something we are taking leadership on. We have approved lifting equipment and service tools to aid this process.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
A: Make sure you enjoy your job. I do, as it is varied and often involves solving problems for people.
I particularly like it when a client gives us a short deadline to complete things or would like a job done in a particularly way – I see this as a challenge and like being put to the test.
Q: Is there any advice you could share with other business owners to help them grow and develop their business?
A: Have high expectations and dare to think big, but do not overlook your smaller customers. Have a plan. A simple plan will do, but make sure you write something down that will be a commitment to what you want to achieve.
As part of your plan, look at what your competitors are doing, who their customers are, and work out what you need to do to win those customers.
Q: What is the future for Gott Technical Services?
A: We will continue to grow by expanding our service department and winning new contracts.
We will continue to lead the way in the distribution of low carbon vehicle repair equipment, and will work collectively with education establishments on striving to meet body shop and garage owner’s needs for research, development and training in green vehicle maintenance.