In last weeks blog, I mentioned about producing the month end accounts and managing the forecourt at my father’s garage business. This was a time of my life when I first started to learn about hard work and making sacrifices for the family business.
Customer care was paramount when I was serving behind the till and was also required when going out to help the customer with checking the tyres, filling up with oil and fuel. I also had to deal with enquiries directly from customers related to products that we sold out of the small shop. Those were the days when we were taught that the ‘customer was always right’, and I believe this attitude has continued with me to this day.
Sometimes it was a struggle to remain polite, especially with some customers, who had never got used to the fact that automation and self service was here to stay. Often with them, it was a case of going the extra mile to meet their demands, but customer satisfaction was key to the success of the business.
Back then, I learnt to deal with cash and to give the correct change worked out manually, my strength in maths was helpful for this! That was until more and more people were starting to use credit cards, which meant we were then using a machine similar to the one below - much bigger that the machines we use today!
Around this time of our lives, just before myself and my wife were married ourselves, we often attended weddings for friends. I can remember my first duty as a wedding car provider for a friend, I had no idea that I would one day actually be a professional chauffeur! Believe it or not, I was dressed in a bright green suit and used my Mini shown below, to transport 3 bridesmaids. We had an impossible deadline to get through the city of Bath, but we got there and so my first wedding chauffeur experience was done. You may even be able to notice my green waistcoat and my fiancé by my side, who I had to leave at the church whilst I went off to collect the bridesmaids.
The same Mini was originally green but when I took it over I did some small modifications and painted it an aconite colour, using the facilities of the Paint Shop in the garage. I can remember taking that car on many trips to Cheddar, Somerset and have to admit I was not as diligent on keeping the speed limits as I have now been for many years. Guess that made me a boy racer in my youth!
Thinking again about my ‘garage’ days, the time had come to consider computerising the accounts and after much persuasion and investigation, I managed to convince my father and uncle that they needed a computer. Eventually they invested in an Apricot Computer much like the library picture below found on this link:
After many long days and nights, I finally transitioned all the accounts and management reports to the computer. The 3 1/2 " floppy disk was an incredible invention, it stored so much information… Or did it?
Anyway, thats it for this week folks.