How did this happen?

This being my initial blog, is to start a series that helps you to understand where I come from and how this passion to drive came about. I hope you enjoy reading this and that it gives you an insight into what ‘drives’ me, excuse the pun! 

Born in 1959, I was brought up my by parents in the little village of Dauntsey Lock, near Lyneham and was one of 5 children, 1 brother and 3 sisters. My father Kenneth and his brother, my uncle Gordon ran a garage business G & K Barnes Ltd in the village, which later expanded to having a garage at nearby Lyneham. So straight away you will appreciate that I grew up with cars very much being in the family and that my parents ran a family business.

As I grew older, I used to spend a lot of time at the garage, and indeed used to serve customers on the pumps where I was often told ‘fill her up with 4 star please’. In those days there was no self service, and an attendant would fill your car with petrol, check the oil and water and wash your windscreen for you as part of the service. That attendant at times was me, even though I was only a lad. 

The customer would pay me the amount I told him and I would then take the cash to the till to ring it in, going back out to the car to give him any change. My mother also worked at the garage as well as being a full time mum to us all. Mum would ‘cash up’ at the end of the shifts and balance the till as it was called. She also prepared the accounts with my father.

Eventually in the 1970’s automation started to creep in and our garage installed with BP what was called a 'note acceptor'. This meant that after hours when the garage was closed, we could let customers serve themselves petrol once they have inserted the cash amount of petrol they wanted. For this, they would have to insert a valid cash note into a tray which the machine would accept, that then released the pump for them to dispense the petrol into their tank.

This idea of serving yourself was quite slow to catch on at first and I can recall a customer at some point having tried to insert a £5 note into the door crack instead of the notes tray and shouting to the machine to actually put the fuel into his tank. I am still not sure whether he expected the pump nozzle to move itself into his fuel tank or not - it was quite funny at the time!!

As you can imagine there are more stories like this that I could share, but growing up in a family business taught me that customer care was always paramount in building a business, which is something we as a family now, pay particular attention to with every client we have.

I hope you enjoy reading this very short initial blog as I hope to add more contents over the coming weeks on this first series. I also have other ideas for future series but I will leave that for later.

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