Founder of Alton Cars in 1979, Tony Parish is a well-known industry figure with five bodyshops throughout Yorkshire. Tony and his company has recently scooped numerous awards, and this year alone has won all of the major bodyshop awards, including The AM Bodyshop Award, Motor Trader Bodyshop of the Year, Bodyshop Magazine Independent Bodyshop of the Year and the ABP Club’s Industry Knight.
Which aspect of the bodyshop world has most influenced your job? I will have to say in all honesty – Audatex, or computerised estimating and I’m not being paid for this interview! Prior to computerised systems becoming common place in the bodyshop, estimating was totally disjointed
everyone went about it in their own way. By taking on a standard, it brought about huge changes to our business and the way in which we operated. Although the uptake of the BSi kitemark has been disappointing, I can see the same happening with this – it will take time for it to be widely adopted, but if we’re all working to the same standards, it can only be good news for our industry.
What has been your greatest business challenge? I’m faced with the day-to-day challenges of our business in general: planning for its future, which sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball for; striving for constant quality throughout the business, and of course the challenges posed by our customers: Take for example a stolen, recovered car was repaired and subsequently collected by its female owner. I received a call later in the day from the customer who said she was unable to find the car’s stereo. I reminded her that she had checked the car when it had been recovered and had seen that the stereo had been ripped from the dash in the incident. We’d put the stereo back in the dash before returning the car. To cut a long
story short the customer hadn’t been able to ‘find’ the stereo as she’d not seen it in the dashboard, but had been looking for it in the boot and glove compartment…
What will we be talking about in our industry in 12 month’s time? I think the word ‘capacity’ will be on everyone’s lips, that and the inability to meet work providers’ demand for it. It has been predicted that there will be a decline of over one-fifth in the number of bodyshops over the next five years, with shortfalls in capacity as soon as 2010. Although I hate to say it, reading various news reports I think it might be sooner than that.
What is your favourite word? Profit. Or ‘right first time’, but that’s three.
What will you be spending less money on? Transportation and courtesy cars. Because we now have 5 repair centres across Yorkshire we’re able to re-direct work locally, this cuts down on travelling times and also allows us to better manage our fleet of courtesy cars. We’re spending less, even though the price of fuel has increased, by simply having to travel shorter distances.
Where would you like to be right now? Personally – in the Bahamas. But with regard to the business I’m very happy where we are. We’ve actively marketed our business and are far further forward than I had ever hoped we’d be.
if we’re all working to the same standards, it can only be good news for our industry
I’m faced with the day-to-day challenges of our business in general: planning for its future, which sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball for