A husband and wife team from Darlington are motoring ahead after taking over a well known local garage; offering new job opportunities to two employees facing redundancy, thanks to the help received from TEDCO Business Support, Virgin StartUp and Pulse Creative Marketing.
Running their own business was a long-time ambition for Mike and Tiff Cox. They have now thrown open the doors to M-TECH Autocentre on Progress Way in Darlington, a site previously occupied by Beaumont Garage. To launch their new venture, the couple retained two members of staff – an apprentice and a time served mechanic – from the former business which ceased trading at the end of 2015.
M-Tech Autocentre offers customers a range of car maintenance and repair options including MOTs and services, with the couple planning to expand the operation and establish a retail outlet selling mainstream car accessories in the near future.
Mike, who has worked in the motoring industry since leaving school – most recently as a centre manager for Halfords, and Tiff – a former dental nurse, had been keen to establish their own venture for some time. The pair found that they were able to make their vision a reality after securing individual low cost business loans from Virgin StartUp.
Tiff Cox said: “Starting a family business was something that we had discussed for some time and we had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do. There is a huge amount that needs to be taken into consideration in order to get a new venture off the ground, and after many months of planning the right opportunity came our way and everything fell into place from there.”
With no previous experience of running their own business, the pair were keen to discover what support was available; they approached TEDCO Business Support and through its Start and Grow programme, were introduced to their personal business advisor Mark Johnston.
Tiff continued: “Having a robust business plan in place was crucial; we spent several months researching the viability of our proposed venture and going over every detail so when we sat down with Mark we were confident that we had a idea to take forward which was commercially sound and sustainable. Mark’s advice and support was invaluable, particularly when it came to examining the financial aspects such as forecasting and cash flow.”
With finance in place, the pair set about sourcing suitable premises for their venture and when they became aware of a potential site at Progress Way they knew that the time was right and seized upon the opportunity.
Tiff Cox said: “Beaumont Garage was very well known in the local area and the site was just what we were looking for. With the closure of the garage, there were two members of the team unfortunately facing redundancy – we offered them new employment and have been able to retain many of the existing customers which meant we were able to hit the ground running and get the business off to a flying start.
“We are extremely excited about the prospects for M-Tech Autocentre and have ambitions to open at least one further garage in the not too distant future. The Start and Grow programme not only helps people like ourselves set up a new business but ensures that we have access to ongoing support through those crucial early years; it gives us huge confidence to know that we have someone with Mark’s knowledge and experience to turn to for guidance on any challenges we face along the way.”
Mark Johnston, TEDCO Business Support advisor said: “Mike and Tiff are a very motivated and determined couple with great business acumen. They developed an extremely sound and well considered business plan which had clearly taken into account not only how they would establish M-Tech Autocentre but ensured that from the outset they were looking towards the future growth potential and job creation opportunities within the business.”
Final preparations for the business saw Mike and Tiff Cox work with Pulse Creative Marketing. The couple, introduced by Mark Johnston, met with Paul Finch of Pulse Creative Marketing at one of the monthly Sales and Marketing Surgeries held at Business Central Darlington. Following the introduction it was identified that assistance was required to develop an online platform where the business’ services and information could be displayed.
Pulse Creative Marketing developed a cost-effective starter website, using the exsiting company branding and colour scheme to make the business stand out amongst the competition. Since launching, the M-Tech Autocentre website will help take the business forward and promote the range of services available.
Regarding the support from Pulse, Paul commented: “Our starter websites are ideal for new businesses and I am pleased that the solution we created for M Tech has helped showcase the fantastic services they have to offer. As the business grows, I look forward to continue the working relationship with Mike and Tiff and wish them all the best for the future.”
He continued: “Marketing is an ongoing process. We offer a tailored, on demand service that allows businesses access to their very own marketing team; providing flexible support when you need it, all year round. A great starting point for businesses requiring more information is to attend one of our Marketing Surgeries.”
The Start and Grow programme is delivered by TEDCO Business Support in the North East and is supported by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The programme is delivered throughout England by Cavendish Enterprise in areas where there are lower levels of business start-up to help new enterprises get up and running and develop new employment opportunities in the private sector with a range of services, including one-to-one mentoring, business planning and helping new ventures get investment ready.
For more information on TEDCO Business Support and how Start and Grow or Virgin StartUp can help kick-start a new enterprise, please visit www.tedco.org.
Pulse Creative Marketing holds FREE Marketing Surgeries across the North East at Business Central Darlington, North East BIC – Sunderland, Durham Office Services and Sage, Gateshead. The surgeries provide complete marketing solutions ranging from brand development, website design, to support in developing your marketing strategy.
For more information on how Pulse can help with your marketing, get in touch: