Dave Calladine of Top gear Autos tells us about the last two years, since setting up his Garage at Boussac Bourg.
We arrived in La Creuse 5 years ago and jumped straight in to renovating our new French home. We’d done our homework before we left and decided that we could spend the first year renovating and then think about work and income after that.
3 and a half years ago, my wife Bev restarted the internet business that she had been running in the UK, selling crystals, minerals and jewellery. The plan was that I would become a collaborateur in the crystals business and maybe a small shop but over time that changed. We decided to keep the internet business as it is ‘cos Bev didn’t have the time to run a shop since she’d decided that she would become a rock chick at herhumph years old and join a band!! That meant I could follow my real passion, Cars! Having started by building and racing bomber cars in my youth, I learned fast how to rebuild wrecks and subsequently spent many years as a garage mechanic. Despite a career change to pay the mortgage and finance my daughter’s wardrobe, I’ve always kept my hand in, servicing and fixing cars on a small scale and I was determined to open my own garage. I contacted my local Chambre de Metier to get more information. They told me about the new Auto Entrepreneur system (AE) and in November 2008, I set the ball rolling and started work on building and kitting out my garage workshop.
In February 2009, I officially registered my business.
I’d done a little marketing and had cards and flyers printed and distributed in anticipation of the business opening. As well as the expected mix of car servicing and repairs, I get asked to repair allsorts, from breathing new life into worn out chainsaws and cement mixers, to fixing punctures on a 5ft high tractor tyre!
I have an increasing number of French customers but the bulk of my trade has been amongst the expat community who have found it difficult to explain the knocking from the whotsit to their local garage.
Many Brits, including me, have been spoiled by the small, local garages that we often stumbled upon in the UK and recognise what good value they were in comparison to many French garages. Parts in particular, can be expensive, especially for imported cars and labour charges are high amongst the dealerships, so the fact that I have a small garage with low overheads and suppliers in the UK is a big advantage in terms of cost.
“Language is often a problem for my clients and I am regularly asked to book the car in for CT or act as liaison with the CT garage to discover exactly what work needs doing to pass. It’s great to be able to offer this type of flexibility and service to my customers as it adds to the feeling of a job well done” All these factors have contributed to a healthy start for my humble little business and I’ve been delighted with the large number of word of mouth recommendations that I’ve had.
It became evident very early that there was a need for sensibly priced tyres and I have since set up supply chains throughout local Europe, with delivery is within a few days. Fitting is inexpensive and speedy.
TOP GEAR AUTOS
0555 65 1924