Ellis & Co case study: Foregate Garage Ltd

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Running the only city centre garage in Chester is a husband and wife team determined to maintain its family-run ethos.

Foregate Garage, which has a loyal customer base and is renowned for quality, honesty and friendliness, is owned and run by Paul and Gemma Bailey.

“The garage has been in business for over 50 years,” said Gemma, who looks after all the administration side of the business.

“Paul worked here as a mechanic for 18 years prior to us purchasing the garage in 2017.

“When the opportunity came up to take over we had to jump at the challenge.”

The garage, based on Foregate Street, Chester, offers its customers a range of services including vehicle repair, MOTs, services, tyres, diagnostic testing and most recently a breakdown service.

“We now have a recovery vehicle so we can collect breakdowns, we also use a reliable recovery service when we are too busy or the job is too big for us,” said Gemma.

“It's really important to us that we work alongside other people in our trade and sharing knowledge.

“One of our lads has a saying: ‘every day is a school day, you are always learning’”.

For mechanic Paul his day to day tasks all revolve around an engine of some sort, which includes a yearly MOT visit from a Ferrari, Aston Martin and a Bentley.

His most ‘memorable’ job was when a vintage wedding car needed refurbished parts, the team had a ‘nail biting time’ waiting for the parts to arrive… just in time for the big day!

Gemma admits that location is key, and opening up before office hours at 8am gives customers the flexibility they need.

“Being located in the city centre is perfect for our customers, most cars are dropped off in the morning and picked up later in the day, some will pop off to the shops,” said Gemma.

“The most satisfying part of the job for us all is happy customers.

“We have some fabulous customers, our customer base is predominately loyal returning customers and recommendations.

“I think with Paul being there so long they feel like they know him, and in turn know me, which is lovely,” she added.

Not only were the couple celebrating becoming business owners back in February 2017, but also at becoming first-time parents.

“It was a busy time, our daughter was six months old when we bought the garage,” said Gemma.

“It is a challenge, but now as a business owner I can work around child care and get to spend every morning with our daughter, I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was working full time. 

“Paul works a lot more hours than me, he’s done really well and I’m proud of him.

“It’s been a learning curve, although I’m used to management, being your own boss is a completely different ball game!” added Gemma.

It was during the initial process of buying the garage that Paul and Gemma met with Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers.

“We had a free initial consultation with Robert Ellis and John Moorhouse, they were both so helpful, informative and approachable we had to use them.

“John is our accountant and is so easy to contact doesn't make me feel like my questions are daft.

“Book keeping, accounts, payroll, tax and VAT have never been part of my previous job roles so I had no idea what I was doing when I started.

“It’s quite scary when you realise you have the responsibility to pay your employees!

“The team were very supportive during the start-up process.

“I would definitely recommend Ellis & Co.”

For further information about Foregate Garage click here.