Case Study: Just Car Clinics

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Health and safety for myself and every team member is key because we are in a workshop environment and we’ve got to be very mindful of how they work with each other and the position of everything within the workshop.

We believe firmly that it’s a two way conversation that we require to be having with our workers not just on health and safety matters which is a big important part of it as far as I am concerned.

The company believe philosophy regardless if you’re a car valeter or you’re a manager everybody inputs the same.

With the worker involvement and the Committee side of it it’s a case of getting people more involved people that actually working amongst erm the repair the workshops day in day out.  So they’ve got a better idea than I would have that Andy would have at the moment of exactly what we need to be looking at, and if there are any issues that we haven’t picked up on.

And we also look to integrate them into our culture which we run as culture club within the company which is very important from a Directors downwards right down to wherever you want to go with it really.  Culture club is done that we’re trying to or we are constantly looking at the culture within the business and one of the features of it which is one of a lot of features with it is the Senior Directors go out and visit sites and have erm what is in effect a coffee morning on site so that there’s a dialogue going on between individual sites.  We have a joined up attitude throughout the business on where we are looking at with the company and where it is going forward from that.

Health and safety now the guys out there they are conscious of it now.  There’s changes in legislation they are asking for training.

People that don’t know stuff about health and safety does go it their way the way they have been shown but obviously with us being here we’re getting shown things new every single day.  There’s new masks coming out, new eye protection, new gloves.

The team once you get talking to them are very very vocal erm because that’s the way that we work we are very open.  Erm everybody is on first name terms.  If something is wrong they’ve got access to myself to Barry, mobile phone sometimes even home number.

And a constant stream of information going in both directions so that we are not just feeding information downwards into the company but we are actually getting err feedback from our workers and workforce on areas that we can improve on.

They do need to have if you like they’re say because they are the people that are involved day-to-day on the workshop floor.  No point me sitting on the Committee and answering questions or looking at areas for the workshop floor because I don’t work there.

It’s just bringing out new ideas all the time.

If something needs to change they will tell us from coffee machine broken to we’ve got a major health and safety risk here.  We will action it.  There’s no issue about it we do action it.

The Working Committees are a large part of what we’re incorporating into culture club really within the business it’s a big step forward for the company to err to move down this direction.

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Just Car Clinics is the second largest independent chain of collision repair centres in the UK, specialising in motor collision repair and accident damage rectification for cars, vans and motorbikes. There are 26 sites throughout northern, eastern and central England with approximately 620 staff, servicing around 45,000 vehicles a year.

The problem

Barry Whittles, Chief Executive, and his team recognised that with technology evolving so quickly it was imperative for Just Car Clinics to keep pace if it was to grow successfully and profitably. Health and safety issues are part of this development, and staff needed to be thoroughly involved in the company’s approach.

The solution

Management realised that training was the cornerstone in the growth and development of the business and their employees’ involvement with it. With this in mind in 2005 Just Car Clinics set up the industry’s first-ever dedicated training centre, based in Goole. The aim: to provide state-ofthe- art training and support in one place, providing workshops and courses to improve employees’ knowledge of all aspects of the business and strengthen their involvement at all levels in its operations. High on the agenda was a robust health and safety element.

Dawn Swales, HR & Training Manager, explains, “Health and safety is key because we’re a workshop environment, so everyone has to be aware of how they work with each other.”

Dawn has overseen the training and welfare of staff till now, outsourcing advice from MVRA (The Motor Vehicle Repair Association). However, as the group moves on to the next stage Andrew Firbank, previously General Manager of a Just Car Clinics branch, has been promoted to Group Compliance Manager. One of his principal tasks is to move the company forward with regard to worker involvement on health and safety issues.

Andrew says “We already have what is known throughout the company as ‘Culture Club’. Culture Club is an ever evolving element. It enables us to look at the culture within the business constantly and move forward.”

As part of this process Andrew is currently setting up the first Health and Safety Committee at the Goole training site. It includes both management and workforce, and will be a blueprint for sites throughout the company,

“The working committee is a large part of what we are incorporating into Culture Club. Setting up the committee is my immediate focus,” Andrew continues.

“The committees will allow staff to take ownership of their safety in the workplace, so it becomes a two-way process to take us to the next level.”

“To date we’ve avoided any serious accidents. We want that to continue and we see improved worker involvement as key – they’re on the shop floor, they see the hazards and every one of our workforce has the knowledge of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. We want them to know they can make a difference.”

Chris McGowan, Just Car Clinics Technical Trainer and the only in-house trainer in the country within the industry, says “The staff are very conscious of health and safety now and they’re asking for training. We find that when we cover health and safety in training our workforce often highlight areas within their own sites. They take the information back with them and implement new measures. With increased worker involvement this can only improve.”

Ever mindful of the future, the company runs an apprenticeship scheme employing raw young talent that can be trained, nurtured and integrated into the Just Car Clinics culture, including its health and safety policies. All staff are required to be trained to ASA level (Automotive Technician Accreditation) and, once qualified, are rewarded with an increase in salary.

The outcome

“Our approach has already resulted in lower insurance premiums, fewer lost working hours and higher workforce morale – but we still want to get better,” says Andrew. “We’re already reaping the benefits of involving our staff in our health and safety development through training, but we believe there is always room for improvement - and that is our aim. The working committee is the next big step forward for the company.”

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