From redundancy to recovery: How Tom Maunder turned around his independent garage

In this article: A strong, solid team. High satisfaction rates. A family-run atmosphere. Tom Maunder's award-winning Scuffed Up has lessons for many garage and workshop owners...

When Tom Maunder found himself redundant at Christmas 2016, it was a case of history repeating itself. The paint shop technician from south Wales had previously lost his jobs working for two different car manufacturers at the same time of year.

Following a spell where he was “working for any old back street garage trying to make my way”, Tom got a job at a Chips Away franchise in Llansamlet, near Swansea. Just over a year in, the business foundered and he was out of work yet again.

However, this time adversity turned into an opportunity. The owners of the franchise decided to put the whole workshop up for sale. As Tom explains, “I had a chat with my parents and see if there was any money we could rally together and see if we could make a go of it. We got together what we could, gave them the offer and much to our surprise they snapped our hands off.”

Even so, this left Tom and his parents, Alun and Thea, trying to make their mark with a business that had previously failed. “We're quite fortunate,” says Tom. “Old customers living in the area were coming back down here expecting Chips Away. When we explained to them that we're still the same team, we're just a different company now, they were still happy to have the work done by us.“

The team, now called Scuffed Up, soon found word of mouth playing to its advantage. Good reviews of its work helped expand the client base, and Scuffed Up uses online marketing to good effect too. It has active Facebook and Instagram channels, to which the family regularly posts examples of its work. “We're starting to make waves now. We're becoming quite established, and people know who we are,” says Tom.

Tom puts part of Scuffed Up's success to the fact it is a family business. People, he says, aren't so trusting of massive global businesses that are just after their money. They like a family-run firm where everything seems more personal. “We try to be as polite and convenient to our customers as we can. If there are any issues we try to resolve them, we try to keep a high satisfaction rate, going above and beyond what we can to ensure everyone goes out happy.”

The business relies on a strong team too. “We're very choosy with who we have,” Tom notes.
“Being a small business we can't have slackers and people who drag their feet; it's got to be a strong, solid team where we all pull together.” It's a model that clearly works – Tom mentions that one apprentice was tempted away by another company, only to return within days due to the working conditions.

Although it's been a remarkable turnaround for the family-run Scuffed Up, it's far from complete. Tom, who won the IMI's Outstanding Individual Achievement award last month, still has big plans for the company's future.

“We're still a long way off, but what we've achieved in the past two years is a miracle. We're not just wanting to stand still, we want to blow everyone out of the water with what we can achieve.”

Tom Maunder was presented with IMI’s Outstanding Individual Achievement award at this year’s IMI Annual Dinner. A huge thank-you to our fabulous Annual Dinner sponsors, including headline sponsor Remit Group. Thanks to you all: SnapOn; London Motor & Tech Show 2019; Shell Helix Ultra; Saffron Insurance; Autotech Recruit; Alphera; Enterprise Rent-a-Car; BNP Paribas Cardif.  

To get involved with the IMI's centenary Annual Dinner in 2020, contact Wendy Hennessy.