25 Feb 2024

What’s in a name?

The phrase ‘does what it says on the tin’ expresses that a product or service offers exactly what is advertised, and required. On that basis, Premier MOT Training, based on two sites in Hockley, Essex and near Derby, would seem to be pretty explicit in the services you would expect it provides to the motor sector. Sometimes though, a name will only tell you a small part of what is being offered as Director at Premier MOT Training Donna Chapman observed: “We are an automotive training company that specialises in MOT training, but we also do F-Gas training, and hybrid training as well, and more.”
The Essex site, based on a industrial estate in the small town outside Southend-on-Sea is the company’s H.Q, and fields 10 staff, with three in the Midlands. “This is where all the bookings go through. Every student or garage that contacts us will be dealt with in the office upstairs. We are the busier centre, being next to London, and with the M25 nearby, running about 30% more courses here than we do in our Midlands site every week.
“We do the MOT Tester entry qualification every other week and then we do a MOT Site Manager course every two weeks. We do a motorcycle course every two weeks as well. Those are the core courses, but like I said, we do run other courses and a hybrid course as well.” There are three rooms on-site for the class-based training. “We have one smaller room upstairs, and two big classrooms downstairs where we can have up to eight students, two laptops per student, with a projector.”

Obviously, with the training being undertaken, it is not all theoretical, and the site includes a large workshop area, including four MOT bays. The site is a real working MOT station, and is also used for commercial purposes in the evenings and weekends, as Donna explained: “We work with two local businesses who serve contracts for the County Council, taxi fleets  etc. We’ve got a good relationship with them because rather than investing £50,000 to £100,000 setting up a MOT station, they rent out our bays.” It also helps Premier MOT Training to have real MOTs being performed on-site: “In order to keep compliant, we have to have a live MOT bay. All my trainers have to keep their live testing status in order to be compliant. You’ve got to do a quality check on each of your testers too. This means we need a live MOT bay, so it is a win-win. When one of our trainers is doing an MOT, we can QC them, or we can use that as part of a course to Quality Control check somebody else, and then it goes onto the system.”
Donna continued: “Our busiest courses are always MOT, hence why we have run them every week since the pandemic. We used to run groups of nine, but since COVID-19 we keep them below eight just because then they get a desk each and a laptop each, without banging elbows.”
While MOT training is the core offering, the business is keen to promote its wider training, and is looking to push in this direction in the next few months. “We are currently building a new website. We currently have two websites. our MOT Annual Assessment site, which is www.annualtraining.co.uk, and we’re currently merging that into our Premier MOT website.”    
There are also new courses on the horizon:“We’re about to do a pilot in December with Ian Gillgrass, which is going to be launching us as becoming accredited with the IMI. We’re going to launch a IMI-accredited diagnostic IMI accredited course for Level 3. Obviously we do offer the hybrid and the F-Gas as well. We are trying to put it out there more about hybrid and F-Gas.”

That’s not all: “We had a first-generation Toyota Prius here, and we kept it as a historical talking-point, because people still don’t believe the first hybrid vehicle ,the Toyota Prius, was first released in 1998. People were just still shocked that. Types of vehicles that in our sector we tend to think of as new have been out on our road for 25 years. We’ve still got 70% in the market to train up in this area, which is quite surprising. We try and keep our cars to pretty much what our students see. We could go out and buy brand new cars, but none of our students are ever going to do a test on that or ever do any servicing on it. We are not keeping a brand-new EV though, because that’s not relatable to our students. They won’t be seeing them. They won’t need an MOT or a service in an independent for some time. We try and find something around seven years old because that’s what they’re going to be getting in their workshop.”

Looking at what Premier MOT Training will be looking to achieve during 2023, Donna added: “We’ve really put ourselves about lately, and will continue to do so. We were at the UK Garage and Bodyshop Event at the NEC in June, we were reception drinks sponsor at the Top Technician and Top Garage Awards Evening in October, and we will be at Automechanika Birmingham in 2023. We’ve gone for a bigger stand, and we are going to try and bring two bikes along because we noticed there was no bikes there last year.” They will also look to grow the team: “We’re going to look at taking on another trainer and another member of staff in the office. We don’t have sales staff – They are Training Consultants. They are not selling a product, they are supporting garages around their trading needs.”
Donna added: “If we don’t feel like it’s the right course for someone, we won’t book them on it. We are all about matching a candidate for the right kind of course.”

For more information, visit: www.premiermot.com