How this family-run MOT centre built a reputation with Google reviews
When it comes to getting an MOT, some people might already have their mechanic’s number stored in their contacts list but many search online to find the details for their local garage. Portsdown MOT has been catering to both loyal repeat customers and scrambling first-timers for generations – and now, with Google My Business, the established family firm is reaching new customers at speed.
Some of Portsdown MOT's earliest customers now have children or even grandchildren getting their annual check-up from the garage, with Peter Roberts – now 79 – still driving the business he founded in 1963. Although this is a traditional operation, it’s been building up an impressive reputation on Google My Business over the past few years – something that kept the company thriving in 2020.
“There are quite a lot of competing repair businesses in the local area, and when they start up they’re typically quite aggressive with their pricing,” explains Peter’s son Michael, who works as an engineering consultant as well as helping with the business. “But once they get people through the doors they can upsell unnecessary repairs. We value honesty and loyalty – we want to keep the customers coming back.” The business also relies on phone rather than email – making a presence on Google My Business crucial. “Within the last five years, we’ve noticed that a lot of people use their phones to find services, and we’ve found Google very useful,” says Michael. The garage is the highest-rated in the local area, with more than 30 five-star reviews on Google Maps.
An added complication for garages during the COVID-19 pandemic was that MOTs were given an automatic six-month extension as lockdown began in March 2020, meaning a lull over early summer and then a sudden rush in August and September – something that Google business listings helped Portsdown MOT handle by keeping opening hours, contact information, and safety measures clear and visible.
One advantage Portsdown offers over many garages is a drive-through service – customers can typically drive in and out with an MOT within about 45 minutes. “For most people, when they look up MOT centres on Google, it’s because they need the service urgently,” says Michael. “Our drive-through service is something we actively promote.”
In the future, Portsdown plans to continue to provide good value, and speedy MOTs, reaching out to a larger audience using Google My Business. Though many people Peter’s age are retired, his interest in the business keeps him going. “When we started, this area was just a village,” he says. “Everyone knew everyone. Now, things don’t work like that – and that’s why getting accurate information to people is so crucial.”