By Debbie Holden 27 Dec 2018 6 min read

A day in the life of an Area Workshop Manager


How long have you been at Arrow Self Drive?

I have worked at Arrow all of my working life. I started as an apprentice mechanic aged 15. After qualifying and spending five years at our Huddersfield depot I moved around the other depots building up different skills. In Bradford I learnt on the rental desk and all about customer service. I spent a few months being guided by our now MD in sales at our Wakefield depot. After this I went out on the road as a mobile mechanic before coming back to Wakefield to start as the first mechanic in the new Wakefield workshop in 2005. I steadily built up the garage and as we grew we employed more mechanics and I was promoted to foreman, then manager and eventually became area manager five years ago at the age of thirty. It’s been a great 20 years!


What do you love most about your job?

I love it that every day is different and I get involved in all aspects of the business. I have literally done almost every job across the company from valeting to rental reception, business development, breakdowns and sales. I have even got my hands dirty unblocking drains and cleaning toilets. I have input into rental issues, I manage two workshops and also have strategic input into matters such as process and strategy. Over the years I have seen a lot of changes with technology and I get very involved in implementing new systems such as our estimating and workshops paperless systems. I still do recovery work and even man the emergency telephone line out of hours. I also love the banter, it has to be said, I am probably the biggest wind up merchant around and like to make people around me smile, after all, we spend more time at work than we do at home, its important to be happy.


What does a normal day look like?

There is no such thing as a normal day here. Every night before I finish work I write a list of ‘to dos’ for the next day but I rarely get through it because within an hour of getting to work everything has changed. I either get called to help my MD with sales of our ex fleet, or I am asked to prep some vehicles for the auction and do the paperwork or I get called to other depots or workshops to trouble shoot or estimate some damage.  In between that I have management meetings, and occasional breakdowns to attend. I also deal with one of our biggest customers and manage their account. As I say, there is no normal day, and that’s what I really love about this job.


What makes you so good at your job?

My team, the people I work with and fellow workshop manager Tony Dawson. I am only as good as they are. I have personally set on every single mechanic in our workshop and have trained half of them from being young apprentices. I have seen them develop professionally and grow personally. Many of them came here as kids, as I did myself, and it is rewarding to watch them progress. It’s also heart-warming to see them grow up , marry and have children of their own. In my mind a good manager is not about telling people what to do, its about leading by example. I would never ask any of my team to do something I wasn’t prepare to do myself.  I like to make everyone I work with smile and I know I annoy them, but I do get results. I am a great believer that you get a lot more out of people if you can make them smile; if they have fun, they work harder. I can come down hard on them if they do something wrong, but I enjoy a joke. I use humour to de-stress them. If I was to get stressed and shout, I would not see that as a good example, I try to lead by example.


What advice would you give to someone considering a job in your industry?

I think if you train as a mechanic you will never be out of work. There is a distinct lack of skilled mechanics and more jobs than qualified people.  The industry is screaming out for them. Colleges are finding that young people aren’t applying for apprenticeships in this area any more. And don’t think that if you become a technician you will be stuck in that job forever, like me, if you find a great company like Arrow to work for, you can progress and gain other skills. The only downside to being a mechanic is that all of your family will want you to work on their cars in your spare time!