By Debbie Holden 25 Feb 2013 7 min read

What’s it like working for Halfords Autocentres?


James Dickens Head of HR Halfords AutocentresWe put this question to James Dickens, Head of Human Resources at Halfords Autocentres, and he’s given us some brilliant insights. It seems the company has been expanding its network of garages recently, and is on the lookout for qualified technicians, MOT testers, Centre Managers and Regional General Managers. The company prides itself on the trust it has built up with customers all over the UK, with surveys showing that over 8 out of 10 customers would recommend Halfords Autocentres to a friend.



How would you describe the culture at Halfords Autocentres?

From our Support Centre to the 271 garages – there will be 285 by April 2013 – that make up the Autocentres network, it’s an extremely welcoming and supportive business to work for. Our 1,850 staff are a tightly knit and down to earth group – many of whom are on first name terms with senior management – which helps foster the team spirit you need to succeed in a demanding and highly competitive sector like ours.

Even our headquarters is called the Support Centre – which is quite deliberate and recognises that it’s the job of those based there to ensure that hard-working colleagues in the field are provided with the skills and materials they need to deliver work to the high standards expected of them.


What kinds of automotive roles do you recruit for?

There are a range of roles and responsibilities at Halfords Autocentres. Since we have our own award winning apprenticeship programme to nurture fresh talent, we predominantly recruit qualified Technicians, MOT Testers, Centre Managers and Regional General Managers. No-one else is growing at the rate our business is, so we are continually looking for good people who are passionate about customer service and doing a really great job.


What kind of person would do well at Halfords Autocentres?

For us a person with the ‘right stuff’ is someone who has a can-do attitude and is willing to go the extra mile in order to put customers’ needs first. We are all goal-oriented, whether the goal is meeting business targets or developing our career further within the business, but put customer service first and goals will look after themselves.

With the majority of our colleagues working in small teams, a friendly and approachable manner is also essential. This not only helps ensure teamwork but means that we create positive advocates for both the company and brand within the local communities in which we work.

Many of our centre managers are running multi-million pound businesses, so people aspiring to become one, or to move into senior management roles, also need to demonstrate that they have an entrepreneurial spirit and can identify and develop business opportunities as well as managing the profit and loss account to ensure we turn great service into great profit!


How does the company help employees achieve their potential?

Our rate of growth is such that we require a blend of internal development and external recruitment to meet our personnel needs, so succession is really important to us. We are always looking for new ways to help individuals with the desire to move up the ladder and achieve their goals.
We help our technicians obtain and maintain their Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) – the national voluntary scheme which is an endorsement of competence for individuals working in the retail automotive industry – and will be introducing e-learning for technicians later this year.

Working closely with The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) we ensure that training is delivered across the business in line with industry best practice standards and tackle skills gaps where they arise to ensure we have the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time.

In addition, because the career path at Halfords Autocentres enables Centre Managers to become Regional Managers – taking responsibility for up to 15 individual garages – these individuals also benefit from a mentoring programme and bespoke training that equips them for the responsibility of multi-centre management.


What would be your best interview tip to a Halfords Autocentres hopeful?

Preparation is key. Do some research, find out more about us and come to the interview prepared to talk about both the business and why you’re the right person to join it. In the current job market it’s not hard to see why some people are just looking for work – any work! However, we’re looking for people who want a career not just a job, so it’s important that this comes across during the interview.


If Halfords Autocentres was a car, what would it be?

A Range Rover Evoque – because it has the heritage and robust engineering that customers have come to expect from a great British brand like Land Rover but surprises people by delivering these qualities in a dynamic, stylish and thoroughly modern package. It meets the needs of today’s drivers and in doing so has become very successful.