Major New Investment Expansion In Progress

Here at Hartech we have a superb reputation for providing the very best services for the purchase and maintenance of older Porsche's. We are now in the process of creating - probably the most efficient facility for the independent Porsche market ever in the UK - enabling us to continue to combine the lowest overheads with the widest and most affordable customer orientated range of services available. How and why? - please allow us a few paragraphs to explain.

With Official Porsche centres selling and servicing new models, their need for appropriately smart workshops inevitably results in high overheads. While they often offer lower rates for work on older cars - there is no doubt that it is more often the independent sector of the Porsche specialist market that specifically tailor their operation to cater for the different needs of older cars. This is both somewhat inevitable and sensible - as the older a car becomes the more labour intensive any remedial work may be. The lower the overheads that they can operate with -the more affordable the services are to owners who probably have fewer funds available for car repairs anyway.

Newer cars rarely need extensive repairs and the service replacement parts are easily predictable enabling their length of stay in expensive workshops to be limited. Older cars however - present a logistical problem to all repair centres. They begin to require much more varied and labour intensive work - resulting in higher costs. Furthermore - it is more likely that delays will occur while the customer is contacted to authorise the repair costs necessary or some more unusual spare parts are sourced. Often the car will have been partially stripped at this stage and immobilised - taking up expensive ramp space -earning nothing. This would present difficulties to a small independent operation where that space is needed for the next job and the range of parts stocked is limited.

The only solution to this is to have a huge range of spares available off the shelf and a lot of ramps and workshop space, but both can only be accommodated in a large operation - which tends to contradict the "low overhead" principle - usually increasing costs.

These logistical problems have either handicapped many independent operations from sufficient growth, or if they have expanded, they often then become too expensive again and unable to devote as much time to the older cars, as they need. Together with the problems of handling increasingly demanding customers (having less money to spend on cars that have deteriorated more and therefore need more doing to them to keep them running), some independent specialists have resorted to selling off or sub - contracting their workshops to concentrate on sales. This inevitably distances them from up to date knowledge of current problems and limits their ability to carry out expensive sales preparatory work and after sales support. Others have a small "token" workshop - but no real interest in the workshop or sufficient turnover to compete with a larger operation - sales is their main interest.

In contrast - far from avoiding these problems - we have always had a much larger workshop than showroom. This clearly reinforces our belief in the link between the quality of our workmanship (and the quality of the cars we service, repair and prepare for sale) and the success of the business - by taking on possibly the largest workshop facilities in the Independent Porsche market in the Country - finally securing a permanent base.

All models develop problems with time and the more cars you come into contact with, the easier it is to work out which problems are isolated and which will become re-occurrences that require special attention. Often the solution to a new problem takes time to reach, after which the next car with the same problem becomes easy to diagnose. With possibly more service and repair customers than any other independent operation, as new problems emerge, we are at the forefront of this process (as we were with the 16 Valve 944 camshaft problems and developing successful replacement wishbone ball joints - for example - both of which have benefited countless customers by avoiding unnecessary damage and lowering replacement costs).

Our philosophy of putting the "engineering" first continues with double the original space (to 13,000 square feet). Also, differences in the costs of premises, houses and the cost of living in the NorthWest have enabled us to provide exceptional quality of services and workmanship at very reasonable prices. This has increasingly encouraged customers to bring their Porsche's long distances from all over the UK (and even Europe), finding that temporary travel inconvenience is more than compensated for by the value for money and indeed the care and attention they receive. This is particularly beneficial when a car needs several replacement parts (such as belts, a clutch or a water pump for example) that - combined with a service -qualify for considerable price reductions that justify the cost and inconvenience of travelling. These new facilities provide increased capacity and in addition to all the original services, will also incorporate the following improvements: -

(1) 10 lifting ramps. (2) Tyre supply & fitting. (3) Electronic wheel balancing. (4) Engine/Gearbox assembly room. (5) 3000 sq ft of stores space. (6) Laser 4 * wheel alignment. (7) Engineering machine shop and manufacturing area. (8) Automated parts cleaner in purpose built room. (9) Heated reception. (10) Gas central heated workshops. (11) Exhaust gas extraction. (12) Larger indoor showroom. (13) Allocated parking. (14) Disabled facilities and access. (15) Push button remote automatic workshop access. (16) Security - incorporating Red Care, Video recording, multiple TV continuous monitoring, radio back up transmission, anti-ram bars etc. (17) Car transporter collection & delivery services at subsidised rates.

Although we have always invested in our various leased premises, we were always held back by the comparatively short terms involved. The permanence of our new home presents no such limitations -enabling us to justify the implementation of many good ideas that we have had for several years. This is a major part of the overall difference between other specialists and us. Having always tried to build a very efficient base, we were aware that special major structural changes would render the operation even more efficient than before and that the layout, drainage, lighting, etc have all been carefully considered and meticulously planned to enable future running costs to be minimised.

However - if all that structural work had been carried out in advance by building sub-contractors - it would have cost so much that it would again increase costs and the resulting hourly labour rate significantly.

Instead we have carried out all the work ourselves gradually over many months. Indeed there is still a great deal left to do - but by working within the new environment it has been possible to fine tune the ideas as things are gradually improved. By being prepared to work hard over many months - the result will be the very best facility available to owners of older Porsche's - provided at a very moderate cost -enabling us to continue to devote more expert time to customers needs at prices that will be unbeatable.

Although it may not be ideal right now for customers to be received while building work is continuing - the long-term benefits will more than compensate for any short-term inconvenience and existing customers -already appreciating this - have been extremely supportive. Furthermore recent re-investment in a new integrated networked computer system will ensure that the unrivalled quality of management information and records systems will continue to provide an unbeatable data-base of information on hundreds of cars, enabling the highest quality of planned maintenance to be accomplished. As well as the improvements listed above there are several other important changes that are planned in time.

For many years we have not competed head on with the main agents, by selling our newest "Hartech" cars when their age rendered them arguably just too old for operations set up to sell brand new cars (i.e. there is a mileage and age limit beyond which many agents do not sell cars and they sell on older part exchange cars to independent organisations instead). This has usually been at around 4 -5 years old and older. We felt that our philosophy, facilities, experience, lower overheads and costs - were more suitable for the older models and were comfortable supplying a tailor made service - taking over where the main agents seemed to restrict their services.

However we have also been increasingly disappointed at the initial condition of relatively new cars that we have serviced and repaired or have brought up to our standards to sell. We were shocked to find that 4 year old cars needed the wheels to be kicked off the hubs (because they were stuck) and the cross drilled discs had never been cleaned out etc, until we realised that our interpretation of the service schedule requirements - could be quite different.

For example - where a 12K service states to conduct a "visual inspection of the discs and pads" - we interpret that as removing all wheels, freeing the pads, cleaning out any crossed drilled holes, lubricating the wheel nuts, threads and mating faces, re-assembling and torquing the wheel nuts, etc (taking perhaps 20 mins/car). To others it may mean to look past the wheels at the discs behind (taking perhaps 20 secs/car - or if the mileage is low and the pad warning lights are not on - doing absolutely nothing). This approach could be mirrored in many other areas - making our interpretation take perhaps 20 times longer. The benefit of our interpretation is that we have checked everything and lubricated all sorts of parts so by next time the car comes in (and for years to come) everything comes apart beautifully. The other interpretation results in the service (which is probably at a similar price) being very profitable for those cutting corners - in the short term. Eventually - when new discs or pads are needed - cars looked after "our way" are easy to work on - but the others cause problems with seized bolts, corroded parts and general decline. Perhaps at this point they have generally moved on to the independent sector anyway - who are more used to dealing with the problems of older cars.

Then there are some jobs listed that are simply not done by some service providers. We frequently come to remove - say and exhaust - to gain access to an engine to check tappets or replace an oil filter - to discover seized and rusted bolts that snap - because they haven't been removed for years. Those that previously ignored the work made more profit to spend on more advertising etc - but for the cars involved - eventually someone picks up the extra cost of remedial work when something more involved is required and the job is done properly. So - many specialists - short cut - the work required on newer cars (because they believe that they are too new to make any immediate difference especially in the time scale that the owner is likely to keep the car) hoping that they will get away with it in the short term.

We realised from all this that many cars would have been in better condition if we utilised the extra time that our lower overheads offer to practice our more thorough approach at an earlier stage. However if some operations are short cutting work on newer cars, this once again raises the problem of costs and competitiveness for anyone doing the work properly and reliably. We know of some very conscientious independent service centres that have closed down because they could not make it pay because they would not compromise their standards in a competitively priced market. Indeed there is a strange scenario becoming more relevant in this ever increasingly technological world. Those that short cut work, make more money to spend on media advertising - attracting more customers and squeezing out their legitimate reliable competitors. Furthermore - the price that the public expect to pay (now more competitive thanks to published price lists, menu pricing and internet access) is becoming set more by those doing a cheap job because they can afford more prolific advertising. This is making the future for many solid and reliable businesses - bleak.

Most owners believe that their choice is between an expensive supplier who will at least do the job properly and an inexpensive one that might cut a few corners - but our experience has shown that -although that scenario is often true - increasingly the complete opposite is also often true. It is possible to pay a lot for very mediocre work or pay quite modest amounts for extremely good workmanship.

We used to set our stall out to fit in between those options and to provide the quality and care that would normally be expected to be associated with the expensive supplier but at prices that are comparable with the less expensive end of the market. But - as we have moved up market to newer cars - we are beginning to realise that not only are we less expensive than most - but we also do a far better job - giving DOUBLE THE BENEFIT of the highest quality at very competitive prices. Furthermore suppliers that expect to lose customers as cars age -may well not worry too much about the consequences of that short cut workmanship - but our commitment to older cars and cost base maintains customers throughout the life of a car. We therefore have a vested interest in keeping the quality at the highest level at all times.

The protective trading practices of "main agents" and warranty clauses have previously handicapped independents from selling and servicing new cars. However recent European legislation is both challenging the monopoly supply of new models by main agents (resulting in some independents already offering brand new Porsche's for sale) and ensuring that previously protective measures to keep secret both technical information and special tools - will not be tolerated. They intend to make sure that such technology must be opened up to independent service centres as well in future (and not before time).

However we feel that there will still be a tendency for owners of newer cars to want to preserve a "main agent service history" as they assume that it will influence re-sale value - so it is at this moment difficult to anticipate if and how that may change when more independents are supplying and servicing new cars.

We are still the only specialist offering a "Lifetime Maintenance Plan" that enables customers to pay for their future servicing needs by moderate monthly instalments while contributing a small amount to an "insurance type fund" to cover the future labour costs of not only anything that goes wrong with the car, but also anything that simply wears out or fails. This fantastic scheme enables those who may experience a serious problem to avoid huge labour costs because they are already covered under the scheme. It also means that - having prepared the car for sale - or having totally checked it over - we then share the consequences of any unexpected future failures, by carrying out the labour for any repairs at our costs.

No other specialist offers their own customers such a sincere demonstration of their commitment to their complete satisfaction. Furthermore - since any additional work necessary would be at our cost - no other specialist offers such a demonstration of their confidence in their own quality and workmanship -that their service and repair work or sales car preparation is so thorough - that such occurrences are negligible.

With the unique "Lifetime Maintenance Plan" having been so well received and with the vast majority of our sale cars returning to us for re-sale and remaining in our care for many years - there could be many advantages in looking after cars from new and throughout their whole life. So our future policy may well change to embrace all ages of cars - even new ones - in time. At present - despite the recent increase in capacity - we are still working flat out trying to cope with the demand for work on cars around 4 years old and older - so the ultimate decision is still under consideration.

One thing is certain (and will become more clear as this guide unfolds the unique differences between us and any other competitor) - that there is no better place to buy your Porsche from and no better place to have it serviced or repaired. Everything possible has been done to ensure that the time and facilities are available to carry out the work required in the most contentious way without the resulting costs becoming prohibitive and with the best and most comprehensive back up available anywhere supplied with the highest integrity by the most helpful and dedicated staff.

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