The follow-up call, late on a Friday, that can make all the difference
Garage Watch: Brady’s Cavan, Skoda and SEAT, Dublin Road, Cavan.
The Brady name has long been associated with the garage business here, going right back to its beginnings as a Volkswagen dealership in 1961 in the small Cavan village of Arva. Subsequently it expanded into Cavan town and then into Dublin.
The family-owned business's most recent expansion has been its appointment last summer as sales and after-sales dealers for Skoda and SEAT brands at its premises in Cavan town.
Three years ago Bradys of Arva celebrated its 50th birthday by winning the 2011 Volkswagen service quality award for Ireland. Garage Watch was keen to see whether this achievement would be reflected in the Dublin Rd showrooms today.
The premises are clean and well maintained, with adequate customer parking space and bright, open showrooms.
It provides comfortable customer seating and there is also a neat waiting room, provisioned with tea, coffee and wifi. There is also an extensive up-to-date used stock price list available.
We met salesmen Barry Sheridan here and were impressed with his approach to customer service and knowledge of his products. We expressed interest in a modern estate to replace an ageing one and he gave us good advice on two similar models, the Skoda Octavia Combi and the Leon ST.
As might be expected in two cars coming from the same stable, the differences between them are in the detail.
Barry was able to bring us through those differences and had two models on hand for us to test drive. He handed us the keys to the Combi and invited us to head off on our own.
Garage Watch is used to being accompanied on test drives by the salesman keen to highlight the given vehicle's virtues in case we miss any of them. Barry, however, wanted us to simply experience the drive for ourselves, to form our own impressions.
The reality is that both Skoda and SEAT have long left behind any old associations of a "cheap and cheerful" heritage.
Based on VW group underpinnings and with the same solid 1.6D engine available in 90bhp and 105bhp versions, these are comfortable, substantial cars.
You would need to pay significantly more than the asking price for these before you would get any appreciable improvement in drivability or finish quality.
The two marques come with slightly different incentives. With the Combi we were offered three years free road tax, worth €200 a year, while with the SEAT there is a three-year service package costing around €5 a month. At €25,750 the SEAT costs around €1,250 less than its 105bhp Skoda counterpart.
When Barry brought us through the numbers, using the PCP approach, charged at 1.42pc by VW's own bank, we were pleasantly surprised to discover just how sustainable it has become to trade up into a replacement vehicle every three years. That, of course, is precisely what the PCP approach is all about - driving customer loyalty and selling new cars. But we were still impressed by a package that would keep us on the road in a comfortable and decent sized wagon from about €340 a month with an initial deposit of €6,000.
We were also impressed to receive a phone call from Barry two weeks later.
He was keeping in touch and following up on the initial contact.
There was nothing pushy about the call, but he showed he was interested in doing business. He made that call at around 5.45 pm on a Friday.
If Garage Watch was looking to hire a salesperson that's exactly the kind of commitment we'd be delighted to have on the team.
It is also worth mentioning that shortly after Barry left the showroom to bring round the test car another member of staff walked in. He immediately came over to see if he could help.
We were less impressed, however, by the location of the premises on the busy Dublin Road, with a constant stream of traffic making it difficult to get into, or out of, the forecourt. There's little Bradys can do about that, of course, but we would be driven scatty by it if we worked there.
Customer parking: ...................8
Customer facilities: .................8
Customer service: ....................9
Models on display: ....................7
Deals offered: ............................8
We liked: The “no fuss” attitude to a test drive.
We disliked: The difficulty of pulling out across a very busy main road.
Overall impression: This is an award winning garage group that has recently embraced two new marques and is determined to show how a dealership should be run.