Life Motoring

Saturday 30 August 2014

Traditional service more than makes up for lack of space

Published 13/02/2013 | 04:00

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grace and harvey Mitsubishi/Fiat main dealer, 12–16 Glasthule Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Location/access: 8.6

Customer Parking: 3

Signage: 7.4

Showrooms: 6.9

Customer facilities: 7

Customer service: 9.4

Models on display: 4.5

Deals Offered: 8.3

We liked: The presentation and cleanliness of the showrooms, despite the small high-street space and the personal service.

We disliked: The lack of parking space and the limited choice of second-hand vehicles on offer.

Overall impression: It is unusual these days to be able to walk into a car showroom on the high street, reminiscent of the days when you'd go into a shop to buy a radio or get a toaster or electric kettle repaired. It's great to find a small outlet that can generate this "old-fashioned" feel yet still convey a professionalism about looking after what are increasingly complex pieces of equipment. An old-fashioned approach to retailing still sells cars on the Glasthule high street.

Traditional service more than makes up for lack of space

On Glasthule Road in Dun Laoghaire you'll find a charming traditional greengrocery. It's small but well stocked and run by someone who has time to talk to you. It's the kind of place you would always prefer to do your shopping if you weren't pressed for time and simply wanted some old-fashioned personal attention.

Pop right next door and you'll get just the same style of traditional service at Grace & Harvey, main dealers for Mitsubishi and Fiat.

In the more prosperous, longer-established residential areas of our major cities, there has always been a place for smaller dealerships.

They are the exact opposite, in so many ways, of the multi-million euro glass palaces that sprang up in edge-of-town retail parks during the Celtic Tiger era.

Grace & Harvey has been in business in Glasthule for the past 27 years. It is a perfect example of this kind of smaller traditional dealer.

True, this does mean the showrooms are what can best be described as small and intimate, but they are immaculately maintained. Owner Joe Harvey is a hands-on managing director and gave us prompt attention.

The one big downside for this dealership is that it has no forecourt, which means pay-and-display parking is required either on the street outside or in the small public car park nearby.

The absence of a forecourt also means that G&H holds minimal second-hand stock. Joe Harvey had just 12 on his books when we called, although he did have what sounded like a well-priced (for its mileage) 2005 Nissan X-Trail being traded in later in the week and was happy to give us a ring the moment it was there to be inspected. Even though we were only offering a 12-year-old vehicle as a trade, he was completely unfazed and we were convinced we could have struck a deal quite quickly.

Despite its restricted space, the dealership still has comprehensive parts and service departments at the back.

It is the sort of place we would feel comfortable visiting if we were an older buyer, perhaps looking for someone trustworthy to guide us on a replacement and to treat us with great respect.

When asked about warranty, Joe Harvey explained that while the guarantee on the Nissan was three months parts and labour, the dealership had always dealt fairly with customers, over and above any statutory obligations.

It was clear to us that this was not some throwaway remark made on the spur of the moment by an over-enthusiastic young salesman. It was the heartfelt expression of how business should be done, which came direct from the owner.

We feel that for most local car buyers the positives would outweigh such negatives as the small size of the showrooms and the restricted parking.

Twenty-seven years in business suggests we are right in this.

Irish Independent

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