Saturday 16 December 2017

Garage watch: A lesson in how to drive a garage in these tough times

Kevin Connolly Car Sales Ltd
Main Volkswagen and Audi dealer
Rehins, Ballina, Co Mayo

The showroom in Kevin Connolly Car Sales in Ballina was clean, bright and really well cared for, while the customer waiting area had all mod cons.
The showroom in Kevin Connolly Car Sales in Ballina was clean, bright and really well cared for, while the customer waiting area had all mod cons.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

IT WAS a beautiful autumn morning when we called to Kevin Connolly Car Sales in Ballina.

Facing the main N26 road, you have to turn off for the R310 to Knockmore/Pontoon to gain access to this modern complex.

Passing a new ‘work in progress’ Audi showroom which looks to be close to completion we had no problem finding customer parking around the Volkswagen showroom.

A speaker at the side of the Audi structure was beaming soft music when we got out of our car.

Taking a stroll around the well-stocked forecourt we found all cars priced and all carried indepth details on their side windows.

We were met by Martin Cuffe. We told him we were on the lookout for a nice used Golf diesel 07-08.

He told us he might have just the car and invited us to visit, and wait in, the showroom while he went to find it.

As we approached the showroom we discovered from the signage that the garage is open till 7pm, seven days a week.

And there was a big notice on the windows also telling us the Volkswagen Bank was open with 6.75pc APR on used cars.

We were only inside when the receptionist came out from behind her desk and offered us tea or coffee.

We declined her offer as we had only taken a tea break before our visit.

The showroom was clean, bright and really well cared for. Again, soft music played in the background.

The toilets – dual disabled unit in the ladies – were immaculate. The customer waiting area had all mod con facilities including a snack dispenser, TV. It was also nice to see the reading material consisted of a copy of the Irish Independent.

We took a copy of their usedcar list which showed them having 26 2010-registered demo vehicles, 14 VWs and 12 Audis. In total we counted 63 cars and one commercial. They comprised mostly VWs and Audis.


Interestingly, 16 had English registered number plates.

We knew that certain used cars can be quite scarce here and some dealers are filling the void by importing cars.

The seven new cars on display, like those outside, carried prices and details.

Martin came back to us. He had brought a lovely Dublinregistered black 08 Golf to the entrance for us to drive.

Because the left rear tyre required air he drove it to a filling station on our test route and then handed us the keys.

What we found interesting was that Martin suggested we drive out the N26 and then take a back road to, as he said himself, test the vehicle over a mixture of roads.

We thought that was a nice touch and one which showed he had nothing to hide on this car.

Although it had a Dublin plate he told us it had only one previous owner and he was local.

Because it was a GT Sport1.9 TDi, the owner sought a Dublin registration for re-sale value purposes. The Golf had only 61,000km, full service history and was priced at €18,495.

Back at his open-plan desk, the soft-spoken Martin said he would let us have the car for €17,495. He also invited us to speak to the VW Bank for a loan if we so wished.

We stayed on the cash trail and held back from telling Martin that we had a negative experience recently with VW finance.

In fact, that same young person who had failed to get VW finance at the time has since purchased a different make and successfully got similar money from Bank of Ireland.

We asked for time to think and to tell the family member about the Golf.

Martin then gave us his details, including a printout of the car showing four photos and details.

He took our details and walked us to the door.

On our way home Martin phoned to say that if it was of any benefit the car would be at VW HQ on Monday as a member of staff would be attending a course in Dublin. If it suited, our family member could view the car there, he said.

Another nice touch Martin.


Location/access . . . . . . . . . 9.5

Customer parking . . . . . . . 9.5

Signage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5

Showroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5

Customer Facilities . . . . . . 9.5

Customer Service . . . . . . . 9.5

Models on display . . . . . . . 8.5

Deals offered . . . . . . . . . . . 9.0

We liked

Hard working, straight talking, helpful ethic. The overall set-up. Welcoming feeling. Flexible opening hours.

We disliked

Leaving the place.

Overall impression

A dealership that showed professionalism all over. It was obvious that lots of work had gone into preparation. A salesman and business we would have loved to have done business with.

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