THE owners of a vehicle body shop specialising in accident and mechanical repairs are celebrating after they won one of the motor industry’s most prestigious awards.
A&J Lawrence in Cosham, Portsmouth has been named Body Shop of the Year by industry publication Motor Trader in the Motor Trader Awards 2014.
The firm beat four other shortlisted repair firms to walk away with the trophy at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, hosted by BBC Sport presenter John Inverdale.
The judges praised A&J Lawrence for using the recession as an opportunity to streamline its business by overhauling everything from supplier contracts to working hours, and to pass savings on to customers made by a change in emphasis from replacing faulty or damaged parts to repairing them.
Overhauling the firm’s processes – and communicating more regularly with staff with the introduction of weekly team meetings – has resulted in productivity increasing by a third while keeping the head count the same.
Co-founder Jon Lawrence said: ‘To win an award such as this is a testament to the hard work of everyone at A&J Lawrence to ensure we not only survived the recession, but emerged from it as a more efficient business that works within the community and which does the very best work it can for its customers.
‘To be recognised by the most prestigious motor trade award for body shop work is fantastic, and goes to show that investing in your business and, crucially, your staff, reaps its own rewards.
‘Good people are the success factor in any business, and good communication is the key to that.’
Tony and Jon are getting the business ready to hand over to the next generation of Lawrences, Tony’s sons Shane and Jake, who are being mentored by an industry consultant.
Tony said: ‘It has always been our aim to build a business that we can pass down to the next generations, one that is thriving, has a great sense of camaraderie so the best people want to work within it.’