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The King of Customer Service

19/03/2018 | General

Excellence in customer service is the Pirtek way. Delivering high quality workmanship on time is how Pirtek franchises have grown, holding on to existing customers and gaining new ones.

In September 2017, Pirtek Cleveland was called upon to supply an existing customer, Ainscough Cranes, with a 20m hose reel with automatic trigger and manual rewind for a bowser unit. These mobile fuel tanks carry between 1000 and 2000 litres of diesel and keep Ainscough’s cranes fuelled up on site.

More than happy with the service Pirtek supplied, Ainscough were keen to order a further 22 sets in October. At time of press, Pirtek Cleveland has supplied 18 units, with five remaining to be delivered in late January.

Owner of Pirtek Cleveland, Harry Wood, says a local competitor had been aggressively bidding for the same contract but his franchise was able to beat them by virtue of having an excellent relationship with Ainscough Cranes, based on their proven workmanship and service.

“We keep good relationships with the customer,” Harry says. “When they call, we’re straight round there doing the business.”

“We got the job because we’re lovely people,” says Harry. That would obviously not have been enough on its own, however.

Pirtek Cleveland’s relationship with Ainscough Cranes looks set to continue, thanks to the foundation of solid workmanship and excellent customer relations.

Family concern

The Wood family have been franchisees at Pirtek Cleveland for five years. Harry and sons Rikki and Jamie worked at the centre for a number of years before Harry and his wife Linda bought the license in 2013.

“I was an MSST for the previous owner for nine years,” says Harry. “He was retiring and we asked him what he thought about us buying the business.

“He was happy to do this and five years down the line, we’re still here.”

Harry has had an interesting career, mostly in engineering related industries. He joined the Royal Navy, straight out of school in the 1980s. He served as a mechanic on HMS Ark Royal and HMS Liverpool for seven years, a highlight of which was heading the flotilla for the 1988 Australian bicentennial in Sydney Harbour.

Working at sea, Harry had a number of duties. “It was a mix of specialist stuff – cleaning down in the engine room, greasing the engines, compressors, hydraulics, steering, diesel engines, boilers, a bit of everything.”

After leaving the Navy, Harry worked for a fibre glass company, initially making parts with a bucket and brush and later injection moulding. During his time at the firm he progressed from the shop floor to being production manager.

“Pirtek used to come in, doing hoses for us. I’d never heard of them but I asked one of the engineers ‘Are there any jobs going at your place?’ He said someone was leaving so I put my CV in and got the job. That was in 2004”

There are now five members of the Wood family working at Pirtek Cleveland – Harry, his wife Linda, sons Rikki and Jamie and now his nephew Jonathan, who has recently started at the centre.

Rikki says, “Working with family has its ups and downs but we know we are all on the same team and we have to provide the best possible service.”

He clearly has self-belief, saying he could imagine being a franchisee one day. “I look after the centre when my dad is away and I know he can rely on me.”

One thing is obvious when visiting the Pirtek Cleveland depot – Harry’s love of Elvis. He says he grew up listening to The King before eventually getting married at Graceland.

Just inside the centre is a shrine dedicated to Elvis, including images, LPs, other memorabilia and at its heart a shirt signed by the self-styled Clothier to the King, Bernard Lansky, who once said “I put Elvis in his first suit, and I put him in his last."

Asked about his favourite track, Harry says, Suspicious Minds. And is there anyone else in music, does anyone come close? “No. The King is the King.”

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