Joyce admits that he “sort of fell into the transport industry” as a youngster, as higher education wasn’t a priority, but the appeal of hands-on work and gaining a qualification led him to become a commercial vehicle technician apprentice with Haydock Commercials in Ellesmere Port, near where he grew up. Having qualified there, he was given an opportunity to follow a few ex-colleagues to Mercedes-Benz, namely Liverpool Mercedes-Benz dealer Roadrange (now eStar).
At 21, his career really took off after Mercedes-Benz dealer Rygor took over the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle branch in Heathrow. It needed to put fresh processes in and get it back on track, and Joyce moved there. “In my head, I thought it was a temporary thing, and I would eventually move home” – but he never did.
At the big and busy site, he was promoted to workshop controller, a job which he describes as the most enjoyable of his career. He recalls: “I enjoyed working in the dealership, talking about what we do, the processes, and being the hub of the business. Customers were asking for information; technicians had to be looked after; service managers needed updates, and we needed information from, and had information for, the parts department. The role is the linchpin of everything. I enjoyed the pressure and the thrill of coming up with processes and systems and having dialogue to keep the train moving quickly. And I provided customers with updates, which I prided myself on.”
In 2021, after a stint as service manager at Heathrow (2011 to 2021) Joyce left the site to become service director, overseeing Rygor’s 11 main sites, which extend into the West Country and the Midlands from the south of England. He reflects: “Stepping into leadership, the biggest challenge was leading and inspiring the people, but that is also probably the most rewarding thing. It had the steepest learning curve: emotional intelligence; how to influence people; being supportive; understanding their human needs to provide a better connection.”
In September – two months before his latest promotion following an MBO – he offered some advice to the company’s 2022 apprentice intake at an induction day at Rygor’s Gloucester branch. This year there were 19 new apprentices joining Rygor: HGV and LCV technicians, parts advisors and customer service. Complementing the Mercedes-Benz-run apprenticeship, Rygor’s apprentice pathway includes events such as an end-of-year visit to MB World and a special life skills week. Another important aspect that Joyce mentions is irtec technician licencing in the third year, providing a second independent assurance of their competence, in addition to the end-point assessment (Rygor’s sites are all Workshop Accredited). A new part of Rygor’s apprentice programme is to place apprentices at customers’ sites to help them understand the part they play, what great service means, how customers need the dealer to provide regular updates on repairs, and how things are fixed when something goes wrong. (Applications for the September 2023 intake open in March.)
Reflecting on his experiences, Joyce concludes: “In management, I have learned over time, and from my own mistakes. A mantra I live by is to respect each other regardless of title. You earn respect through hard work and effort. Everyone respects hard work, and everyone can improve in their ability, and move up.”
BOX: VOR ANALYSIS
Another example of the dealer’s (and brand’s) focus on customer service is a new investigation of ways to measure cases of vehicles off road, with vehicle codes, and insight into why the vehicles aren’t working. Joyce says: “Are we waiting for customer authority? Or space in the workshops? First we measure it, and then we see if we can do something. Can we speed up repair? Is there a better form for communication? We want to be transparent with information.”