Chris Allen Garages: family-run Lancashire car dealership talks customer service and 45 years in business

After your home, it’s likely that the next biggest purchase you’ll make in life is a car, which points to the process of buying a vehicle as being a pretty important one. And that’s just the point that Chris Arkley is making - when it comes to such a big decision, why settle for second best?

“To be able to help people make that decision is nice,” says Chris, who has been Chris Allen Garages’ marketing manager for the past five years. “Guiding people by learning more about them is what we do as a business and we become a valuable point of contact for our customers. They can come back or call at any time, which offers real peace of mind.”

Founded in 1977, Chris Allen Garages Ltd started life in Warton as a single garage run by its eponymous owner himself. But, since then, things have changed somewhat: the company is now one of the Fylde Coast’s most beloved family-run dealerships, operating two state-of-the-art sites in Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood.

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“The company is still family-run and very close-knit,” says 26-year-old Chris Arkley, who is from Accrington. “You just don’t have that usual dread of going to work and ‘I can’t be bothered this morning’ because everyone looks out for one another. It’s very different from a lot of other places I’ve worked.

45th anniversary celebrations at Chris Allen Garages in Poulton

“It’s just very relaxed and friendly, which I think comes across to the customers as well,” adds Chris. “They appreciate our roots in the local area and we’ve got loads of customers who have been really loyal over the years because they know the Allens and the staff here. They feel comfortable knowing they can come in for a coffee and a chat.

“It’s not the kind of experience you have at some multinational companies where you come in, they take your keys, and that’s it, off you go. We’re a lot more personal - that’s our USP and that’s what people come back for.”

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With over 30 members of staff, Chris Allen Garages is primarily a multi-franchise holder for Ford and Mazda, selling premier new and used vehicles. A real local business, however, its expert team of dedicated technicians and friendly support staff has deep roots in the North West - roots which the company recently celebrated on their 45th anniversary.

“It’s very satisfying work,” says Chris. “You form a lot of close relationships with customers because the interactions with people are far more than just transactional, which makes it a lot more rewarding. There’s a lot to be said for that and this year has been one of our biggest years so far - we really feel like we’ve bounced back from Covid, which was a strange time.

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Chris Allen Garages in Poulton

“At first, during lockdown, everything went quiet and there was nothing but, when we were allowed to reopen, we had a bit of a boom and a surge in sales,” adds Chris, with the company having held a surprise party for founder Chris Allen for the 45th anniversary. “It’s settled since then, but it’s still going strong and it’s full-steam ahead, which is really nice.

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“Now it’s about looking ahead to the 50th anniversary, so there are exciting times to come.”

45th anniversary celebrations at Chris Allen Garages in Poulton. Pictured is director Pauline Harding with owner Chris Allen and director Kit Harper-Allen.