Switzerland possesses a relevant position within the luxury car industry, with events like the annual Geneva Motor Car Show being a staple in Swiss calendars. Having become aware of a significant group of readers who possess prestigious cars, Swiss Style is starting a new section in order to address their concerns with issues regarding their vehicles. From advice on maintenance to dealing with services provided by specialized garages, Swiss Style will tackle the issues that our readers may be encountering with their vehicles. In order to help us do so in the most informed manner, Jonathan Hartop, owner of the Aston Riviera Cars Garage where they maintain and sell previously owned Aston Martins in Lausanne, will be one of our main contributors for this new section.
Swiss and English, Hartop went from emptying oil as an apprentice to running a garage to dealing with worldrenowned brands such as Rolls Royce, amassing an impressive 34 years of experience in the car industry under his belt. Having worked for Rolls Royce Motors International for five years, joining their technical team, Hartop then moved into doing further PR work and launching Rolls Royce/Bentley’s then latest models in the early 1990’s. Hartop also leant some of his professional expertise to motor racing events, experiencing the fast paced world of racing competitions: “I’ve always been very passionate about motor racing; I do a little bit now, but it’s been a dream since I was kid. Any opportunity to try and get even a little bit close to motor racing activities, I was always there.”
With the launch of the DB7 in 1993, car manufacturing for Aston Martin grew exponentially, from producing 50 cars in a year to 7,000. The rise in production began a new era for Aston Martin, and they asked Hartop to come in and develop their brand here in Switzerland. Having opened Aston Riviera Garage in 2008, Hartop now specializes in sales and maintenance of luxury cars and going for the extra mile for his clients. Heading a small team of professionals at Aston Riviera, Hartop focuses three elements in order to bring his best foot forward for his clients: transparency, maintaining contact, and attentiveness. “A lot of our clients may be familiar with the history of our brand, but may not be as technically minded,” says Hartop. He continues, “So I think it’s very important for us to take time and to explain to the client exactly what maintenance is involved.”
By understanding the brand and the changes the car industry has gone through in the last 50 years, from mechanical to electronic engines, Hartop explains that the luxurious car industry is a complex business, and that when owning one of these vehicles, one should look for directness and accuracy in a garage team. “We have cars here that have no more than 50,000 miles on them, and yet they are still 40 or 50 years old. Some people would think that they would just need an oil change, but it’s more complex than that, and that’s what we need to be clear about with our clients,” said Hartop. According to him, looking for transparency in the person that handles your car is an important factor that will not only help with the future maintenance, but also establish an invaluable contact with the technician. Equally important to founding a relationship with your technician is recognizing when they do or don’t go for the extra mile. Staying that extra 10 minutes to explain to your client the technicalities involved with their cars, says Hartop, can affect the way your client responds to you, and vice versa: “Our view is to make life easier for our clients. Let them feel comfortable and at home, and don’t overdo it. Clients have to feel served.”
“Once we had a client who was coming back from Paris. He’s on his train, two hours away, and he gives us an impromptu call to say ‘sorry, I’ve had to come back earlier, and I need the car.’ So we quickly got the car out of storage, cleaned it, filled the tank, checked the tire pressures, and he came in, apologized profusely, got in his car and drove off,” says Hartop, recounting one of the times he and his team tried to accommodate to his client’s busy schedule. Despite short notice, when it comes to a service provider for your car, Hartop says to be wary of sloppiness: “I would hate, for example, to get things like hand marks or grease marks on the car. Sloppiness should really be one of those tell tale signs to stay away.”
When acquiring a lavish car, one should expect nothing but the best for its maintenance. As Hartop said, “Look for someone you can familiarize with and who knows what they’re talking about.” In doing so, you could make the distinct difference between your car last three years to lasting for a lifetime.
Article by By Joy Corthesy