First impressions last. Just ask HiQ Darlington which has shot to the top of the network's customer satisfaction index, receiving a 99 per cent recommendation rating in the process.

Sukhpal Purba and his team has topped the ratings in the ongoing HiQ Mirror Hanger campaign, positioning itself as a model of excellence for customer service.

The centre, based in North Road Industrial Estate, has received feedback from 700 motorists, who would almost unanimously recommend it to friends or family for their high levels of service.

It also boasted a 97 per cent satisfaction rating, with 94 per cent of drivers reflecting on a positive experience.

The centre, owned by North Eastern Tyre & Autocare, is now being viewed as a site for other stores to follow and has been praised for its efforts.

North Eastern's retail area manager Norman Blackburn said: "We can't congratulate the team enough for what they are achieving in Darlington.

"There is no magic formula, just a great deal of hard work and an effort to make every customer feel special."

Centre manager Sukhpal Purba said the mirror hanger campaign had added real value to his business and attributed his results to a long standing service of trust.

He said: "Customer feedback is so important to us. It helps us to set the parameters here and understand how we are doing.

"If we didn't know what motorists thought, we'd never know how to get better. I have been here for 34 years now and I am still fascinated to know how a new customer came across us and what we can do to keep him or her coming back."

Norman Blackburn and Sukhpal Purba