Archive | July, 2012



The service gives Facom a new route to market

The service gives Facom a new route to market

Facom has found a new route to market after partnering with tool loan site, Rent2Repair.

The tool supplier has signed up to the service, which allows garages and technicians to hire tools for a specific job at 24 hours notice.

Rent2Repair says that at a time when money is tight for businesses, only loaning out the tools they need for specific jobs for short periods of time makes more sense than investing in specialist equipment.

UK Sales Director for Facom Tony Prueitt commented: “Rent2Repair provides us with a whole new way to interact with our aftermarket users. The service it provides is unique and it’s a great addition to our other distribution channels, offering technicians the chance to try a tool before buying it.”

Facom says the Rent2Repair service will allow the company to get its tools into buyers hands and give them a ‘try before you buy’ experience.

Managing Director for Rent2Repair Julian Thomas said: “We are delighted to have Facom’s products in our catalogue and we are looking forward to a fruitful partnership.

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Aftermarket hits back over BMW thefts

Aftermarket hits back over BMW thefts

Brian Spratt

Brian Spratt

IAAF Chief Executive Brian Spratt has hit back at claims that a recent rise in BMW thefts are linked to the independent automotive aftermarket.

Commenting on a series of articles in the consumer press that allege a link between BMW thefts and access to devices designed to circumvent vehicle security systems, Spratt said: In these articles statements are also made regarding the provisions of the EU Regulation known as ‘Block Exemption’ and a link is made between the devices, the Regulation and the role of independent garages.

“The implication is that owners and employees of independent garages are, in some way, responsible for the increase in the theft of BMW’s that the articles mention.  This is a wholly unwarranted implication and, in fact, is incorrect on several technical points.

“The OBD port on virtually all modern cars cannot be circumvented in the manner described in the articles and BMW UK confirmed this in a meeting held at the UK’s Motor Insurance Industry Research Centre in Thatcham, earlier this year.  That meeting was also attended by representatives from several other motor manufacturers and the police, all of whom rejected any suggestion that this was a consequence of the Block Exemption Regulation or, in some way, implicated independent garages.”

“EU regulations do allow repair and maintenance information to be accessed by garage technicians, but security information is protected and a new system for positively vetting technicians will soon be introduced.

“It is important that the activities of criminals are not unintentionally associated with the perfectly legitimate activities of independent garages.”

Stuart Carr

Stuart Carr

HiQ Fast Fit Manager Stuart Carr has also expressed concern over the articles: “The inference that fast fit technicians are stealing cars through access to their security systems is quite outrageous and wholly inaccurate.

“The article specifically states that there has only been an increase in the theft of BMW’s. Therefore, if Block Exemption was to blame, we would see an overall increase in the stealing of cars.

“The legislation ensures independent garages are provided with the technical information for maintenance and repair and in most cases the security information is not provided. For that reason, it would be almost impossible for thieves to use the provided information to gain access and start up a car.”

What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

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Help CAT give Harry Adams the chance of a lifetime

Harry Adams is a budding engineering genius. He’s exactly the sort of person the motor trade needs – passionate, talented and dedicated to his work.

At just 16 Harry is already well on the road to success, winning several prestigious industry awards (the latest being the Painter Stainer award) and being the lucky recipient of an Arkright engineering scholarship.

But there’s a problem. While Harry has been sent confirmation that he has the scholarship, Arkright has as yet been unable to find him a sponsor. Usually each scholarship winner will be matched with an industry partner – which provides mentoring, work experience, and most importantly shoulders some of the financial burden for the course. This is set at approximately £1000 every year for two years.

Make no mistake, Arkright graduates are among the best in the industry. Nurtured and taught by market-leading experts they are truly the engineering leaders of tomorrow.

Time is running out to find Harry a sponsor, the closing date is the 31st August.

Please, if you can help get in touch with CAT and we’ll point you in the right direction. Email or call 020 8267 5927.

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Halfords has performed badly in customer satisfaction surveys

Halfords Group boss David Wild has resigned following disappointing trading figures.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer “has agreed to leave the Board of Halfords and will cease to be employed with immediate effect”, a statement reads

Halfords Chairman Dennis Millard will head the company during the search for a new CEO and said: “After careful deliberation, it is felt that now is the right time for a change of leadership in the Group to enable it to implement that strategy and maximize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Sales for Halfords have fallen by 5.6 percent in the first quarter. A rise of 9.2 percent in revenue from Autocentres, and 22.6 percent boost for in-store fitment services, were not enough to offset the 7.5 percent fall in overall performance on the retail side.

Over the 13 weeks to June 29, sales for the group were down 10.5 percent, much of the drop blamed on the poor summer weather.

Last month the company issued a profits warning which sent share value down by 15 percent, although they rebounded 11 percent this morning on today’s news.

A recent survey by Which? Magazine also rated Halfords as one of the worst retailers on the high street.

Halfords is predicting full year profits of between £62 and £70 million. Wild is on 12 months notice and will be paid his £645,399 salary and benefits in monthly installments which reduce if he takes employment elsewhere.

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The CAT Council: Shell franchise finder angers aftermarket


Welcome to the CAT Council

We want CAT to remain at the heart of the UK aftermarket, and to help do that we want to hear from YOU.

We’ve gathered a council of some of the most influential people in the aftermarket to discuss the issues facing our industry. We’ve collected opinions from suppliers, factors, garages, retailers and manufacturers to bring you unique discussion and insight.

The question we asked the council this month was:

What do you think of Shell’s advertising claims for its new franchise finder? Are the slurs against independent garages justified?

Below you’ll find responses from some of the members of the CAT Council.

Andrew Jeffrey

Andrew Jeffrey

“Shell appear to be selling their ‘Car Servicing Network’ based on the assumption that it is only the franchised dealer networks who adhere to rigorous manufacturer standards. They also appear to be promoting franchised dealers as the only viable place to take your car for “genuine original equipment parts designed specifically for the make of car”.

“What Shell fail to acknowledge is that a motorist does not have to visit a dealer network to receive this standard of service, nor do they have to use original equipment car parts, and above all, using car parts that match the quality of original equipment parts will not invalidate their car warranty.

“A profile awareness job is also required when it comes to helping motorists to understand more about the actual car parts they can have fitted to their cars.

“Above and beyond the “franchised dealer versus independent garage” debate is the need to lay out the facts to motorists, not to blind them with jargon, and to help them to understand exactly what to expect when taking their car to be serviced or repaired at a quality independent garage.”

Andrew Jeffrey, Unipart Automotive


Richard Shortis

Richard Shortis

“Many years ago Shell was going to show us all the way the aftermarket should be run, when they established Super Drive. They bought up factors, workshops/fitting bays and retail stores, poured loads of money into them which they then proceed to loose. Super Drive is no more.

Then again the people at Shell may not remember that or perhaps they do remember getting their fingers burnt, that is why they are pointing towards the franchised dealer.

Franchise dealers and independent workshops both have their place in the market, my car goes into the dealer to be serviced, but I supply they parts as I do not see why I should pay their prices for oil, filters, plugs and even screen wash when I have it in stock!”

Richard Shortis, Shortis Group


Steve Gandy

Steve Gandy

“I would suggest that 80% of the comments made by Shell are true. The training level of 90% of our garages is awful. We have offered free training only to be knocked back. The mentality of ‘I have been doing this for 30 years’ is prevalent in this industry.

“Dealerships appeal to Mr and Mrs average because they have the element of trust. The ‘Arthur Daley’ rip off merchants still exist in our industry and they are in the majority whilst the good independants are still a minority.

“Educate the consumer about quality so that they know what to ask for when they go to an indepedant, and take the power out of the hands of these people who are dragging the aftermarket down.”

Steve Gandy, RRD Automotive


Tony Bhogal

Tony Bhogal

Regarding Shell, this opens up a wider debate regarding brand and perception of brand with Shell aligning with the manufacturers as the ‘OE brands’

“The aftermarket needs to look beyond the name, as we’ve discussed before Lucas is just a box but in the trade it is still seen as a manufacturing brand, same with ECP and their use of Pagid.

“I suppose it is a way of getting the general public to pay that premium price…”

Tony Bhogal, AutoElectro


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Don’t let Franchises steal your business

It’s time to go on the defensive, says Mike Owen

When times are hard the temptation to take on work that is outside your capabilities and muddle-through can be overwhelming. The simple fact is that customers deserve better.

Ability is close to the top of my list of must-haves for a garage. A simple analysis of job cards and invoices, together with shared anecdotes from technicians, quickly highlight shortfalls.

ability guaranteed

Technicians often tell stories of what went wrong, often in public places for all to hear, but now as never before, ability has to be guaranteed. Why? Because all of the effort over the last decades by you and your forebears, and those who fight on the political scene, as I have in the past, is on the verge of delivering success for independents. But there is still a great danger.

It would be a huge understatement to suggest that in 2013 someone will drop a rock into the pond that is called the motor trade. Years of skulduggery and manipulation behind the scenes will, I feel, result in something more akin to a full sized meteor-strike.

BER effects

The block exemption regulation 1400/2002, or BER as we have referred to it since its inception, will cease. The effects will be limited in the independent sector thanks to replacement service and repair BER, but this does not mean that all is rosy.

I may live to regret this prediction, but I believe that we are going to see a lot of franchised dealers de-frocked. I know that if I were in their shoes I would look to capitalise on my knowledge and investment to become a specialist for the marque that I currently represent.

Those of you who have looked over the parapet will have seen that franchises are already good at warranty jobs and servicing of younger vehicles, but having the skills to be a specialist and repair older vehicles is a different ballgame.

It doesn’t matter that dealers match independents on prices for service, we can trump their ace with the ability to repair and have to keep hold of our strong hand. Ability has to become the weapon of choice.

fixing things

I recently had the pleasure of watching James Dillon present to an audience on the subject of diagnostics. Attendance at one of his seminars should be compulsory for all independent garages.

I have told James that I consider him to be the Tom Peters of the motor industry, Peters being the much revered motivational presenter recognised for making difficult subjects easily understandable. It is the likes of Dillon, Peter Coombes and Frank Massey that give the independent garages the edge, an ability to fix things.

A colleague of mine in Germany tried to slave-start his wife’s Mercedes – the outcome was, a trip to the franchise workshop and a diagnosis that threatened the replacement of an ECU and brought a bill in excess of €1000. Even after being offered a discount as he had an ‘old car’.

His local specialist charged him €480 and a replacement component, not an ECU, that came in at just €18. No discount, just ability.

I took a few moments to cost model the two offerings and believe that the specialist actually had five-times the earning potential of the franchise. It’s why we’re in this industry, isn’t it? Earning a living from fixing cars?

If profit is the corner stone of our endeavour, then ability must be the foundation that underpins it. The problem is that currently we have a dearth of the stuff, something you must admit to if you look at it in all honesty. It’s Pareto’s law in action, 20 percent can actually do it, 80 percent just say they can.

customer experience

Because of this the customer experience is not consistent, and the danger is that we could see our existing and potential customers scuttle back to the franchises that are hunting for more work. If they do, they may never emerge again.

Not all are blessed with the innate understanding of Dillon and his colleagues, and that means training has to be the next best thing. There is a cost, but it’s an investment, so there is a need to generate a return and this is achieved through your labour rate, not your parts.

That means a proper labour rate, too, the sort that attendees at Tasc seminars work out rather than using the American SWAG method – the Scientific Wild-Assed Guess.

customer satisfaction

My time as a mechanic is now in the past, so now my ability is in hiring technicians with the skills, creating a good working- environment and delivering profits to my client companies through customer satisfaction.

Ability is also a counter to the argument for licensing. If we, the industry as a whole, cannot defuse the claims made against us then we will all be forced, and so we should be,
to live under the umbrella of regulation.

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CAT lives: BEN

BEN organises days out for its dependants

BEN organises days out for its dependants

What is BEN? It’s your industry charity. What does BEN do? It offers care, support and welfare to the motor trade. Who is BEN for? You, your family, and your dependants.

No less than 15,000 people are helped by BEN every year, but that figure is quickly dwarfed when Head of Marketing Ray Diggins explains the scope of BEN’s remit. Taking into account not only the 850,000 or so members of the UK motor trade at the moment, but also their dependant family members, BEN is looking at a potential audience of two million people.

That audience comes from all ages too – much of BEN’s work is done with the children of its dependants.

Diggins says some people will only recognize what BEN does at the other end of the scale, through its network of care centres: “The centres look after about 350 people, but that’s only one side of what we do. We also have a very active welfare network; they will offer support and advice on how to get help if people need it. They can also approach other organisations on behalf of beneficiaries.”

Getting the right message out to such a large network was always going to be tough, but fortunately awareness of BEN is growing. “We’re getting a lot more referrals through the website,” says Diggins “year on year our web traffic is up by 40 percent, and our page views have gone up by 48 percent.”

15,000 people are helped by BEN every year

15,000 people are helped by BEN every year

Diggins says one of the biggest problems he faces in delivering BEN’s message is misconception: “A lot of people don’t know that the help extends to not only those who work in the industry, but have worked in the industry. We talk about our work in terms of a family. You can leave a family physically, but you never stop being a part of it. The motor trade is just a big family.

“BEN’s offering is very wide and its reach is very long. We need to get rid of those misconceptions that stop people from contacting us. We need to change the idea that if someone has left the industry, they’re no longer entitled to help. We also need to dispel the myth that if someone works for a company that doesn’t in itself support BEN that they don’t qualify for help. They do.”

Of course, helping an entire trade is going to cost money, £12 million every year in fact. Consequently BEN is hugely reliant upon, and extremely grateful for, the support it receives from the industry and those who work in it. Fortunately, there’s a lot of ways to get involved. Whether it’s taking part in any of the numerous events the charity hosts throughout the year, or enrolling in a payroll or performance-related giving scheme.

“Our volunteers come from all sorts of areas, from individuals who want to help on an ad-hoc basis to a very organised volunteering project,” says Diggins.

BEN HQ is set in luxurious surroundings

BEN HQ is set in luxurious surroundings

“There’s a great deal of warmth and affection for BEN in the UK. Everyone who knows about us, loves us; we’re a good thing. The problem is that not everyone who can receive our help knows about us.”

From those that do receive BEN’s help, however, the thanks is there to see. Many of the walls in BEN’s offices are adorned with thank you notes and letters from people all over the country.

Diggins hands over one such letter. It says saying that in some cases all BEN needs to do to help is be at the end of a telephone to offer support and advice. The last line of the letter simply reads: “Thanks for being here.”

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Parts Alliance comment on Camberley sale

Parts Alliance comment on Camberley sale

Steve Fulford, Chairman The Parts Alliance

Steve Fulford, Chairman The Parts Alliance

Parts Alliance Chairman Steve Fulford has expressed his ‘disappointment’ over the sale of Camberley Auto Factors to Andrew Page.

Fulford founded PA in 1999, when he was also Managing Director of Allparts Automotive, and said in a statement: “Although Camberley Auto Factors has had a change of ownership, it is business as usual for The Parts Alliance. As the leading automotive business group in the UK and Ireland, we are dedicated to delivering quality products and services to all our customers.

“The change was unexpected and disappointing, but the members are unified and our plans remain firmly on track for the future.

“Our excellent partnerships with customers and suppliers are of the utmost importance and continue to be our primary focus.”

It’s unlikely that Camberley can continue as a member, although read a particular way the statement from Fulford suggests that this is the case.

Fulford and Camberley boss Dave Russell are both unavailable for comment for the meantime, but a spokesman said ‘negotiations are ongoing’.

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They’re coming, are they? Oh God…

That’s quite a reaction to the news that Andrew Page has bought Camberley Auto Factors.

The key member of the Parts Alliance was ‘snapped up’ today in a move which instantly gives Andrew Page a significant presence in the south.

One factor said: “They’re coming, are they? Oh God, it’s going to be a hell of a fight! It’s a call to action I suppose, we’d better get ready.”

I put ‘snapped up’ in inverted commas since deals like this aren’t done on a whim, of course. It’s tempting to think that the groundwork might have taken almost a year since Duncan Wilkes has also today been announced as Andrew Page’s new non-executive Chairman. Wilkes’ departure as the boss of the Halfords Nationwide Autocentre chain was signalled last August.

Perhaps I’m putting two and two together to make five on that one, but I’m just avoiding doing the sums on how Steve Fulford at the Parts Alliance must be feeling to see his biggest member bought.

What does it mean for the Parts Alliance? How was CAF bought from under its nose?

We’re still yet to hear from PA but it’s safe to say Page has made what you might call a rather audacious move.

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Andrew Page has jumped in size

Andrew Page has jumped in size

Andrew Page has bought key Parts Alliance member Camberley Auto Factors (CAF) for an undisclosed sum.

With the most branches in the Parts Alliance, CAF adds 29 locations to Andrew Page which now has a network of more than 90 sites.

The CAF acquisition sees Andrew Page leapfrog GSF in size and gives the company an immediate, strong presence in the south of England and along the M4 corridor towards Wales and the West Country. Parts Alliance members in these areas include Mill Autoquip and GMF.

The purchase is a huge step in Andrew Page’s ambition to create a national network. Andrew Page Limited, Managing Director Mark Roberts said. “The management team here is delighted to announce the acquisition of Camberley Auto Factors.

“The senior management team and our loyal staff look forward to working with the Camberley team to create the UK’s most successful independent motor factor. We now anticipate building on this success and continuing our national growth strategy with our new Chairman, Duncan Wilkes, together with the team at Phoenix working alongside us”.

There is no immediate rebranding of CAF sites. Camberley Auto Factors Managing Director Dave Russell said. “It will be very much business as usual over the coming months as we continue to trade as Camberley Auto Factors. However, we anticipate that the strengths of the two companies combined will increasingly enable us to offer an even better service and enhanced and extended range of products and services”.

Ex-Halfords Nationwide Autocentres boss Duncan Wilkes is also announced as the new Chairman of Andrew Page. John Rastrick of Phoenix commented. “We are delighted to support Andrew Page with the acquisition of Camberley Auto Factors. We see substantial further growth potential for the business and are committed to supporting the company to achieve this. We are also very pleased with the appointment of Duncan Wilkes who joins the board at an exciting time in its development”.

Founded in 1946, Andrew Page entered into a partnership with Phoenix Equity Partners in March 2010.

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