Archive | May, 2014

AUTODATA SOLD TO INVESTMENT FIRMS

AUTODATA SOLD TO INVESTMENT FIRMS

Autodata_5v1Automotive technical information provider, Autodata has been acquired by investment firms Bowmark Capital and Five Arrows for an undisclosed sum.

Bowmark Capital is a name with experience in the information and data industry, while Five Arrows is the principal investing arm of the Rothschild Group.

Established more than 40 years ago, Autodata is known for providing information covering more than 80 vehicle manufacturers and 17,000 models.

Autodata Chief Executive, Rod Williams, said: “A major factor in the selection of Bowmark and Five Arrows was their agreement and desire to maintain Autodata’s complete independence going forwards. This, coupled with their ability to make available significant additional funding to support our continued growth and expansion, made for the most compelling business case.”

News of the change in ownership comes as the company rolls out its new web application that differs from the firm’s existing offerings by providing a different platform and the option of pay-as-you-go access.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, NewsComments (0)

TRAINEESHIPS SET TO DELIVER MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR AFTERMARKET EMPLOYERS

TRAINEESHIPS SET TO DELIVER MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR AFTERMARKET EMPLOYERS

apprenticeRunning a traineeship is set to become easier for the aftermarket as government looks to give employers more flexibility over the programme, in its latest proposal.

Government aims to build on the strong start it has made for its trainee scheme, which is designed to help young people prepare and ready themselves for an apprenticeship.

The biggest change to the traineeship programme is the increased levels of flexibility for learning providers and employers to help develop quality courses.

One of the amendments is the ability for providers of the courses to choose the duration of the young peoples’ training, as long as the placements last for between 100 and 240 hours. Previously, employers and education providers were tasked to create a traineeship that ranged from six weeks to five months.

Another consequence of the new guidance is that the Department for Work and Pensions has removed the 16 hour-a-week rule for those claiming Job Seekers Allowance, and the proviso that all traineeships have eight weeks of consecutive work experience.

These ultimately are aimed at giving greater flexibility to employer that, with their education partner, is able to develop a programme where the work experience can run alongside other planned training elements.

The changes proposed in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills guidance paper, will come into force on August 1, with the funding now available for youngsters up to the age of 24, compared to 23 in 2013.

MP Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, said, “Traineeships have had a successful first year and thousands of young people have benefited from the chance to get the skills and work experience they need for an apprenticeship or other job.

“But there is more to do. We need more employers to offer traineeship places; I want more young people to have the opportunity to embark on a traineeship and take the first step in working towards a successful career.”

Michael Riley, Director of Prestige Training in Manchester says that while the focus on traineeships is good news for the industry, they need to approached by employers and training providers with care.

“Traineeships are absolutely fine as long as they are run correctly and don’t displace apprenticeships,” he adds. “The idea is to get some education in there and get them some work experience in the motoring industry, and hopefully it will give them the skills to get employed or onto an apprenticeship.”

Hancock added that the guidance is all based on feedback given from those businesses involved in traineeships over the last year, which he believes will help improve the current traineeship programme significantly for all parties while maintaining a strong focus on quality.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, News, Retailer NewsComments (0)

AP’s interactive trade show hits the right notes in Harrogate

AP’s interactive trade show hits the right notes in Harrogate

1400664372156-AutoInsider-Live-ahead-of-the-doors-being-opened-in-Harrogate-(1024x685)Last Thursday saw Andrew Page successfully hold its first AutoInsider Live interactive trade show and hailed it as the start of many, with further dates set to be announced.

The show held at the Yorkshire Exhibition Centre in Harrogate, the home of one the first AP branches, was an opportunity for technicians, apprentices and students to experience live technical demonstrations, displays and seminars, as a number of well-known suppliers also attended the show.

On the day, more than 450 people visited AutoInsider Live, with 43 aftermarket suppliers of parts, tools, training and equipment in attendance, including Bosch, Mintex, BM Catalysts, Corteco, TRW, NGK and Bosal.

Roy Toral, Customer Development Manager for Mintex, a long-standing partner of Andrew Page, said: “We were really pleased with the quality of the attendees, who were knowledgeable and engaged with the show. There was a great buzz around the event, and we were able to arrange visits to local colleges to give the students best practice demos on the back of the right people attending.”

“For us, attending was about getting the brand out there to raise awareness and meet the customers directly,” added Tony Gilson, Area Sales Manager for Bradbury Equipment. “We are very happy that we were able to do that, and the fact that we managed to do a substantial amount of business on the day was a fantastic bonus.”

The show was seen as a huge success by all involved and as a result the next date for the second interactive trade show will be October 16, although the venue and location is still to be announced.

Pick up next month’s edition of CAT, out June 13, where there will be a full review of the show.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, NewsComments (0)

Unipart’s garage network to benefit from new online tool

Unipart’s garage network to benefit from new online tool

Unipart-Oldfields-Garage-exteriorMotorists could be set for a more efficient servicing offering, with Unipart Automotive’s new Quote Finder Tool.

It says it is in the perfect position to support both its 700 strong independent garage Car Care Centre network and motorists, as it can supply information on its nearest garage and a price estimation for their initial request.

Once a convenient garage is selected, Unipart contacts the customer within 24 hours to provide them with a quote and to arrange for the car to be serviced.

Ginny Power, Customer Programmes Manager for Unipart Automotive, said: “Unipart is always striving to offer the most reassuring and stress-free service to motorists and we think our Quote Finder is another positive step in the right direction.

“We have spent a number of months developing this concept and we think we’re in the perfect position to offer our most efficient service yet.”

Unipart also aims to give customers peace of mind by offering a 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty on all parts fitted by one of its Car Care Centre.

Oldfields Garage in Leominster in Herefordshire, an Unipart Car Care Centre member, is taking part in the new scheme, which it believes offers many positives for both itself and motorists as well.

Owner Tim Benson said: “The Quote Finder toll can only be seen as good news too, as it is making things easier for motorists, while projecting each garage in a positive light.”

For more information about Unipart’s Quote Finder tool, visit www.uccc.co.uk/quotefinder

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Upsell with care to keep customers happy

155601141-1John Genge explains the finer points of getting customers to spend more without them feeling like they’ve paid over the odds.

When it comes to up-selling extra work and parts, am I in danger of overdoing it and putting off my customer from returning?

Simple Answer: No, as long as you speak to your customers in the right way. As consumers we do not mind being upsold to as long as we don’t feel ripped off. And, if the work really needs doing you are surely doing your customer a favour in spotting it now rather than have the inconvenience and sometimes the danger of leaving it unnoticed until it fails.

Empathy is the key. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. To do this you need information and to be fair, much of this is information that you should already have picked up in your dealings with that customer. You will know the age and mileage of the car, perhaps the date of the next MOT, how long the customer has owned the car and possibly how much longer he or she is likely to continue to. You can also often tell a customer’s general attitude to his car and whether they are inclined to be frugal or not. All of this enables you to get a “feel” for the response that you might get when you advise the customer of additional work.
However, there is always a danger in making assumptions so don’t pre-qualify. Don’t assume that a customer with an old and dented car will resist spending money and vice versa. People have different views and priorities so your job is to try to find out how these apply to their car.

When it comes to additional work always explain and never apologise. There is nothing worse than hearing a patronising statement such as “I’m afraid this will cost you” or “I have some bad news for you”. It’s not bad news, especially if you are able to give the customer a swift and complete repair at a good price so, always state the positives. “We have identified a couple of issues with your car but the good news is that we can solve them for you today” would be a much better way to present the situation to your customer. Then, explain the work that needs to be done, give just a little detail to build value and then present a price and ask for the business. As an example, air conditioning re-gas is a common one. So, explain that the system has become inefficient, that this might affect fuel economy and if not fixed could lead to more expensive component failure as well as cabin discomfort and driver fatigue. Detail that with the specialist equipment that you have you can fully restore, condition and test the system and moreover (as an additional up sell) can recommend a de-fumigation and bacteria removal at the same time. Explain the price, what it includes, the warranty that you provide and simply ask if you can proceed.

Give the reasons to buy today. Some customers will prevaricate so you need to be prepared for this and explain why it is best done now. Cost, convenience, performance, in most cases there is little point in delaying a repair unless it is for tyres or brake linings where there might be a counter argument if a couple of months wear remains. In such situations, make a firm future booking and write a specific date on a compliments slip and give it to your customer. Put the date in your diary and call them a week before to reconfirm. You will be more likely to get the work than just leaving it as “call us in a month or two and we’ll get it done for you”.
If they sound unsure of the up sell, reassure them with statements like “Most of our customers have this done, we do this type of repair all the time, this is a common occurrence” (avoid the word “problem”). We all like to feel that we are in the hands of experts.

Build trust and treat with respect. If you give a price, stick to it or if possible, finalise the bill a few pounds lower. Explain to the customer the work carried out and emphasise why it was best to do so now. Leave them with a feeling that they made the right choice.

Finally, always give them a reason to return. This might be a free check, adjustment or if nothing else, give them a discount voucher such as £20 off their MOT or next service, a free aircon pressure test, free alignment check, the list goes on, but show them that you value their custom, are happy to reward them for their loyalty and above all give them a reason to come back to you.

Do these things and up-sell should never be a problem.

Posted in CAT Know-HowComments (0)

CAT Factor Lives: John Woolfe Racing

CAT Factor Lives: John Woolfe Racing

JWR-Open-Day-1979David Riswick says trends, fads and skateboards have shaped John Woolfe Racing’s history.

John Woolfe Racing has been around for almost 50 years, and the name harks back to a racing great who tragically lost his life at the beginning of the 1969 Le Mans race.

Owner David Riswick decided all those years ago that he would continue to grow the business he originally developed with Woolfe to import American car and race parts into the UK.

Some will already know that Riswick played a fundamental part in creating the UK drag scene of today, and there is not enough space in this article to tell his many great stories.

But he says that it seemed natural for him to immerse himself into drag racing as he grew up on the West Coast of America.

However, the success of John Woolfe Racing wasn’t just down to drag racing bursting onto the UK scene. In fact Riswick had spotted how it fused with other areas of an American lifestyle and sought to bring that here.

“I was 25 when I kicked this off in 1968 and I am now 70,” said Riswick. “I have had one big party during all of those years, and the relationships I have developed with people have been phenomenal. I came out of the West Coast, and I had all of the grounding of what was going to be big in the UK years later. I didn’t realise it at first as I was too young, very enthusiastic, wide eyed and hadn’t got a clue.”

John-Woolfe-Le-Mans-1969

John Woolfe ahead of the start of Le Mans 1969

John Woolfe Racing was a leader in innovation and new trends and created new markets for people to get excited about.

He said: “We were really going onto a rock’n’roll situation that had nothing to do with American cars but the lifestyle. This is what has evolved in the business, just like skateboards, until our insurance broker started talking about the problem of liability. He said ‘Stop selling them, we can’t deal with all the broken legs’. It was those kind of things that made life here very exciting.”

CB Radios became an opportunity Riswick could not pass up, as the nation went crazy for them after Burt Reynolds used one in the film Convoy.

Riswick added: “We were bringing in aerials and all kinds of equipment to augment CB radios. However, we initially didn’t bring the radios in because it was illegal to use them in this country.

“I then found a loophole in the law that actually allowed us to legitimately import them, pay VAT on them and put them on the shelves. I couldn’t use them, but I could sell them. That is how it all started off and we ended up bringing stacks of those things in.”

While trends played their part in keeping the business ahead of the curve, he is quick to point out that John Woolfe’s name played a big part in making this venture a success, because of his iconic status.

He adds a similar situation has occurred with the death of Paul Walker, one of the stars from the Fast and Furious movie series.

“There is such an enthusiasm for the films,” he said. “It’s a huge business and it has grown on the unfortunate death of this chap into a cult worship programme. I could see that happening with what we were doing back in the 60s and 70s. It was history repeating itself again.

“I was thinking this was a single generation business, but we have survived the test of time, and John would have been very proud of us.”

Even to this day John Woolfe Racing has stayed true to its roots and has resisted temptation to switch its focus. Riswick added over time the business has evolved to selling service parts to keep American vehicles on the road.

“The technology doesn’t really change on American cars. The Corvette engine of today is basically the same as what they were running in the 1950s with a push rod V8, but more refined, that is the American way of doing things.

“It’s an amazing evolution, people who started buying parts for their cars in the 1960s are now running garages for American cars, and they have been for 40 plus years.”

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, News, Out and About with CATComments (0)

DMFX becomes the 100th to undergo Groupauto rebrand

DMFX becomes the 100th to undergo Groupauto rebrand

DMFXDarlington-based motor factor, DMFX Ltd, has become the hundredth business to undergo a full Groupauto re-brand.

DMFX, who have been members of the buying group for eight years, wanted the rebranding transformation to be carried out, tot stands out on the street it resides, while also capitalising on extra signage and window graphics in and around the business.

It also wanted to continue the refresh inside too, and invested in graphics for the door and sales counter.

Chris Chaplin, Commercial Marketing Manager for GROUPAUTO, said: “DMFX’s re-brand project was supported by Groupauto as part of our branding for your business service that is offered to all the cost up to a maximum of £3,000 for the building signage element and make available another £1,000 subject to the members positive marketing support fund balance. We can also contribute to vehicle livery re-branding too.”

DMFX’s Steve Goodfellow, added: “Overall we are pleased with how the building now looks, the time it took to organise the signage and the cost involved to do it.”

Groupauto instigated this scheme, with branding partner Adbell, to offer its members the benefit of a refresh.

The exercise is not just skin deep, as Groupauto will transform the front of the business, while also employing some of its brand values and identity, which brings its own sets of benefits, while allowing the factor to remain its operational independence.

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Inside Line: Manbat

Introduced in 2012, the second-generation Hyundai i30 Blue Drive variants incorporate the company’s Start-Stop system.

As these vehicles begin to drop out of the franchised dealer network and enter the independent sector, workshops, and the technicians undertaking service and repair work on these variants, need to bear in mind that they are not fitted with traditional lead-acid starter batteries. Instead these models use an AGM battery such as a Varta Start Stop Plus and will therefore require specialist knowledge and equipment to ensure the correct removal and installation process is followed.

In addition, as the battery in the system is integrated with the vehicle’s battery management system and its ECU, thorough diagnosis is required to discover whether the battery needs to be replaced or if there is an underlying cause that might have led to its premature failure.

Having the ability to cancel and reset the fault codes that may be required for associated components like the alternator and starter motor, as well as the Start-Stop system, means that workshops would be wise to invest in the necessary tooling and training to allow them to tackle these issues.

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Inside Line: First Line

It is not uncommon for the i30 to suffer from clunking or knocking noises from the front suspension, which is generally the result of wear in the top strut mount or bearing, the anti-roll bar bushes or the front stabiliser links. Naturally the First Line Group has replacements for these components in the First Line brand:

  • Top Strut Bearing (FSM5020) or Top Strut Bearing + Mounting (FSM5404)
  • Anti-Roll Bar Bush (FSK7115K)
  • Front Stabiliser Link (FDL7091)

Another potential problem during cold weather is the shock absorber rubbers and dust boots, which sometimes fail and crumble.

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Inside Line: Meyle

Sven Nielsen, Technical Director from MEYLE, says the following difficulties may arise with the Hyundai i30:

Worn out brake discs

Problem:

Worn out brake discs affect the braking behavior of the vehicle. Rust may play a major role in this case.

MEYLE Solution:

The MEYLE solution is a brake disc covered with a specially developed multi-layer zinc coating. The MEYLE PD coating simply provides better anti-corrosion protection.

• Compared to the conventional brake disc, which showed intense rusting over the entire surface area after 240 hours, the MEYLE PD brake disc displayed only a small amount of white rusting and isolated patches of rust on the surface and on the bores of the inner surface. The coated original brake disc also showed severe rusting close to the bores, increased rusting at the edges and also white rusting.
• The highlight: unlike uncoated discs which must have the grease removed before fitting, MEYLE PD brake discs save the workshops time, as they are ready to be assembled.
• Cross-grinding guarantees the bedding-in process.

Damaged shock absorbers

Problem:

Many car drivers lack awareness of the vital role shock absorbers play for overall car safety. The parts wear away gradually, many defects are not visible at first glance, but their impact on the overall car system is dramatic. Properly functioning shock absorbers reduce braking distances, ensure excellent roadholding when cornering and trouble-free operation of state-of-the-art driver assistance systems such as ABS, ESP or TCS.

MEYLE-Solution:

With high-quality shock absorbers from MEYLE for the Hyundai i30 independent workshops are well equipped for the repair of these safety-critical components. Even when exposed to highest stress, MEYLE shock absorbers ensure an enhanced driving experience when braking, cornering or riding along bumpy roads. They excel because of the excellent piston rod sealing and their vehicle-specific damping characteristics. Shock absorbers from MEYLE cover a wide range of vehicle applications and carry a distinctive marking signalling: genuine MEYLE quality.
MEYLE also offers rubber buffer (bump stops) and dust cap kits optimally geared to each shock absorber, complemented by a range of strut mounts. This allows workshops to replace wear and tear parts of the suspension and damping systems, relying exclusively on high-grade MEYLE products.

Used cabin air filters

Problem:

MEYLE prescribes a replacement interval every 15.000 km, or at least once a year. Best would either be spring, before the pollen season starts, or autumn.

MEYLE-Solution:

Cabin air filters from MEYLE fit their housing perfectly, so that no air can get in to the interior of the car unfiltered. Furthermore the filter material of both pollen filters and active carbon filters from MEYLE have a sufficient dust collecting capacity, whereas active carbon filters have sufficient active carbon on the filter material to filter polluted gasses and bad smells as well, in addition to the properties of pollen filters.

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