Tag Archive | "Motor factors"

MAINTAINING CUSTOMER RETENTION AT ALL TIMES

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MAINTAINING CUSTOMER RETENTION AT ALL TIMES


Vince Blackmore shows CAT around LVW’s Rollings branch in Wrexham

Vince (L) and Harold

Vince (L) and Harold

While in Wales, we visited Wrexham Rollings, a long- established distributor and part of the LVW Group.

Since its acquisition in 2008 and subsequent relocation across town, the branch has gone from strength-to-strength, according to Regional Manager Vince Blackmore, who’s been a long-serving employee and witnessed the firm’s growth first hand during his 32 years of service. “I joined Rollings in 1985 when we were situated in the middle of Wrexham at the old Brooke Street building”, he said. “The LVW Group saw the sales results in the business and took advantage of this opportunity by acquiring the store from previous owner David Evans nine years ago”.

Now based from a 10,000 sq ft facility, Blackmore is responsible for overseeing the performance of the Wrexham store as well as LVW’s Flint and Oswestry sites. However, those are just to name a few in
the distributor’s portfolio as Blackmore explains. “In 2011, LVW bought the Rollings branch in Oswestry and acquired parts distributor Moparts in Liverpool”, adding that the firm also possesses its LVW Automotive outlets in Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port, bringing the group’s network to six sites.

Wrexham Rollings houses 30 staff and 15 vans, a few of which on our visit were lined up symmetrically while they loaded for a run. “Our vans deliver locally within a three to four mile radius and we have timed runs for the mountainous regions reaching as far as 30 miles”, replied Blackmore, who also informed us that plans to extend its fleet is currently a ‘work in progress’.

An army of exhaust silencers

WAREHOUSE TOUR
After a bit of background history, Blackmore took us around the warehouse to go through the day-to-day running of the operation. From the ground floor up to the mezzanine, we were impressed with how organised each aisle was as product groups were stacked tidily along the shelves with no signs of overstock. “Coil springs, steering and suspension and brake pads are just a few of our fastest selling lines” explained Blackmore. “We are also a member of the IFA buying group which gives us buying  power to order stock at affordable rates than if we just went directly to the supplier as a non-member”. Even ‘ugly’ exhaust silencers looked good glimmering as they hung up side-by-side in the large warehouse awaiting an order.

CUSTOMER RAPPORT
As we continued our tour, Blackmore explained that the store has accumulated over 450 customer accounts and counting with 80 to 90 percent of the base comprising garages and workshops. However, like nearby Wrexham Motoring Supplies, Rollings has kept both existing and new customers at the core of the operation. “Our customers are not just an account number, they are personal and have been with us for 30+ years because staff have built up a great relationship with them” Blackmore replied.

“For example, if there’s something wrong on a customer’s 2009 Insignia, the customer will ring and we will get the parts right and delivered to them quickly first time around. It’s all about customer service and building that relationship”, adding that the branch uses Autocat to track down the necessary components for the vehicle model in question. Surprisingly, the store has even built up a strong rapport with its next-door neighbour ‘Volkswagen Wrexham’ (which despite the name has no connection with LVW). “There is no friction at all”, said Blackmore. “The guys from Volkswagen just come in and collect their parts. There is no competition between us”.

Counter stocks many aftermarket brands

TECHNICAL TRAINING
Vince told CAT that the branch holds a range of technical evenings, presentations and training courses on site for garage customers to keep them abreast of the latest developments. Past courses have covered an array of topics including hybrid systems; oil along with supplier training and ongoing technical talks from companies such as Gates. Blackmore elaborated: “We have constant supplier courses such as common oil training, clutches and we hold technical and presentation evenings for customers in our warehouse space”. We were intrigued to find out what Blackmore had pencilled in for the coming  months. He said: “We recently had a Gates Fan Belt and Tensioner Training course, but the next one will be the timing belt side of it which will take place in the Spring time”.

Before wrapping up proceedings, Blackmore discussed the firm’s upcoming plans, which involves increasing customer retention and organising its ongoing training programmes for the rest of 2017.

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AAG ACQUIRE MULTIPLE FACTORS WITH TURNOVER OF EU 44.1M

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AAG ACQUIRE MULTIPLE FACTORS WITH TURNOVER OF EU 44.1M


Trading organisation, Alliance Automotive Group has confirmed that it acquired six UK businesses in the last quarter worth a total turnover of EU44.1m, with another two more recent purchases yet to be confirmed.

The 19-branch Mill Auto was the best-known acquisition by the trading group, with the annual turnover amount confirmed as EU 36.7m. The next highest value was Stockport-based CV Parts with turnover of EU 2.1m.

Other light vehicle distributor acquisitions include Keighley-based KG Motaquip, Hartlepool-based Advanced Motor Components and Newcastle upon Tyne based Northumbrian Motor Factors, each of which are single-branch factors.

Cargo Motor Factors, based in Newcastle under Lyme in Staffordshire was also bought.

Within the past week, there have been reports that a multi-branch factor in the North of England and a single branch firm in the South East have also been acquired.

Ed’s note: An earlier version of this story confused sale price and turnover. Apologies for any confusion it may have caused. 

 

 

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NEW PHONES BUZZING IN WORTHING


Steve Reeves shows us around a South Coast factor that has received an upgrade

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-29-01-2

Today is a busy day at CPA Worthing, though to be fair it is always busy at the original branch of the twelve-strong chain.

However, the extra rucus today is caused by the installation of a new IP-based phone system. As we arrive, Nick Fulford from the Parts Alliance’s IT team is busy testing connections and setting up screens, which when up and running, will display info on ring time, missed calls etcetera.

CPA Worthing was originally setup by Nick Best and Keith Anderson. A number of other names familiar to the aftermarket also joined the company in due course, including Operations Manager John Austin who remains with the company to this day. However, it is General Manager Steve Reeves who we are meeting today.

SYSTEM
“We’ve got a great system going in, backed up with mobiles so we are not going to miss any calls” said Reeves, indicating to Fulford who has his hands full testing several new handsets. “We’ve accepted it with open arms” he said, adding that as one of the larger branches in the Parts Alliance network.

The original name of the business is Car Parts and Accessories, so it should perhaps come as no surprise that the customer area resembles a traditional accessory shop, albeit one inside an industrial unit. Around half of the room is taken up with an L-shaped CPA team on new phones counter that on our visit had five staff members variously serving walk-in customers and picking up the soon-to-be- replaced phones.

CPA team on new phones

CPA team on new phones

“The way and the speed that you pick up the phone is important” stresses Reeves. Telephone policy is something that is strictly enforced at CPA as it remains the main way that customers form their impression of a business. “The garages want to know that they are dealing with people they can trust – with my guys they can” he adds.

The main stockroom is large – although no-one is quite sure exactly how big. What we do know is that it boasts a large mezzanine for the slower moving items and has a room used for meetings and as an office.

EXHAUSTS
Down in the main stock area, we notice a large amount of floor space was dedicated to exhausts. “Exhausts will become a shrinking market” asserts Reeves. “With the the exhausts you’ll find that some parts don’t move for three, four or even five years. It’s ugly as well. There may be a plan to shrink some of our exhaust stock as there are specialist centres. If Joe Public wants a rear box, we can obtain one of those on the same day from a supplier. Long have gone the days when a third of a building this size would be exhausts. You’re hanging up fresh air and I want the space for other products”.

As with any branch in this buying group’s network, there are all the brands you might expect: Delphi, Denso, NGK and so on. We also noticed some Yuasa batteries stocked alongside the group’s usual range of Banner products as well as Comma Oil held in various grades and quantities. A team of three people picks the stock, with seven vans running in and around the surrounding area. There is also an inter-branch ‘tea van’ to keep stock balanced across CPA. “Getting stock to customers quickly is like a hot pizza because delivering a cold one is not going to be any good” he concludes.

With a focused team and the new business systems to help keep the business on track, we are sure that CPA will be delivering ‘hot pizzas’ for many years to come.

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM


Ahmed Khot invites us down to Heston Auto Parts in Hounslow

heston_auto_factorsThe business started in 1999 with Ahmed Khot running the shop after his father passed away.

Prior to the store’s opening, Khot’s father had been an active figure in the UAE aftermarket. “My father’s originally from India and he went over to Dubai where he set up a massive network of auto parts companies”, explained Khot: “We had 11 branches in the Middle East that we used to export from and with the experience my father accumulated out there, he brought it back to the UK”.

Khot’s father set up six factors in the UK but due to illness, he closed all the partnerships leaving Ahmed in charge of Heston Auto Parts to continue his work.

BUSINESS STRATEGY
Establishing a store in Hounslow which is a member of the CAAR buying group, led to a number of opportunities. Although this is a highly contested patch for all parts of the trade, Khot noticed the number of private hire companies in the area that served Heathrow airport “We looked at specific cars of our local market which are mainly cabs and chauffer companies, so we’ve targeted them and made sure we’ve have kept the necessary day-to-day parts in stock available so that when they come in we’ve got it” he said.

Interestingly, Khot has looked at the dozen or so businesses that exist on a small industrial area behind his store and has worked out ways of doing business with them all, rather than working against them. A partnership with one named A&N Auto Repairs for example has helped Khot find gaps for growth and margin opportunities while supplying spares to the technicians on a daily basis. “We’ve learnt a lot from them so we tend to know what’s going on in the market” he says. Having strong links with the local MOT centres has brought in more orders and kept those tills ringing each week.

DISTRIBUTION
Again, using Khot’s business philosophy of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, he has used the giant GSF Car Parts branch in nearby North Feltham to his advantage. “GSF has really supported us and has been a big help with technical information and boosting our knowledge of the European side”, he said. Equally, he doesn’t consider Euro Car Parts, who are very strong in the local area, to be an enemy. “With ECP, you always need a big brother on your side instead of fighting them, be with them” added Khot.

The firm now holds over 140 customer accounts and sends a lot of parts to Africa. Being part of the CAAR Group has also got its perks, allowing the factor to develop its online market and distribute to its European customers.

PRODUCTS AND STOCK
With the value of stock totalling £225,000, Khot has invested heavily in MAM catalogue software to monitor his wares, especially with the recent £20,000 extension that now houses a range of braking, suspension and spark plug parts. “We have invested quite heavily in MAM and it’s needed because of the size of our store that goes right out the back”. He explained that half the shop is dedicated to service kits and filtration that has proved a popular sell to DIY mechanics.

UPSELLING
As we enter the prime time for flat batteries and MOT services, Khot plans to bring his battery wares and ancillaries to the front of the store in a bid to up-sell to garages during the winter period. “I will be bringing our winter products and batteries to the front of the store, keeping all our summer wares at the bottom”. He added: “We have recently gone into parts for motorcycles and scooters and it’s proving to be quite good”.

The weak pound has been no barrier for the parts supplier. In fact, there are expansion plans afoot. “We want to start developing more product lines and importing products from abroad again” said Khot. “We are trying to look for a place for an MOT station which will have a motor factor at the front and will be two-in-one to take our business one step further”.

We look forward to catching up with Khot and his team again soon to find out how the new MOT and motor factor business has taken off.

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ANDREW PAGE FILES NOTICE OF INTENT TO APPOINT ADMINISTRATORS

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ANDREW PAGE FILES NOTICE OF INTENT TO APPOINT ADMINISTRATORS


BREAKING NEWS: Andrew Page has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators at Manchester High Court.

CAT has confirmed with the court that the notice, filed on September 22, lists PWC as the chosen receivers, but no statement from either parties has yet been made.

 

Updates will follow as soon as they occur.

 

 

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SPARTAN LEAVES PARTS DISTRIBUTION PARTNERSHIP FOR IFA

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SPARTAN LEAVES PARTS DISTRIBUTION PARTNERSHIP FOR IFA


SPARTAN

Newport-based Spartan has announced that it has joined the IFA buying group.

The factor had previously been a member of the Parts Distribution Partnership (PDP) but was one of five members to leave the group in August.

The move must have come as a blow to the PDP as it has lost five out of twenty-one members  in just a few weeks. It had already lost Panks of Norwich, which rejoined GroupAuto. More significantly, founder members Pat Williams, Partservice and Carspares Factors London left the group on the same day.

While no party has commented on reasons for leaving the PDP, Spartan is delighted to be joining the IFA. “It seems to be a good fit for both us and the IFA” said Lee Gratton, a Director at Spartan. “We’re really looking forward to dealing with some new suppliers who they are aligned with”.

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KEEPING IT LOCAL AS AN INDEPENDENT


Jimmy Tawana shows us around ABC Auto Factors in Slough

vital_statsDriving rain had been a feature of our past few days on the road, but fortunately the sun came out when we reached the village of Taplow as we paid a visit to ABC Auto Factors.

Etched between a church and a row of houses, the family- based motor factor has been in the same place for a while. Jimmy Tawana, Manager of ABC Auto Factors, explained: “My father Jagjit Tawana started the business back in 1987 and this year, it will mark 29 years of service for ABC Auto Factors”. He added: “In the beginning, it was just my father operating the shop, but we slowly grew our customer base and eventually started delivering parts in the local area”.

With the business now in the hands of Jimmy and brother Harminder the duo manage five staff, over 150 customer accounts and three delivery vans distributing parts in and around the Burnham, Slough and Maidenhead areas.
When we entered, it was a bit of a tight squeeze due to the limited counter space, but spatial issues aside, the business seems to be doing well with phones ringing off the hook throughout our visit, while retail customers queued up to purchase bits and pieces. Although physically small, appearances can be deceiving as parts are stored in every nook and cranny of the branch. “Customers that come and visit us are actually shocked as to how big the store is”, said Tawana. “The shop used to be a house, a butchers, then more recently a pub with the benefit of a cellar which is now home to car parts rather than beer barrels. Over the years the premises have been extended twice to almost double its original size; we now have a large garage at the rear and every single room on the first floor is stocked from floor to ceiling with parts”.

JURATEK

An efficient use of space is required in a compact store

PRODUCTS
As we wondered through the backroom, we found never- ending aisles of aftermarket brands from Borg & Beck air filters to Banner Batteries and Shaftec brake calipers. Tawana commented: “Naturally basic service parts are a huge area for any factor but recent investments in braking, rotating, steering and suspension as well as brake hydraulics have been instrumental to the growth in these areas. We recently changed our caliper supplier to Shaftec and are now seeing a huge increase in sales; it has proved to be one of our best decisions of late”. We also found two shelves with a variety of Lucas Oil products that has proved a popular sell among trade professionals.

COMPETITION
The continuation of stock cleansing has also generated profit for the business with Tawana’s team monitoring stock pareto and up-selling products. “We try to work a lot on cleansing our stock as often as possible or suppliers allow; with limited space it is imperative that we have the correct items on the shelf at all times. Items without any sales in the previous 6-12 months are constantly analysed. This analysis with the aid of the pareto available from our suppliers and our parts reports enable us to stock what is most relevant to our business and local car parc”, Tawana replied.

Every price point is stocked

Every price point is stocked

The ‘buying power’ from larger factors could be a force to be reckoned with as Tawana explains: “In the surrounding areas there are two ECP branches, GSF, AllParts as well as MPD with a local distribution hub. With ABC being a single branch operation with limited resources such as number of vans; it could be argued that it is difficult to compete, however, being a UAN member definitely has its benefits”.

The factor has been a UAN member for five years, which has enabled them to compete against local independents. Harminder Tawana, Director of ABC Auto Factors, elaborated: “For the small fee we pay, the benefit of joining the UAN involves better invoice prices plus rebates which has helped tremendously in growing the business and generating margins for us” Harminder concluded: “The UAN also supports us with a marketing budget which we have used for seasonal promotions on our product ranges”.

CUSTOMER BASE
Going above and beyond the customers’ expectations is vital for keeping most businesses a-float and ABC Auto Factors have done this by providing an efficient delivery service to workshops while venturing out to new garages to build up its customer base. “My father’s role in the business has now shifted to that of a sales rep. He is responsible for visiting new garages that we haven’t dealt with before in the area”, Tawana continued: “Just recently we have managed to pick some new accounts after persistent visits to them. I am a firm believer that where we may lack in the number of vans or personnel at branch level; the personal service we are able to offer contributes to our overall competitiveness.”

While the firm is keen to build up its customer rolodex, remaining loyal to their existing ones is essential to see customers return to the store in the near future. Tawana added: “We try to get out as much as we can to see our customers, just popping in to say hello and have an informal chat is important to show that we’re still interested in them”, he concluded.

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