National garage network reports fleet business developments
The new network has introduced the in2-Connect online electronic trading platform for vehicle maintenance transactions and has also become the approved fitters of remanufactured car and van engines from Cambridgeshire-based Ivor Searle with all work being managed through the platform.
Both developments are expected to underpin an acceleration in company car and light commercial vehicle service, maintenance and repair (SMR) work through the national network, which comprises more than 120 high quality independent garages – there are expected to be up to 200 by summer 2015.
In2-Connect provides contract hire and leasing companies and fleet operators and service providers with a simple one-stop-shop for all SMR, tyre, glass and vehicle hire-related transactions.
The in2-Connect platform was developed in conjunction with industry professionals with users paying a single transaction fee per job authorised. There are no set-up costs, no licence fees, no minimum spend fees and no invoice spend percentage mark-ups of any description, for life use of the platform.
IGC operations director Dave Poole, who for more than two decades has run independent garage Autolube Ltd in Letchworth, said: “Independent garages have largely steered clear of using online authorisation platforms in the past because of the high cost of entry and significant usage charges which mean profit margins on work undertaken are quickly eroded.
“But now all IGC member garages are being asked to sign up to use the in2-Connect platform and we expect it to be part of the criteria for membership. Usage charges are fair to the trade and will enable garages to reinvest their profits in ensuring they are fitted out with the very latest cutting-edge diagnostic equipment and other machinery.
“Introduction of in2-Connect is a real game-changer for IGC because for many of our members it will be the first time that they will be using electronic SMR authorisation platforms. It will significantly reduce their own administration and save costs and time, which will drive further improvements in business efficiency and productivity.
“What’s more many contract hire and leasing companies and major fleets expect the garages they use to utilise online trading platforms because it reduces their own administrations burden. As a result, we anticipate the volume of work through IGC garages to accelerate rapidly.”
Meanwhile, Ivor Searle has been a supplier of remanufactured engines and other vehicle parts to fleets, including the emergency services and local councils for many years. Fleet managers frequently choose to have remanufactured engines fitted to vehicles following a seizure because they deliver cost savings over units supplied by the original manufacturer.
Until 18 months ago Ivor Searle provided a “supply and fit” service to fleets utilising a handful of garages in a network which it established.
However, explained operations director David Eszenyi said: “Administratively managing the garages was a burden so we returned to a supply-only service. But a lot of fleets prefer a supply and fit service because they don’t want the hassle of making their own arrangements to have an engine fitted.
“We personally know many of the garages in IGC membership and we have great confidence in the management team behind the network. The relationship is in its infancy, but we have every confidence that a high quality and consistent level of service will be delivered to fleet customers, which is why we have re-introduced a supply and fit service to fleets.
“Serving the fleet market is a particular priority for Ivor Searle, which is why we have a dedicated fleet department to make fleet managers’ and maintenance controllers’ lives easier.”