Fleet News

Joined-up thinking to win Inchcape business

AN education programme at automotive services company Inchcape UK is tackling a problem. Is it the biggest company you've never heard of?

Certainly, most fleet decision-makers will know at least one aspect of what the company does, but few know the true extent of its business operations.

But in the same way that you know when you see a police car that it is part of the overall emergency services, incorporating fire and ambulance as well, Inchcape chiefs want businesses to understand the massive network that lies behind each of its firms.

Such understanding is a vital element of the company's business plan, which aims to build business, particularly by introducing current customers of different parts of the group to its other operations.

Leading this campaign of awareness is Graeme Potts, managing director for Inchcape UK and Europe, who has a background of senior positions, including chief executive of Reg Vardy from 1996 to 1999 and group managing director of RAC Motoring Services until 2002. He now has his sights set on making Inchcape a much better understood company.

He said: 'Inchape is similar to the RAC in that it has great potential for being a joined up solutions business. What we do is not very well understood in the marketplace.'

Inchcape offers three main services covering retail and distribution; corporate motoring solutions and out-sourced automotive services.

Potts added: 'We are a complete automotive services company delivering solutions to major corporate clients. Our goal is to be the leading automotive services business.'

The main challenge is clearing the mist surrounding this £1.2 billion turnover mountain of a company.

The company is split into three divisions.

Inchcape Retail covers the dealership network, with 68 dealers representing 15 franchises, one of the largest retail groups in the UK.

Inchcape Automotive, formerly Eurofleet, offers a vehicle management service aimed at fleet operators, motor manufacturers and daily rental companies, with services including vehicle transport and logistics, technical services, inventory management and remarketing.

It is backed by a 140 vehicle transport fleet carrying out 450,000 movements a year. It offers an Inspect and Collect service with 200 staff moving 120,000 vehicles a year and carrying out 53,000 inspections. The business covers basic trade plate movements, field inspections and new car delivery.

It also carried out 66,000 pre-delivery inspections a year and it refurbishes 94,000 vehicles a year. In addition, it stores 8,000 V5 documents and 32,000 spare keys. It also has a thriving remarketing programme, covering more than 20,000 vehicles a year.

Inchcape Fleet Solutions is the fleet management and contract hire and leasing arm with a fleet of more than 48,000 vehicles, including 27,000 fleet managed units. A focus on electronic delivery of services through the internet and the extranet offers key services, ranging from online authorisation to online reporting and an web-based breakdown reporting system.

And this is where the education part of the equation is added. For example, fleets which have vehicles delivered from an Inchcape dealership may not know that the firm also has a contract hire arm, or that it can also transport, inspect and remarket vehicles.

Terry Bartlett, managing director of Inchcape Fleet Solutions, said: 'We are looking to grow organically and achieve a fleet size of 55,000 units by the year end. We will be using our existing technology to encourage existing and potential clients to agree solus deals.

'We will be moving more into the 500-vehicle plus sector for contract hire and making use of brokers through Inchcape Retail.'

The size of Inchcape Retail, with a turnover of more than £1 billion, is the biggest weapon.

Together, the three divisions can offer services throughout a car's life, from preparation and delivery, through funding, management, servicing and onto defleeting and remarketing.

Inchcape UK also has the strength of being a global operation, which inspires confidence for big clients to invest in its services.

For example, customers of Inchcape Fleet Solutions include American Express, United News and Media, Reed and Vodafone.

Recently, a review of fleet operations at Prudential secured a new service from Inchcape Fleet Solutions offering drivers a single point of contact to organise vehicle servicing, routine maintenance and mechanical repair for their vehicles.

Prudential is one of the largest life insurance companies in the UK and has more than 13,000 employees, with a total of 25,000 worldwide.

It compared 10 outsourced vehicle management providers in a tendering process before choosing a supplier for its 900-vehicle fleet.

Inchcape Fleet Solutions will be providing its maintenance management service through a dedicated Premier Service team, based at the firm's Portsmouth head office.

The maintenance management team of technical controllers will use their training and buying power to reduce downtime and get value for money from suppliers.

John Wills, fleet manager for Prudential, said: 'We were impressed by the quality of Inchcape's response. They were able to demonstrate quality service, together with tangible cost savings in a professional manner.

'We saw a number of companies during our market evaluation, but Inchcape stood out from the rest. This was underlined by excellent references from existing customers.'

Ken Lee, marketing director for Inchcape UK, said: 'People like the fact that we are a global company, independent, solid and focused on the auto industry. We can deliver other people's brand values for them as a business-to-business partner.

'We occupy a unique space and must now generate more value from it.

'This could either be through the dealer network, remarketing or through the leasing division, where we can offer white label services which reflect the customer's brand and also reduce administration and cost.'

Potts added: 'We are in the vanguard of developing a quality relationship with customers and the signs are very positive as the people heading up the businesses really understand their markets.

'Inchcape can deliver joined-up services to customers and becoming customers of each other inside the business.'

Preparation centre provides support

INCHCAPE UK has invested £5 million in a purpose-built pre-delivery inspection and used car preparation centre to support its dealers in Surrey and Berkshire.

Operations covered include BMW, Toyota/Lexus, Jaguar, Land Rover, Ford and Vauxhall.The centre, in Brooklands, Surrey, opened in April and will handle 12,500 cars a year.

The aim is to decongest retail sites to free up capacity for other aftersales work. Previously PDI and used car preparation was carried out in retail workshops by technicians.

The 2.75 acre site will employ 30 technicians and will be open daily with the possibility of 24 hour running seven days a week.

Graeme Potts, managing director of Inchcape UK and Europe, said: 'The centre will provide untold benefits to these businesses and their customers as we decongest our dealerships.'

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