But it is not only cost that could increase – the workload for repairers such as Autoglass will alter as developments such as panoramic windscreens become more popular.
The challenge for firms including Autoglass will then be to continue offering a top-class service to fleet customers.
This should not be a problem, according to Nigel Doggett, Autoglass managing director. He exudes confidence in his company, praising both the service and product it supplies to fleets.
Autoglass scooped its latest award – the Fleet News 2005 Best Glass Repair Company – this year and prides itself on being able to get company car drivers back on the road as fast as possible if their windscreen breaks.
Doggett explained why he believed Autoglass won the award for the third consecutive year. He said: ‘It was good to get the hat-trick and the reasons we believe we won again are that we are continually driving service, the speed of our response and safety innovations for fleet drivers.’
Autoglass has 130 branches, 1,200 mobile technicians and is at fleets’ disposal 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It has strengthened the fleet management team this year, aligning it with Autoglass’s regional operations. This means a bigger fleet account management team with 15 fleet sales people.
Doggett said: ‘We offer true national cover as our mobile workforce will go to any part of the UK. We have the newest and biggest distribution centre in the UK at 140,000 square feet and all of our call centres operate in-house.’
The group has several initiatives under way which ensure that the service provided to fleets is first class.
It even rewards its technicians for completing a job perfectly first time. Any callbacks and the fitter is reprimanded.
Doggett said: ‘We focus on getting every job right first time. Our fitters work on a pay-and-reward scheme. They are rewarded for quality and penalised for work which has to be done again.
‘Our philosophy is that we will repair first where possible. If the size of a chip is less than the size of a pound coin we will repair it. This is safe, slicker, quicker and cheaper. It saves fleets money and saves drivers time.’
The group also launched a dedicated free-phone service for fleets last year. This is reserved solely for fleet customers and gives priority service to get drivers back on the road even faster.
The service can also be used across Europe. Company car drivers calling for assistance can receive help in all European countries except for Austria and Finland. Doggett said: ‘The European cover offers seamless service across the Continent.
Fleets can get service almost anywhere. They phone the regular Autoglass number and someone will be sent to repair their glass anywhere in Europe with the billing then completed in the UK.’
Having a European presence has also helped Autoglass to develop its business practice internally. Doggett regularly meets other European decision-makers within the company to share best practice ideas.
He said: ‘We are constantly looking at how to learn from other countries and every two to three years we also have internal road shows. These communicate issues to employees such as new systems we are implementing. They also help deliver customer service and promote values to staff. It provides an update on business and is an effective way to speak to employees.’
Employing the right staff is fundamental to Autoglass and all new employees now have to attend the group’s new skills centre which opened in Birmingham last year.
It is all part of a major drive by the company to improve its service provision and there are no plans to stand still this year.
Doggett added: ‘This year our main focus is to offer even better customer service for fleets. We want to improve the quality from when the call is taken to the fitting, billing and administration. We want to take the hassle away from fleets and get drivers back on the road. We will be looking at innovations to drive down the overall costs for fleets and the service up. Fleets should see new initiatives by the end of the year.’
What the judges said
In a distress market where the customer would rather never see you, offering great services and fast response times is just the start.
An army of mobile technicians, large static network, wide range of products and focus on repair rather than replace help Autoglass ensure customers are helped quickly and efficiently, at the lowest cost possible. Clear evidence of innovation and best practice advice with customers that is being spread throughout companies. Backed by global expertise and European operations, it is also investing significantly in training to ensure it continues to meet the high service standards demanded by customers.
Autoglass fact file
Key fleet contacts
Nigel Doggett – managing director
Peter Lumsdaine – sales and marketing director
Katharine Brant – marketing support manager