Fleet News

Special feature: Mobile repairs for fleets that can’t afford to wait

WHEN drivers damage their vehicles and they need repairing, the clock starts ticking.

Every hour and every day they are off the road, costs are increasing. Either there are increased replacement vehicle charges or the driver can’t make important meetings, which could cost the firm time and money.

While there is little that can be done about a visit to the bodyshop following a major shunt, a number of new services have been launched, aimed at offering a more flexible solution to minor repairs.

For scratches, scrapes and dings, the smart answer is smart repairs, but Autoglass, part of the world’s largest vehicle glass repair company, Belron, believes it has spotted a major gap in the market.

If a vehicle has relatively minor damage that can’t be covered by smart repairs, a potentially long-winded and expensive trip to the bodyshop seems inevitable.

But by taking the mobile repair philosophy of Autoglass and transferring it to the bodyshop sector, the firm believes it has the answer with AutoRestore. A phone call is made to the driver before the visit to ascertain the damage levels. Getting drivers to reflect these accurately is key to the process.

Its repairers must be able to finish a job in a single day and won’t take on cosmetic work, such as alloy wheels. Major structural work is also out of bounds.

What they can do is repair, paint or replace up to four damaged panels on a vehicle, including bumpers.

Its fleet of vans is equipped with a fold-out system which creates a dust-free mobile bodyshop in the company’s car park. The car can then be repaired on site.

Richard White, sales director for AutoRestore, said: ‘The bodyshop market is under great pressure, with extended lead times and regional and seasonal capacity challenges. This impacts directly on fleets and their drivers.

‘Our research indicates that 20% of the body repair market is minor damage, which we classify as the vehicle being driveable, with damage restricted to less than four panels. We aim to complete every job within a week of notification.

‘Our mobile bodyshop is a key differentiator between ourselves and other mobile repairers as it allows us to recreate bodyshop conditions and use bodyshop products and processes. We offer a lifetime ownership warranty of all workmanship.’

Each van is equipped with all the paints, lacquers and ancillary products necessary to complete a job. Technicians also have direct access to the paint manufacturer’s website, via a handheld PDA, for accurate and up-to-date paint mix details.

Another benefit is a transparent price matrix, with a cost per panel regardless of make and model or extent of damage.

The only additional cost is for replacement parts but, like Autoglass itself, there is a repair-first philosophy.

The firm, based in Rushden, Northants, has an ambitious growth plan and currently employs more than 80 staff, of whom 55 are technicians based all over the country.

Customers include FMG Support, which claims to have saved its customers 2,600 days of downtime in the first six months of using the service.

White added: ‘About 85% of Autoglass work is mobile and we have built on that philosophy to offer a quality, branded and guaranteed national offer in accident damage repair. We bring the bodyshop straight to fleet customers.’

The clock is ticking: damage repair in a day

8.45am: Technician contacts customer to arrange arrival time

9.15-9.30am: Sets up canopy in car park to create bodyshop environment

9.30-9.40am: Technician drives vehicle in and covers it with plastic sheeting for protection

9.40-10.00: He then checks to see if any dents can be reduced to limit amount of filler used

10.20-10.30: Rubs filler down to meet shape of bodywork and restore contour of the panel. Not used in every job

11.00-11.20: Technician identifies vehicle colour and mix colour in ‘paint mixing area’ in back of van

12.35-1.00: Drying period using infra-red lamps. Time for the technician to have a quick cuppa

1.40-2.00: Fill paperwork in using PDA device showing work carried out, inspection report and invoice

2.10-2.20: Customer inspects work on vehicle and signs paperwork detailing work carried out and lifetime warranty

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