Just 18 months ago, RAC Accident Services was fighting for survival.
It was a little-known business that had bypassed the attention of other RAC employees and senior managers, mainly due to a general lack of understanding of what accident management involved.
“It was a sleeping giant,” recalls John Lawrence, who was director of service delivery.
With 17 years’ experience in leading sales teams, he joined RAC Accident Services after being director of membership sales for RAC Rescue.
Mr Lawrence openly admits he knew nothing about the operation or even where it was based before he joined head of operations Phil Mairs and the accident services team in Stretford, Manchester, in March 2006.
“Internally, it just wasn’t understood and externally, we weren’t shouting about our expertise. As a result, the business lacked direction and remained static.
“It was a frustrating time as there was so much untapped potential waiting to be exploited. To keep the department alive, we had to get interest and buy-in from the business.
“Phil and I put together a business case which we presented to the board, and that night we got the call to say we had been given financial backing.
“It was the opportunity we needed to breathe confidence back into RAC Accident Services.
“We worked with our marketing team to put together a structured and integrated plan, including PR, advertising and the production of a designated microsite and DVD to provide a comprehensive package for our sales guys,” says Mr Lawrence.
“We also rolled out a national programme of roadshows to explain the nuts and bolts of accident services to our RAC colleagues, to help them sell the end-to-end proposition to potential customers.
As a result, we now have a sales team dedicated to RAC Accident Services.
“But we never lost sight of our vision and with strategic investment in new systems, a strong focus on the sales team and a structured marketing programme, our efforts paid off.”
Mr Mairs adds: “We spent 12 months playing catch-up with the rest of the industry while keeping costs under control, coupled with a strong expectation from the business for us to deliver what we had promised.”
It seems the results caused an “explosion of enthusiasm” within RAC.
Then in September 2006, RAC Accident Services broadened the horizons of its accident and legal services by merging the two.
“Relaunching RAC’s accident and legal services as one, in the fleet and financial sector, meant sharing best practices and processes – an operational capability that no other motoring service can offer,” explains Mr Lawrence.
“The synergy has cut vehicle down-time, helped to manage recovery and repair costs and, as a result, seen a reduction in driver inconvenience, at the same time as offering expertise in legal resources such as personal injury compensation and legal expenses insurance.”
Before contemplating the future, Mr Lawrence is quick to add that none of today’s successes would have come off without such a driven and committed management team.
“With more than 12 years’ experience in accident management, Phil has all the operational knowledge and is a rich and valuable resource, not just within accident services but for RAC as a business.
“My role has been to utilise that resource, sell the dream to the business and the outside world, then move on to the next challenge,” he says.
Job done, John Lawrence left RAC Accident Services at the end of 2007 to face that next challenge – as director of business services at Trafficmaster, where he hopes to apply his expertise with similar success.
John Lawrence’s golden rules