Fraikin has increased its fleet management sales by more than 8,000 vehicles in the past 12 months alone, capitalising on a growing trend for companies to outsource in testing economic times.
Among those making the big cultural shift are Cartwright, Scottish Power and Sainsbury, all of which used to manage their fleets in-house until they decided to tap into Fraikin’s substantial expertise.
On the contract hire side of the business Fraikin has been equally successful, winning its biggest single contract in its 33-year history in the UK, signalling a £27 million capital investment by the company.
That landmark contract is to provide over 400 custodial cell vehicles to GEO Amey PECS Limited (GEOAmey), a joint venture between the GEO Group - a global provider of correctional, detention and treatment services as well as secure transportation - and Amey, a leading UK public services provider.
Peter Backhouse, chief executive officer of Fraikin, said: “As a business we are developing a wide and diverse portfolio of valued customers whose needs range from just one vehicle to hundreds of vehicles.
“We have been very successful in moving ourselves into the higher level of service value for the customer. I think that’s borne out by the kind of clients that we are now attracting, such as Scottish Power, GEO Amey, Sainsbury and Cartwright, all customers with a high service expectation and a very demanding operating environment.
“We were delighted when Scottish Power set the trend in place. It has shown us that if we make the right proposition, engage the customer in the right way, and provide a competitive proposition, then there’s business to be secured. We implemented a major opportunity against a very, very tight deadline.”
Having successfully bucked the trend during the recession – even its rentals operation has remained buoyant, more or less escaping the customary seasonal January lull - Fraikin has plans for further expansion in the UK.
“We are expecting to see growth and to see earnings improved further,” said Backhouse. “We have a tremendous amount of support from our credit lines, a tremendous amount of capital capability open to us.
“I believe that by excelling in service you create a competitive advantage. As long as you are able to provide the service at a relatively competitive cost to the customer then you will capture that advantage and grow your business.”
As part of its drive to enhance services to customers, Fraikin has taken its 24/7 breakdown service back in-house, with nationwide cover being co-ordinated from a dedicated centre at Oldbury, West Midlands. There are plans to bring other essential services, such as servicing fridges, installing equipment and tyre management, back in house.
The company’s national network of dedicated repair centres will also be expanded in line with customer demand. Already Fraikin has established a ‘super centre’ at Coventry Oaktree that services major customers and it has recently taken over a workshop facility on a five-acre site at Wythenshawe, Manchester.
Backhouse said: “Where we have a critical mass of customers we want to be able to service their needs ourselves. We will always have an element of outsourced partners on the maintenance side, but as a service business I want Fraikin people to be responding to our customers.
“It’s the old cliché – you’re only as good as your last failure. I think that our people underpin all of our offering: the motivation and customer focus of our people is what makes a difference. We detest failure and it is not a word in our vocabulary.
”Through the hard work of our people I think we have taken a massive step forward for the future.”
Fraikin provides planning control, delivery, maintenance and 24-hour national breakdown cover for Scottish Power, which awarded Fraikin a four-year contract to manage its fleet of 2,842 commercial vehicles, auxiliary equipment and cars.
Similarly, Cartwright has recently entrusted the management of its entire fleet of 4,400 trucks to Fraikin, in a deal which represents Fraikin’s largest fleet management contract to date in the UK.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury has awarded a four-year contract to manage 220 home delivery 3.5 tonne vans in the South East.