Members of the recently launched Independent Garage Cooperative (IGC) network are expecting a major increase in corporate business after introducing the In2-Connect online electronic trading platform for vehicle maintenance transactions.
The IGC network has also become the approved fitters of remanufactured car and van engines from leading supplier Ivor Searle with all work being managed through the platform.
Both developments are expected to underpin an acceleration in company car and light commercial vehicle service, maintenance and repair (SMR) work through the national network, which comprises more than 120 high quality independent garages - expected to be up to 200 by summer 2015.
In2-Connect provides contract hire and leasing companies and fleet operators and service providers with a simple one-stop-shop for all SMR, tyre, glass and vehicle hire-related transactions.
Cambridgeshire-based Ivor Searle has been producing remanufactured engines for more than 60 years. A remanufactured engine is one that is built to original equipment specifications using components from core engines. The company also remanufactures cylinder heads, gearboxes and turbochargers.
IGC operations director Dave Poole, who runs Autolube in Letchworth, said: “Independent garages have largely steered clear of using online authorisation platforms in the past because of the high cost of entry and significant usage charges which mean profit margins on work undertaken are quickly eroded.
“But now all IGC member garages are being asked to sign up to use the in2-Connect platform and we expect it to be part of the criteria for membership. Usage charges are fair to the trade and will enable garages to reinvest their profits in ensuring they are fitted out with the very latest cutting-edge diagnostic equipment and other machinery.
“Introduction of In2-Connect is a real game-changer for IGC because for many of our members it will be the first time that they will be using electronic SMR authorisation platforms. It will significantly reduce their own administration and save costs and time, which will drive further improvements in business efficiency and productivity.
“What’s more many contract hire and leasing companies and major fleets expect the garages they use to utilise online trading platforms because it reduces their own administrations burden. As a result, we anticipate the volume of work through IGC garages to accelerate rapidly.”
In2-Connect launched its platform in January 2015.
Managing director Aaron Brown said: “It will take time to ramp up platform usage, but industry interest and feedback is phenomenal so we are confident that we will be successful.
“However, we already have a significant number of businesses trading on the platform - garages, leasing and rental companies - and the IGC network is one of them.
Ivor Searle has been a supplier of remanufactured engines and other vehicle parts to fleets, including the emergency services and local councils for many years.
Until 18 months ago Ivor Searle provided a “supply and fit” service to fleets utilising a handful of garages in a network which it established.
Operations director David Eszenyi said: “Administratively managing the garages was a burden so we returned to a supply-only service. But a lot of fleets prefer a supply and fit service because they don’t want the hassle of making their own arrangements to have an engine fitted.
“We personally know many of the garages in IGC membership and we have great confidence in the management team behind the network. The relationship is in its infancy, but we have every confidence that a high quality and consistent level of service will be delivered to fleet customers, which is why we have re-introduced a supply and fit service to fleets.
“Serving the fleet market is a particular priority for Ivor Searle, which is why we have a dedicated fleet department to make fleet managers’ and maintenance controllers’ lives easier.”