Kwik-Fit Fleet Meeting Longer Investment Cycles with Increased Service Provisions
A dominant player in the UK passenger car and light van sector, in which it estimates it has a market share of “75 per cent and growing”, Kwik-Fit Fleet has seen increasing opportunities for the provision of fleet maintenance since the recession – hastening the advance of policies already in play before the financial crisis. Peter Lambert, sales director at Kwik-Fit Fleet told Tyres & Accessories that the extended replacement cycles of many car and van fleets coincide naturally with “increased fleet demand for tyres and mechanical work including vehicle services and MoTs”, while also increasing pressure on fleet managers to ensure older vehicles remain on the road. “We anticipate that fleet demand for all forms of mechanical work at Kwik-Fit centres will continue to increase as all businesses look to minimise vehicle downtime,” concludes Lambert.
In terms of the relative importance of factors such as vehicle downtime and fuel economy to fleet managers, Lambert is more inclined to place them in the same category: “There are a number of issues that are frequently cited at the top of industry surveys and they all ultimately fall under the heading of ‘cost management’. Over the years fuel efficiency and keeping vehicle downtime to a minimum have always been top priorities for fleet managers. In recent years – pre-recession and during the recession – there has been a trend for fleets to extend vehicle replacement cycles. This has been due to the continuing improvements in build quality of vehicles and longer warranties and service intervals introduced by motor manufacturers.
“With an increasing number of businesses extending their fleet replacement cycles, Kwik-Fit Fleet has not only fitted more tyres to fleet company cars and vans, but is also undertaking more mechanical work – MoTs and vehicle services as well as fast-fit maintenance repairs such as on windscreens and air conditioning unit recharging.
“As cost management is such a key focus for fleet operators, they and contract hire and leasing companies have recognised that by using Kwik-Fit Fleet for servicing, MoT and other mechanical work they can save money. As a result, we have a major growth opportunity as our price proposition is fantastic when compared with franchise dealers.”
Kwik-Fit Fleet has extended opening hours on every day of the week, putting it in a good position to service vehicles more promptly. Lambert also believes Kwik-Fit’s typical average cost – commensurate with model-type and mileage – “is up to 20 per cent less than at a franchise dealer. However, for some vehicles servicing costs can be up to 34 per cent cheaper than at a franchise dealer.”
Lambert says that Kwik-Fit Fleet “has experienced growth in 2010 across the fleet sector – small and large fleets, car and van fleets and outright purchase and leased fleets.” The company’s large market share is in part thanks to “significant business partnerships with virtually all of the UK’s top 50 contract hire and leasing companies as defined by the Fleet News ‘FN50’. These include significant sole supply arrangements with many organisations including the likes of Lex Autolease (the UK’s largest contract hire and leasing company) and LeasePlan (the second largest),” says Lambert.
While Lambert was unable to disclose 2010 figures, “in 2009 Kwik-Fit Fleet reported a 10.4 per cent rise in sales – up to £203.6 million from £184.4m in 2008 – notably due to MoTs on company cars and vans increasing 89.7 per cent year-on-year and fleet vehicle servicing rising 54.2 per cent.
Tyres & Accessories reported Kwik-Fit’s first-time launch of a winter tyre programme, which was launched on the back of increased “fleet demand… in the last two years due to the harsh winters we have seen,” says Lambert, who also says the company has been “inundated with calls from public and private sector fleets” since its announcement. One of Kwik-Fit Fleet’s major customers, British Gas announced recently that it is equipping vehicles with winter tyres servicing customers in the Scottish Highlands and Peak District.
Investments in service and feedback
So how is Kwik-Fit Fleet investing in its business in order to meet the growth it is seeing and expects to continue? Lambert told T&A that the areas of investment “to further improve customer service” in the past 12-15 months have been “significant”. 2009 saw the introduction of Cybit’s web-based fleet tracking service to the company’s 220-vehicle mobile van fleet “to manage and analyse mobile worker performance, enhance the organisations employee duty of care provisions and provide a range of customer service enhancements, including a faster delivery of service.” The competition in the mobile segment is described as “increasing” and Kwik-Fit’s aims in using Cybit are “to reduce costs, improve efficiency and at the same time provide innovative customer service.”
In the centre sector, Kwik-Fit Fleet increased the number of centres that could undertake MoT work to 532, while 653 are equipped to undertake vehicle servicing. Kwik-Fit Fleet also launched a free fleet vehicle servicing and MoT collection and delivery service at “a third of the Kwik-Fit centre network – about 220 locations – with a view to the initiative being available nationally”, adding value “to meet demand from Kwik-Fit’s end-user fleets and contract hire and leasing company customers.”
More recently, Kwik-Fit increased its training budget by £1 million – “£3.2m already is invested annually in staff training with staff at all levels of the business attending courses at one of Kwik-Fit’s five Training Academies.” The company is also seeking greater levels of feedback, which Lambert describes as “crucial…as the business strives to remain the dominant force in the UK’s fast-fit marketplace. Therefore the company is doubling of the mystery shopping programme from the fourth quarter of 2010.
Lambert also points to the increased use of the web in its service offering: “During the latter half of 2009 and into 2010 Kwik-Fit Fleet launched its Service24 initiative. It improves fleet driver communication and delivers an enhanced data information service to contract hire and leasing company customers.” Service24 software helps to manage the “pre-determined service standards and rules set by both their employer and leasing company provider.”
In January, Kwik-Fit Fleet launched its Vehicle Health Checks to help companies comply with duty of care legislation, including Tyre Safety Checks, “which now number close on 300,000 a year”. Kwik-Fit Fleet has 15 tyre auditors, who carry out the checks, topping up oil and screenwash and making service recommendations where necessary.
In June, Kwik-Fit Fleet introduced Bosch braking components at all of its UK centres. “We are introducing Bosch brake components as part of our continued commitment to service maintenance and repair, and our desire to continually improve our service to fleet customers. Bosch’s pedigree in brake technology is recognised worldwide and that helps to ensure safer driving and aids company car drivers if critical situation occur on the road. Bosch braking technology provides peace of mind with the fitment of a high specification, quality product.”
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