Osram completes Ring Automotive acquisition

Partnership between the companies will officially start on 1 May

The acquisition of Ring will allow Osram to expand its product range in the automotive sector to include more automotive electronics and accessories.

“In addition to expanding our aftermarket portfolio, the acquisition of
Ring will enable us to tap into additional sales potential and further expand our market expertise.

“The aim is to use the additional market and customer access
and create synergies in the product portfolio and distribution channels,” says Hans-Joachim Schwabe, CEO of Osram Automotive.

With the acquisition of Ring Automotive, Osram is strengthening its aftermarket business and offering customers access to a broader, complementary product range.

Both companies see the agreement as an opportunity for a successful European cooperation.

The common goal is to respond faster and better to new trends and challenges in the constantly evolving automotive lighting industry and to achieve further growth.

Both Ring and Osram will benefit from each other’s strengths. Ring’s experience and technical knowledge in automotive lighting, accessories and electronics makes the company a successful aftermarket brand throughout Europe.

Osram will in turn give the Ring portfolio access to the US market via Osram Sylvania’s established channels and open up new sales potential in Europe and the rest of the world with a differentiated brand strategy.

Ring’s product portfolio extends far beyond classic automotive lighting, and the company is particularly successful in the field of electronic car accessories.

The approximately 3000 products are available from over 3000 specialist dealers in more than 60 countries.

With 160 employees, the British company achieved an annual turnover of £46.1 million in 2018.

The affiliation with Osram secures further investment for Ring, which support future growth plans and product innovation in order to continue to grow, especially in the aftermarket segment.

Synergies are also being created in sales: Ring gives the high-tech company a UK and European platform to service its customers more quickly and with greater flexibility, Osram in return offers a global marketing system for the Ring product range.

With the takeover, Osram will also gain retail expertise for sales and distribution in Europe.

Together with Ring Automotive, Osram can expand the retail market beyond its existing portfolio of classic automotive lighting to achieve growth.

George Skalski, managing director of Ring Automotive, sees the start of the cooperation as a milestone in Ring’s 45-year history: “Being part of the Osram family offers us incredible opportunities for further global expansion.

“The synergies are enormous and will help us to continue our
innovation leadership together. In the future, our customers will benefit from the many years of experience of both companies.”

The parties, including the seller Rubicon Partners, have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the transaction.

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Free Valeo air-conditioning training to take place later this month

Legislation and best practices to be covered in online webinar

Valeo is to host free air conditioning training via a webinar which will cover legislation and best practices.

The 30 minute webinar will take place on 22nd May at 9:30am.

As well as garages that perform maintenance and servicing on vehicle air-conditioning systems, the course is also aimed at those who wish to become F-Gas certified and to motor factors selling air-conditioning recharge stations.

A Valeo spokesperson said: “As a certified IMI centre, Valeo Service UK invites you join in our interactive webinar and learn the best handling practices for refrigerant gases and understand what you need to keep you safe, and the certification required to handle refrigerant by law.”

For further information and to sign up to the free webinar please click here.

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The Parts Alliance to demonstrate “Best-selling” automotive tools to garages with new Milwaukee tool vans

Automotive tool VW Transporter van will help factors demonstrate stock to garages, allowing them to see ‘quality’ first-hand

The Parts Alliance has introduced a brand new Milwaukee tool van to its garage essentials fleet, helping the team to demonstrate its ‘premium-quality’ tool range to garages all over the country.

Demonstrating the wide range of Milwaukee’s best-selling automotive tools, the VW Transporter is fully liveried in striking red and black, bearing both the ‘Garage Essentials’ and ‘Milwaukee’ branding.

This latest addition takes the total number of vans operated by The Parts Alliance to eight, and allows the garage essentials team to demonstrate the range regionally, with the help of staff from local branches who have already forged good relationships with the garages in their areas.

“These vans are invaluable resource for the Garage Essentials team,” explained John Wright, product marketing director at The Parts Alliance.

“The most useful sales tool at our disposal is still often the ‘doorstep demo’, allowing customers to interact with the products and see the quality first hand.”

Garages can pose product questions

Such garage visits also give the team the perfect opportunity to respond to any practical questions technicians might have, doubling up as an informative training exercise too.

Products won’t be sold directly from the van, instead orders are made with the local branch representative on account for next day delivery.

Garages interested in seeing the Milwaukee tool van should keep an eye out with their local branch of The Parts Alliance.

You can find out more about The Parts Alliance and its services to the independent automotive aftermarket by clicking here.

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5,000 days’ worth of automotive industry revenue saved by technician temp programme

Autotech Recruit’s programme shows ‘dependence’ UK garages have on temps to fulfill labour gaps

Autotech Recruit, a provider of recruitment solutions for the automotive industry, has revealed its temporary vehicle technician recruitment programme covered 5,000 days worth of labour for leading car manufacturers and garages.

The launch of the programme, created to help leading UK car manufacturers overcome significant loss of revenue through the skills shortage, has proved successful with almost 25,000 hours filled over the last 12 months.

The figure demonstrates the dependence UK garages now have on temporary vehicle technicians to fulfil labour gaps, Autotech Recruit has said.

The manufacturer-led recruitment programme was launched by Autotech Recruit, in January 2018.

Reducing recruitment time

The overriding objective of the programme was to cut the time it takes to employ temporary vehicle technicians throughout a manufacturer’s retail network, improving service capacity, and counteracting the financial losses caused by empty service bays.

Under the programme, Autotech Recruit developed a bespoke solution to suit each manufacturer’s specific requirements, including access to an exclusive online booking portal, all-inclusive rates, and a dedicated team of recruitment specialists.

Trained to manufacturer standards

In addition, a group of regionally-based temporary vehicle technicians were sent on an intensive training course, at each manufacturer’s dedicated training facility, to ensure they are trained to the manufacturer’s specific standards.

Over the course of the year, Autotech Recruit forged alliances with leading car manufacturers, including VW Commercial Vehicles, BMW, SEAT, Renault and Ford, with over 70 technicians now trained and working within each manufacturer’s garages.

“Dealership garages are no different from independent garages, they still need to recruit technicians to ensure they are running at optimum capacity.” Gavin White, managing director of Autotech Recruit, commented.

“In 2017, we witnessed increasing demand from them for our temporary vehicle technicians and, due to the volume of this demand, we devised the Manufacturer-Led Recruitment Programme.

“Today, as a direct result of the programme, our temporary vehicle technicians are covering positions with manufacturers on both a short-term and longer-term basis, up to several months in some cases.”

For further information about Autotech Recruit, contact hello@autotechrecruit.co.uk, call 01234 240503, or click here.

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Aftermarket supplier Valeo honoured for reducing maintenance costs for fleets

Valeo has been named as 2018 European CV Aftermarket Supplier Company of the Year

Valeo, a manufacturer of aftermarket parts and supplier of service support, has been awarded “2018 European CV Aftermarket Supplier Company of the Year” by Frost and Sullivan during the “Excellence in best practices award banquet ceremony”.

The awards evening took place in London on 20 March, with Frost and Sullivan awarding Valeo the award for exceptional customer service, product knowledge, and warranty packages coupled with product innovations to help reduce maintenance costs for fleets.

The European Commercial Vehicle (CV) aftermarket is experiencing rapid growth, according to Valeo.

At the same time, key challenges are shaping the demand and the complexity of the market.

Regulations tighten, worldwide distribution networks get increasingly powerful, fleet managers focus even more on their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), workshops have to cope with more complex technologies and drivers get more sensitive to comfort.

Valeo has confirmed it is committed to carefully addressing each and every market need either through product innovation, avant-garde value-adding services and efficient digital solutions.

This is what their “We Care for You – Trust the Specialist” promise stands for.

Customer service

When providing their reasoning for awarding Valeo, Frost and Sullivan “believed that excellent customer relationships would empower Valeo”.

The aftermarket brand managed to perform by leveraging an outstanding support to its customers on field or through the digital technology highlighted by Frost and Sullivan with three key features.

Tech’Care programme

At the heart of the customer service at Valeo, the programme consists of technical training, technical promotion, and technical support provided to aftermarket professionals (mechanics and distributors).

Valeo’s team of technical promoters further broadens the customer experience by providing on-field demonstrations of parts and solutions to any problems or queries.

To foster even more rapidly this knowledge, Valeo implemented major e-services.

The Valeo Tech @ssist

The web platform giving free access to all Valeo technical information (fitting instructions, diagnosis, technical bulletins, Fitting videos).

This online tool is a source of technical information that Valeo designed to help technicians quickly search for parts by vehicle type, vehicle identification number (VIN), or product.

Reducing vehicle downtime

As a consequence, workshops are able to reduce vehicle downtime while servicing more efficiently and ensure accuracy when ordering parts at Valeo.

The Valeo Specialist Club

The 100 per cent digital rewards programme for mechanics.

This initiative awards points for scanning Valeo parts.

Valeo has asserted that it has the only rewards programme in the CV space and the only programme that is completely digital, taking only two minutes for account activation.

Rewards for garages

The programme allows garages to sign up using one account or open multiple accounts to reward individual teams.

Launched in Spain in September 2018, Valeo made the programme a success and managed to recruit nearly 1,300 members.

Valeo is now deploying the programme worldwide and sets new rules in terms of customer experience.

Customer experience

Frost and Sullivan believed that Valeo increased customer loyalty and is able to reach new clients through this hands-on approach, which will enable it to gain market share from competitors who are not providing in-person experiences.

Along with on-site experiences (test tracks and plant tours) two unique features made Valeo emerge in comparison to its competitors: two-year warranty and unlimited mileage for CV clutches.

Keeping its customers preoccupations in mind, Valeo has been recognised by Frost and Sullivan for its ability to anticipate regulations and automotive revolutions.

Fuel saving with Euro 6 TH Damper

This Valeo new disc enables a dampening performance increase of 40 per cent, the company claims.

The dampening performance allows an engine speed reduction by up to 200 rpm (rotation per minute), resulting in up to two per cent fuel savings (€650 to €750 per-year, per long haul vehicle).

Electrification with the iBSG System

This energy saving starter-alternator with integrated electronics receives kinetic energy from braking, to store electrical energy – it helps reduce fuel consumption by three per cent to five per cent in medium duty vehicles, and five per cent to 10 per cent in light commercial vehicles, depending on the drive cycle, according to Valeo.

Overall, for exceptional customer service, product knowledge, and warranty packages coupled with product innovations to help reduce maintenance costs for fleets, Valeo earned Frost and Sullivan’s 2018 European CV Supplier Company of the Year Award.

Find out more about Valeo’s award-winning services and product innovations by clicking here.

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Battery manufacturer launches operations at new factory to meet demand for Start-Stop batteries

Yuasa plant will focus on high-performance batteries for vehicles with emission reduction systems too

GS Yuasa, a global producer of automotive batteries, has launched operations at its Inci GS Yuasa lead acid storage battery plant in Turkey, which will help the brand meet demand for batteries including those that incorporate Start-Stop technology.

Over 100 million Turkish Lira has been invested into the construction of the new plant, which is aimed at producing high-performance lead acid storage batteries for environmentally friendly vehicles, such as those with Start-Stop technology and emission reduction systems.

Worldwide demand for these vehicles is set to grow rapidly, and Inci GS Yuasa, a subsidiary of Inci Holding and GS Yuasa, plan to reach production capacity of two million units per year.

Including the output of the existing plant, GS Yuasa aims to reach a total combined production capacity of six million units per-year by 2022.

The new plant, which utilises GS Yuasa’s latest technologies, production methods and quality standards, is a joint venture that endeavours to support continued sales expansion for the GS Yuasa group.

It covers 18,000 square metres and will result in a 25 per cent increase in employment for the subsidiary company.

Supplying demand for Start-Stop batteries

Andrew Taylor, managing director and CEO of GS Yuasa Battery Europe Ltd, said: “This is a significant and major investment for GS Yuasa and one which will provide an excellent technological platform to help meet the increasing performance, quality and supply demands of the automotive markets.”

James Hylton, managing director of GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK Ltd, said: “GS Yuasa’s investment in the advanced technology plant in Turkey is an important milestone.

“It will meet demand for Start-Stop batteries as well as help to reinforce GS Yuasa’s leading position in the global battery market.”

The GS Yuasa Group consists of 65 subsidiaries and 33 affiliates in countries throughout the world.

GS Yuasa will continue to work on further bolstering operations while also striving to respond swiftly to customer needs, the company has confirmed.

Find out more about GS Yuasa and its products available across the automotive aftermarket by clicking here.

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Servicesure summary

Ahead of the Autocentre of the Year awards, Servicesure members revealed why being a part of the network helps their workshop thrive, and garages can look forward to a new ‘tailored’ insurance service as a new partner is announced

Network members praise benefits of being with Servicesure

Servicesure has announced its ‘Autocentre of the Year’ winner at the eagerly anticipated ceremony that took place at Coombe Abbey on 11 April, with members in attendance praising the importance of the network’s benefits.

Senior members of The Parts Alliance were in attendance on the night to announce the winning garage from the seven finalists: A1 Motorist Centre, Chester Auto Services, Gordons Garage, Lowgate Garage Ltd, M M Auto Services Ltd, Simon Graeme Auto Service Centre and Burntwood Auto Centre.

Commenting on his garage’s nomination, Murdo MacIntosh at M M Auto Services said: “We have been with Servicesure for over six years, and were the first users of GS Onestop in Scotland.

“We try to use every element of the Servicesure offering and promote our association with the brand wherever possible, as it definitely brings added credibility and customer reassurance.”

Fellow nominee, Josh Watts, director at Burntwood Auto Centre, commented: “Being a Servicesure garage has made us stand out from the crowd in our local area.

“We can provide a great range of services that others simply can’t thanks to Servicesure, making us more attractive as a garage.

“It’s amazing for us to be nominated for the Autocentre of the Year as we are just a small family business who have only been up and running for just over 12 months!”

Dean Spindler, director at family-owned Chester Auto Services, also appreciated the peace of mind that goes hand-in-hand with Servicesure’s national warranty, allowing the business “to provide complete customer satisfaction.”

Having been a member of Servicesure for four years, Adam Rogers, director at A1 Motorist Centre, said: “We like the idea that we are part of a bigger group, so we can offer nationwide warranty whilst retaining our individual identity.

“There are countless other benefits too, such as training for continuous professional development for staff, access to technical assistance and customer finance deals that would have been so much more difficult to arrange without their input.”

Lowgate Garage, Gordons Garage and Simon Graeme Auto Service Centre were similarly delighted by their nominations and eager to praise the benefits of network membership.

Servicesure says that the ‘Autocentre of the Year’ awards are designed to shine a light on the hard-working and often under-appreciated local garages within its national network.

“It’s always a challenge to narrow our network down to just seven finalists, but it’s an incredibly rewarding process as these garages all absolutely deserve recognition for the great service that they provide,” said Paul Dineen, head of garage programmes at The Parts Alliance.

To find out more about the range of benefits enjoyed by garage members of the fast-growing Servicesure network, click here.

Servicesure appoints Bollington as new insurance provider

Servicesure has appointed Bollington as its insurance provider, supplying an exclusive comprehensive cover package for the national garage network.

The partnership commenced on Monday, 1 April, with Bollington’s team of local account managers providing a carefully-tailored, personal service which establishes each business’ individual insurance requirements.

Individual garage needs

An initial site visit will be arranged to run through each garage’s needs, with Bollington able to assist in areas such as road risks cover, premises cover, employers’ liability up to £10M, public ad products liability up to £5M, tools cover, engineering inspections, directors’ and officers’ insurance and business interruption cover, in addition to anything else the garage might need to be covered for.

With access to a range of insurers, Bollington offers insurance schemes that aren’t available elsewhere.

This includes plans which offer savings of up to 10 per cent on the garage’s existing renewal with their current insurer, insurance premium rebates of up to 10 per cent to reward good claims experience, cover for up to £2,500 of contents in customer vehicles (subject to insurer and terms).

Pauline Brookes, Bollington’s UK motor trade manager, explained: “Bollington has worked within the motor trade since it was founded over 45 years ago, starting off insuring local traders and garages as a general insurance broker before gradually building to now become one of the largest independent insurance brokers in the UK.

“We have a nationwide network of motor trade account managers, and because of our size and reputation we are able to negotiate great deals with insurers, while still retaining a friendly, personal service with named people managing and looking after the running of client accounts.”

Specialist risk management

Additionally, Bollington can also provide specialist risk management to help garages look after their health and safety arrangements, and its claims hotline is available 24-hours a day, every day of the year.

“Bollington’s industry credentials, along with its flexibility to tailor its service to create a bespoke package for each business in our network makes them the perfect business partner for Servicesure,” said Paul Dineen, head of garage programmes at The Parts Alliance.

To find out more about the full range of benefits enjoyed by garage members of the fast-growing Servicesure network, please click here.

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Customisable air filter shapes launched by MANN+HUMMEL

MANN-FILTER Flexline has flexible external contours to improve flexibility for technicians and fitters in engine compartments with limited space

MANN+HUMMEL has launched a series of customisable air filter shapes that aim to make more efficient use of space in engine compartments and deliver an improved dust-holding capacity.

Installation space in a car is a rare commodity.

Comfort functions, turbocharging, and much more have significantly reduced the available space in the engine compartment over the past decades.

In response to this, global filtration brand MANN+HUMMEL has developed new air filters with flexible external contours that make more efficient use of the available installation space.

Larger filtration area and higher standards

For the independent automotive aftermarket, they are available as MANN-FILTER Flexline C 26 017 and C 30 030 for the Mercedes-Benz A and B Class.

The C 26 017 air filter is for petrol engines and the C 30 030 is for diesel models.

The use of further elements with flexible contours for other automotive manufacturers is planned.

Whereas flat air filters based on rectangular, trapezoidal, and polygonal forms with straight lateral edges were once the dominant design, the MANN-FILTER Flexline also makes efficient use of installation spaces with curved external contours.

“We can accommodate a larger filtration area compared with conventional designs, and thus achieve higher separation efficiency and dust holding capacity,” said Daniel Schmid, product developer for Automotive Aftermarket Air Filter Elements at MANN+HUMMEL.

“With Flexline, we produce the air filter contours using state-of-the-art laser technology.

Produce almost any shape

“This means that we can produce almost any shape that was not possible with the conventional method.

“With this laser technology, we are setting new standards in filter manufacturing,” emphasised Schmid.

Compared with filters with limited geometries and straight lateral edges, the C 26 017 air filter has features such as 11 per cent more filter surface area, 22 per cent higher dust holding capacity, and 16 per cent lower pressure loss.

At the same time, the new Flexline air filters are also flatter than standard products, which means that can be used in particularly low installation spaces.

Mercedes-Benz has adopted solution

Mercedes-Benz was the first vehicle manufacturer to use the innovative solution, and is now using it as standard for its MFA2 (Modular Front Architecture) platform.

The air filter will therefore be used in almost all four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines from the A and B Class as well as their derivatives in the future.

MANN+HUMMEL has filed several patents for the manufacturing method and the design of the Flexline air filter with the German Patent and Trademark Office as well as in other countries.

To find out more about the products and stocking the references at your factor, click here.

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Branch Focus: SCMF Croydon

SCMF Croydon has flourished during the last year, winning the New Branch of the Year Award but, as branch manager Bill Barrett explains, a different approach to customer service has been key to their branch success.

Having only opened a year ago, SCMF Croydon has enjoyed a remarkable rise to its recognition as New Branch of the Year, but what does branch manager Bill Barrett think is the key to their successful formula?

“I believe in giving clear expectations to my team and giving them the support to achieve them.

“We always have a clear development plan in place to support sales growth.

“Regular meetings to review performance in all areas help to make sure we are achieving all KPIs.

Bill explains more on the ideas that have helped the branch perform so well

“I spend no time in my office; 90 per cent of my time either with supporting the sales team, supporting the warehouse or visiting customers.

“I like to remain visible and active, which I feel is proactive – and to make sure we have the right people in the right places,” Bill confirms.

Winning the award has proved pleasing recognition for SCMF Croydon

“We were shocked and hugely appreciative to win.

“It’s nice to have the recognition of our blood, sweat and tears that have gone into getting the branch to where it is and we’re proud of where we’ve come in a year.

“It’s made us want to work even harder to be in with a chance of winning the big one next time out,” the branch manager says.

Branch-specific initiatives can help maintain customers, but The Parts Alliance’s national activity has been invaluable too

“I have been extremely impressed with the offering from the marketing team.

“The level of support and incentives available along with localised support is second to none.

The branch has a team of 15 staff with 10 delivery vehicles.

Bill also maintains a keen focus on staff training, encouraging multi-skilling staff to have flexibility to cover absences

“Being part of The Parts Alliance really does embrace local service with national strength.

“Through trading as SC Motor Factors or Allparts, for instance, it makes you relevant in the area whilst being able to have the same offering that the trade has grown to expect.

“Targeting and developing customers, holding the correct product, pricing and logistics are just some of the things we get great support on, which in turn allows us to better meet our customers’ needs.

“The support we received and continue to receive since opening has been second to none,” Bill concludes.

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Branch focus: GSF Banbury

The inaugural winner of the Branch of the Year Award at The Parts Alliance explains the secret to their success and how their processes are helping staff serve customers better

It’s official: GSF Banbury is The Parts Alliance Branch of the Year; but, with national recognition from the trading group, how do you create a successful branch and deliver those high levels of service? As branch manager Max Stubbs explains, sometimes simplicity can be key.

Being an award winner, you might think there is a recipe for success that is needed to be named as the number one branch within The Parts Alliance, but consistency has been one of the key methods of generating success.

Branch manager Max explains: “We just stuck to our standard internal processes laid out by GSF and The Parts Alliance.

“As long as we’re doing everything we should, everything else falls into place.

“Things can go wrong very quickly if you deviate from what you should be doing, and this has a knock-on effect on other areas of the branch.”

Moving away from the tried and tested could be costly then, but what does the Banbury-based branch think it has been doing particularly well?

He continued: “Being proactive and not waiting for business to come to you – it won’t.

“Also building customer relationships, most of our top customers would consider us more than just a supplier, we are someone on the end of the phone that will go the extra mile for them.”

How does Max know when GSF Banbury is delivering well or not for customers? Is positive feedback key to this process?

“Absolutely, but we also get negative feedback and that is what we need most from customers.

“If we don’t know what issues a customer has we cannot solve them.”

Constantly developing from any criticism has evidently helped the award winners during the last 12 months, but what about The Parts Alliance itself?

“We’ve just finished two mid-sized promotions and are currently half way through our yearly major promo.

“What we have on offer at the moment is bigger and better than we’ve had before.

“In fact, I just dropped off a TV to one of our my customers as part of the weekly draws we are having.”

To deliver such a comprehensive customer service offering, Max utilises a pool of five vans and ten members of staff, yet it’s apparent the development of them rather than the sheer volume has ensured that the branch is equipped to succeed.

Making time for staff to better themselves is at the core of his work in the branch, and no shortage of careful employee management has been key to the recent award win.

He says: “I will always spare some time with my staff to help better themselves, if I can.

“If I feel they are weak in certain areas, I push them in that area to increase their knowledge or ability.

Career progression

“We also have an online-based learning platform where all members of staff can log in and progress through all manner of different courses, which is ideal for career progression.”

Carrying on the theme of doing the simple things well, it seems there are no real surprises in the product mix for Banbury either.

“The basic bread and butter items of braking, filtration, steering are still core to our business,” he reveals.

This has all helped GSF Banbury win the first ever Branch of the Year Award from The Parts Alliance, but it could not have come as more of a surprise to Max.

“I had no idea there were even going to be awards, and even then, that we’d be up for it,” he remarks.

“It’s nice to have the recognition that what you’re doing is going so well and that it’s recognised by the leaders of the business.

“Knowing that what we’re doing is valued goes a long way.

“The team we’ve got here are just that bit different.

“Everyone gets on and works for each other and goes the extra mile.

“It’s more than just a job for us because we strive to be the best.

“I sent the team a photo on the night and everyone was shocked and over the moon.

“I always praise the team when they do well but it’s great to get that from above me as well.

If GSF Banbury’s phenomenal year could be summarised by one key element, Max is clear in his answer.

“Communicating with customers,” he maintains.

“Whether it be good or bad news, or just a catch-up chat, keeping in contact is key to building and maintaining a good relationship.”

Having those relationships is taking GSF Banbury to new heights, but technology is becoming increasingly important to a successful branch, and Max does not underestimate this.

“We use Allicat as our main lookup and invoice platform,” he notes.

Speeding up sales

“Since this was introduced to GSF, it has helped no end in speeding up the sales team in booking parts out.”

“The support and resources you have within The Parts Alliance is huge, and to have the ability to go down avenues we haven’t been able to before is fantastic.

“It just means we can offer so much more to our customers,” Max concludes.

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