The Quickco business, established in 1981 to handle spare parts for the group, soon began to focus exclusively on Ford parts.
It now employs 380 staff handling 24,500 stock lines. One in five sales go to 21 key customers - 20 Ford dealers and one utility company. They are linked to Quickco via dedicated ISDN lines which cost £2,000 a year.
Quick group operations director Angus Brown said: “The investment is totally worthwhile because of the benefits it brings in speed, security, ease of customer access and the accuracy of orders.
“There is no chance of parts numbers getting mixed up and, if there is a problem, the origin of the error is easily traceable.”
A further £100,000 will extend the service to all 230 dealers that are part of the Ford dealer intranet from July. It will become the primary interface between Quickco and its Ford dealer clients, accounting for 50% of orders. Quickco intends to put the Ford parts catalogue on to its website (www.quickco.co.uk) by the end of the year, allowing independent dealers and private customers to order parts online.
This will cost another £50,000 but the expense will be quickly recouped.
“Our gross margins are 20% on sales of £70m,” said Mr Brown. “We calculate that using e-business in this way will reduce our costs by 5% and have a big impact on the profitability of Quickco business.”