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ATS Euromaster boss outlines strategy

A year ago Nick Gregg took on a job that he admits will never be finished.

As group managing director of ATS Euromaster, his arrival last November began a programme of continual improvement, introducing new ideas and reshaping the business.

Progress has been swift, with major organisation changes announced, along with the launch of new electronic systems.

But Gregg adds: "I am focused on ongoing improvement and we reach the first milestone at the end of this year. But the goals are being constantly revised, so really, the job can never be finished."

ATS Euromaster has a fast-fit servicing network of about 530 locations in the UK, backed by 1,100 mobile units and more than 4,000 staff, offering new tyres, exhausts, batteries, brakes and other key maintenance items.

As part of the Euromaster Group, it operates in 10 European countries, with more than 9,000 employees in 1,850 centres.

In the past, the UK operation was split between the car and van network and HGVs. But in the past year, this has changed as part of the ONE programme, creating a single business, with one MD and every function measured on customer service.

Webb says: "In bringing together the light and heavy strands of our business, our overarching aim has been to create a business united behind a single vision and working to a clearly defined set of objectives in order to deliver a total-customer focused service."

For fleets with drivers rolling into ATS centres, this should mean consistent levels of service, for example effectively imposing a fleet’s tyre brand choices throughout the network.

To back this up, the company has launched a web-based system that links all its centres to an electronic authorisation service, which automatically checks whether requested work is approved for that type of vehicle.

Currently, ATS Euromaster provides vehicle maintenance services to more than 50,000 business customers in the UK.

Gregg added: "We have a unique proposition, with 530 centres. Consistent service provision is vital. We are offering standard service to customers that the industry as a whole has not been very good at in the past.

"By having one network, we are also bringing together the intellectual capital of the whole business. Also, it was not clear to customers which centre delivered which services.

"Now if a fleet has everything from cars to lorries, it can talk to one centre." Another key shift is to look more at service overall, than simply at the product being delivered.

He says: "We do MoTs, oil and brake changes, but at the end of the day, many of these are just products. Our role is to be able to deliver these as a standard service.

"Our new organisation has the knowledge, experience and strength to create new and more cost-effective methods of tyre acquisition and tyre fleet management, offering a total tyre solution."

Its experience in the truck market points to potential future initiatives for fleet cars and vans.

When it offers support to truck fleets, there is intense pressure to keep them on the road at all times, because when they are not moving, they aren’t earning money.

With growing health and safety requirements for company cars and vans, the need for a professional vehicle checking service in the field is becoming more real, with some fleets already contracting out vehicle checks to outside suppliers.

Gregg says: "Every time a car fleet driver comes to a centre, there could be an additional check. We have the technology and we have the people."

The firm already provides a 10-point check to drivers, covering tyres, exhaust, windscreen, lights, screen wash, battery, engine oil, shock absorbers, tyre tread depth and coolant level.

But this could be extended to more rigorous checks for fleets, depending upon the wishes of the fleet manager.

Ensuring the expertise of employees in centres is constantly updated is also becoming vital, as the technology used in modern tyres constantly changes.

A growing number of vehicles are fitted with tyre pressure monitoring systems and ATS employees must know their way around these systems to ensure they work again when a tyre is replaced.

Then there is the issue of run-flat tyres and their effective replacement when a problem occurs, particularly because there are a number of different systems in the market.

And although fleets are being affected by increasing health and safety issues, ATS is having to ensure it monitors its duty of care to customers as well.

Gregg says: "Safe practices help our own people and our customers. For example, even on busy roads, quite often customers like to help us, but there are very strict industry rules about safety in these situations."

A year into his plan for the company, Gregg knows there is still a long way to go, but is relishing the challenge of his never-ending task.

He says: "This is a long-term strategic investment focused on customer service. This sends a message to the fleet industry and there is a lot more to come over the next 12 to 18 months."

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