45 garages have signed up for the scheme that majors on image and identity but also provides IT, marketing and training back up. FSG is looking to recruit another 55 garages, via its factor members, by June 2005.
There are strict criteria businesses need to satisfy in order to qualify for participation. The first is internet access, to support the MAM Autowork diagnostic software.
The second is being able to paint the premises in the bold AutoCare colour scheme. So far some potential members have been turned down because the terms of their lease do not allow exterior painting. Garages also need to be main road businesses, have at least two technicians and two lifts.
“There isn’t another installer programme with this level of investment,” says Adrian Lamb, FSG automotive group manager. “AutoCare stacks up very well against other installer concepts in terms of IT and training, but none offers the image and identity support that we do.”
AutoCare also provides three mailshots to existing or potential customers to build local awareness, and six days technical training per year. In return each factor and garage pays an annual charge of £650, rising to £700 for the second and subsequent years. FSG claims an AutoCare garage will increase its spend with its sponsoring factor by 20%. FSG is aiming at nationwide coverage.
At this stage of the programme the group is particularly looking to recruit members in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north-east of England. FSG is a member of Group Auto Union (GAUI), an international body of buying groups. The concept is already established in 3,000 garages across the continent, where it is branded Top Garage or Euro Garage.