Every company offers a programme designed to make its own package more attractive to bodyshops, promising greater efficiency and profitability.
Repanet, for instance, is the worldwide network for independent Standox bodyshops. One of its stated aims is to promote and represent bodyshops at insurance company head offices, helping them to develop their businesses.
“The independent bodyshop needs support not only in everyday items, such as paint systems or better ways of working, but also more intensive help in developing their businesses and developing a voice across Europe,” says Neville Dickson, marketing manager for Standox.
“The refinishing market is changing rapidly across Europe and around the world. It is no longer good enough to be part of a national bodyshop organisation when the decisions that affect the future are being made internationally.”
All members of Repanet have to meet the same standards across Europe. The programme, launched in December 2002, includes a European repairers best practice forum which allows businesses to share information and ideas. There are currently 45 members in the UK and about 600 across Europe.
“Only the best bodyshops, meeting the strict criteria, are invited to join Repanet. In return, the programme gives its members services that will help them grow and meet the challenges of the coming years,” adds Dickson.
While this international aspect of the programme is a benefit, is there a risk it could lose touch with local market issues? Not according to Ralf Rauschning, international manager of Repanet and Standox bodyshop programmes.
“National Repanet organisations operate close to the market and are able to react quickly to changes,” he says. “The network gives them insights into what’s happening beyond borders where colleagues may be facing similar challenges and implementing different solutions.”
Nexa Autocolor, part of PPG, offers bodyshops a tailored business services through its Autocolor Solutions programme. Its main focuses are on development, efficiency and control together with technical training.
“The potential profitability of a business depends in part in its effectiveness at marketing itself.
Similarly any bodyshop is constrained by its overall capacity, how quickly accident damaged vehicles can be repaired, from estimating to final delivery,” says a Nexa Autocolor spokesman.
“We work with bodyshops and offer them services to improve these elements of their business and maximise their resources. Along with this we offer tools to help monitor and control the quality of work. Optimum quality of work and service ensures customer satisfaction, which in itself adds to the development of long-term business growth.”
Sikkens Acoat is a bodyshop development programme which includes more than 40 skilled consultants working with a network of 1,100 bodyshops across Europe. It was established by Akzo Nobel 30 years ago with the aim of working with forward-thinking bodyshops to improve businesses.
“Acoat consultants understand that there is no such thing as a standard bodyshop and so there is no one solution that works for all,” says Rab Lee, services manager for Akzo Nobel Car Refinishers.
“At the beginning of the relationship, they carry out an onsite inspection of the business. Together, we can move the business against targets so progress can be measured. Then through one-on-one planning we create a business development plan, covering all aspects such as operational, marketing and financial.”
Five Star service
DuPont’s Five Star programme is well established, having been set up 15 years ago. Its modular segments address strategic areas allowing bodyshops to choose the areas most useful to them. One area earmarked as a potential growth sector is the local fleet market.
“With our network, covering the UK and Ireland as comprehensively as we do, we know we can provide excellent repair services to fleets no matter where in the country they are based,” says Chris McKewan, Five Star programme manager.
“Small fleets, where the personal touch counts, are the type of contract our Partners excel at. What they offer is about more than just a good, cost effective repair. Our aim is to deliver high performance goods to meet every requirement and to supply first class support for bodyshops.”