It has begun rolling out a multi-million pound re-brand of its network to enhance its service for customers and make the businesses more efficient.
The company, owned by Goodyear Dunlop, aims to build a network of 250 workshops by 2010, turning over £100m annually, by offering franchises to entrepreneurs and existing automotive businesses. At present it has 30 franchised and 115 company-owned outlets.
Managing director Neil Burrows told AM that HiQ has already been approached by several franchised dealer groups interested in adding its fast-fit operation.
“The three to five-year old car business is one that franchised dealers know they are losing out on, so they are interested in an opportunity to capture them through HiQ as it is brand neutral and not associated with any car franchise, unlike Rapid Fit or MasterFit.”
The initial franchise fee is £10,000, followed by annual fees depending on the size of the business, but capped at £10,000. This covers all support, such as branding, training, marketing, a dealer management system and business management assistance.
Start-up costs could be between £50,000-£100,000 for facilities and equipment, said Burrows, but many franchisees already have a garage business which could be converted to HiQ. The minimum requirement is two service/fitting bays. In return, Burrows said, they can expect a 10% average return on sales.
Peter Tye, national franchise development manager, said 100 open points have been identified. His priority is to build representation within the M25 and in the north-west of England, and he hopes some franchisees will create small groups of five to 10 HiQ centres.
HiQ was driven into action by qualitative research into motorists’ opinions of fast-fit operations. The study determined that service and maintenance is viewed as a distress purchase of a low interest product. Private motorists are anxious about charges and value, while company car users are more concerned about convenience and lost time.
Earlier this year it launched the HiQ Academy, which delivers training on service excellence, teamwork and communication, technical training, health and safety and IT systems.
It has also relaunched its website and added an online retail function.
Users enter their vehicle’s registration number to be presented with a selection of value, mid-range and premium tyres appropriate for their vehicle, priced lower than in store. They then book a fitting slot at their chosen HiQ workshop.