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Service-A-Car has growth plans

Service-A-Car, the garage franchise company, hopes to grow its network from 600 to 800 garages over the next couple of years.

The Leicestershire-based company also wants to increase its fleet volumes, currently at around 20%, to account for half of its services and has recently employed a fleet manager to grow this side of the business.

Service-A-Car claims it can offer vastly reduced servicing costs, achieved by a setting a national labour rate and use of non-manufacturer original equipment parts.

The company, which started in 2005, wants to develop its network, with a focus on getting more franchised dealers on board.

Howard Thomas, a co-founder, said its appeal for garages included time saved on answering phone calls as customers go through Service-A-Car’s call centre.

It has seen a sharp increase in popularity as businesses struggle.

“We see this time as a springboard for our future success,” said Martin Skinner, co-founder.

“In terms of main dealers, customers will stop using them as soon as their warranties are up. We can bring that business back to them. Many have no work at the moment.”

A national advertising campaign is currently being launched which will help independent garages who couldn’t afford to undertake similar marketing.

Customers call Service-A-Car, which then does a garage search by postcode. It then deals with the relevant garage. All of the garages it uses will pick up and drop off a client’s car and will also do a wash and vac.

“It’s a non-starter if garages are not willing to do this,” said Thomas.

While there is no strict audit system for participating garages, Thomas said he and Skinner regularly check on garages. 

Many of the workshops are also involved in Bosch’s approval scheme.

“We address any problems that arise. If there are any serious problems we will immediately strike off a garage,” added Thomas.

He was unwilling to disclose how many cars it puts through or the percentage taken from customer payment before passing on the remainder to the garage.

While Thomas hopes to grow to 800 garages, he said 1,000 “would be nice”. Key expansion regions include Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

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