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Bodyshop news: Firm targets prestige brands

Accident Exchange is in talks with a number of prestige manufacturers over the provision of strategic management for their approved repairer networks.

The group, based near Birmingham, hopes to build on links with prestige brands and increase the support it already provides through its accident management and prestige credit hire services.

It recently won a contract to provide strategic support for the development of Bentley Motors’ global approved bodyshop network.

Gordon Grant, manufacturer account director at Accident Exchange, told AM that he was involved in on-going discussions on similar proposals with at least eight other prestige carmakers.

“There’s a big opportunity there if the manufacturers decide to move accident repair up their agenda,” said Grant.

“The next stage could be to integrate it into their roadside assistance package, so that the service is fully brand integrated.”

He would not reveal names.

However, Accident Exchange already has strong links with BMW, Audi and Lotus, with which it operates accident aftercare schemes that supply like-for-like courtesy cars and direct the motorist to their approved repairer.

These programmes could be expanded to include network management and support.

The Bentley contract, previously held by Carter & Carter, makes Kenny Wilson, Accident Exchange’s Bentley global paint and body programme manager, responsible for auditing the 24 approved bodyshops in the UK.

Wilson will also establish the carmaker’s repair networks overseas.

Repair quality and customer service at all sites have to meet Bentley’s standards in order to gain approval.

These standards include facilities, equipment and training.

Any gaps identified are highlighted to the repairer, together with a schedule for improvements.

Although it is not known how many damaged Bentleys are repaired outside the brand’s network, Grant predicts that greater volume of repairs will come once Bentley begins to market its accident aftercare service, expected to be before the end of the year.

This will encourage owners to make their Bentley dealer’s programme their first call following an accident, in order to continue the brand experience.

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