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Bodyshop: Sapphire Garage proves to be a gem for Thatcham

It’s been a few days since your insurance company arranged to have your damaged car taken away for repair.

You call the bodyshop to find out how the work is going, and the chatty guy on the other end gives you a full update that the car has been through estimating, panels have been replaced and it will be heading into the spraybooth by the end of the day.

You’re happy that it won’t be long before your car is back with you, and put the phone down thinking what a pleasant, informative receptionist Sapphire Garage has.

What you won’t realise is that the ‘receptionist’ could well be its managing director Tony Arnone. He explains his hands-on approach: “If the customer is ringing, you don’t want them getting annoyed with the phone system.

“We have 10 extensions and when the calls overflow they come directly to my office. We know how to deal with any queries and it lets us know who isn’t answering calls.”

The business puts a great deal of emphasis on customer satisfaction.

It has mobile estimators in uniform who visit claimants in order to assess damage, ensuring that in minor cases the claimant is able to keep using the car until it’s booked in.

During the repair, customers can see progress online or telephone for updates.

At the end of the process they are asked to complete a satisfaction survey.

So it frustrates Arnone that many of the issues which are raised by customers are out of his hands. The supply of incorrect parts or unavailability of a part are responsible for “at least 10%” of delays.

The unavailability of comprehensive sets of repair methods from vehicle manufacturers is another challenge. Yet here is another area where Arnone’s philosophy on business – “put in more than you take out” – also applies.

Earlier this year Sapphire Garage gained the Thatcham BSI Kitemark, based on the PAS 125 standard which requires repairers to use approved methods for repairs, where available.

Since then, Arnone has been very vocal in providing feedback to Thatcham and BSI on any gaps in methods.

The business

Name Sapphire Garage, Manchester
Turnover £4 million
Managing director Tony Arnone
Repairs 60 per week
Work providers Liverpool Victoria, Chaucer Insurance, Saga Insurance, WNS Assistance, FMG, FARG,
AI Claims Solutions, Countrywide Assist, the AA, Arval, Fleet Support Group
Workforce 25 productives, 25 non-productives
Paint schemes PPG, Sikkens, Dupont
Facilities Six spraybooths, five jigs, 80 repair bays

  • Read this story in full in the 25 July 2008 issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.
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