Fix Auto is signing around two bodyshops per week and hopes to end the year with a network of 30 outlets. Enquiries have risen four-fold recently.
Contrary to a piece in the last issue of AM – and indeed the perception of some of its members – the group says it has two work provider agreements, one signed with Fortis in 2006 and a three-year deal signed with Admiral last spring.
While not every bodyshop is approved for work, the agreements were written by Fix Auto and include the majority of the network, according to head of Fix Auto UK John Matthews.
“That’s still classed by us as a work provider agreement,” he said. Matthews claims the concept is not about putting work into the bodyshop, but about offering security to smaller independents.
“Insurance companies are looking increasingly to work with groups – Fix Auto takes bodyshops to the insurers’ table,” he said.
Bodyshops who join commit to changing their branding from their company name to Fix Auto affixed with their trading location.
The company changed its pricing policy in August from a gradual fee to an upfront initial payment with a reduced monthly fee in order to speed up investment on branding.
This money pays for signage, floor tiles, reception furniture, wall colours. The work is carried out by a contracted fitting company.
“We were fed up with bodyshops not doing what they said they would . Now they have to pay upfront.” Matthews has had to remove six shops for a variety of reasons.
He still believes Fix Auto will get to a network of 200 bodyshops and says the concept, which faces competition from Synergy (see AM, November 28), is at the point of really taking off.
“When we get to the other side of 50 shops we become a very interesting proposition for work providers. Our leverage will start to become a reality,” Matthews said.
He is also looking at opportunities for Fix Auto to act as a buying group. Deals are in place with Sikkens for paint and Basic Welding for welding supplies, although members are not mandated to use those companies.
Matthews is also close to agreeing a group corporate insurance deal that would save bodyshops tens of thousands of pounds.