Keeping stock clean and presentable can mean a dilemma for dealers and fleets.
Is it worth employing your own valeters and thereby having control over costs or is it better to sub-contract the work out to professionals which will be cheaper?
With new car registrations down
by 24% in April dealers are scrutin-ising costs which has forced many valeting companies to review their prices.
According to Pam Blanchard, office manager of Secure Valeting, some smaller dealers and bodyshops have suspended the company’s services because their own staff are cleaning vehicles.
Blanchard said: “We have found a few have terminated our services within the last six months and we presume it is because, rather than making their own staff redundant, they are using these people to do their valeting.
“Most of them have said when things improve they will come back to us.”
In addition, Secure Valeting has had to adjust its pricing due to larger-sized dealers and fleets cutting costs.
But Blanchard said staying with sub-contractors offers dealerships flexibility over employing their own.
She said: “We are providing all their manpower and have the flexibility to cope if they are busy or quiet by reducing the manning levels to suit.
“Dealerships don’t have to worry about the cost of the equipment and don’t have any overheads apart from our costs.”
This is a view echoed by Darren Rendall, corporate and business development manager for Falcon Car Care.
He believes contracting out valeting work is the best way at the moment due to fluctuating volumes.
Rendall said: “I supply quite a lot of sites with one valeter, which costs thousands less than it would to employ someone because you don’t have to pay sickness and holiday cover.
“If you employ someone you wait three months to see if they are any good, but with a sub-contractor a manager will go to see them and sort things out there and then.”
The company monitors pricing to remain competitive, although it is concerned about how far squeezing prices will go.
Rendall said he hopes valeting companies’ prices do not become increasingly cheaper because nobody wants to work for nothing.
The firm also cleans showrooms and forecourts, although Rendall noticed over the winter dealerships were not spending as much money on the service.
However, this side of the business has recently picked up.
The figures for sub-contracting out valeting also speak for themselves.
One company AM spoke to said employing a valeter could cost a dealer about £24,000 a year while it can supply the same person for £340 a week, saving about £6,000 a year.
Dealers concerned about handing over such an important part of the business to a sub-contractor are reassured some valeting companies, including Motorclean, monitor both cost and efficiency via specialised computer systems.
The technology reduces paperwork and allows companies to keep an eye on what has been done, reducing the risk of duplicating jobs and providing an audit trail for management.
John Hammond, Motorclean’s sales and marketing director, believes the valeting side of the business is the most important because if a customer collects a dirty car it lets down the efforts of every other department.
First impressions of the car counts
John Hammond said: “No matter how much the customer has enjoyed buying the car, if it is not delivered clean and tidy the whole experience falls apart.
“It is important we see ourselves as part of the whole experience because our work is the first thing the customer sees when they collect the vehicle.”
Hammond also said dealers had been squeezing valeting companies on prices. He said: “We never set out to be the cheapest. We want to offer a quality service. For the sake of £1.50 per car does it really warrant reducing your costs? The cheapest deal is not always the best deal.”
Lance Boseley, sales and marketing director for Jewelultra which supplies valeting products to the trade, agrees the vehicle’s appearance is paramount to providing excellent service.
Boseley believes the difference between a happy customer and an unhappy one is the appearance of their car when they collect it.
He said: “Having just spent thousands of pounds of their hard-earned cash they are not going to be very pleased if one of the alloy wheels is dirty or the interior carpets are covered in muck. That is why it is so important dealers employ the right valeters and check quality control is second to none.”
Valeting also presents profit opportunities. This can be from just offering a valeting service to a complete paint and fabric protection process.
Boseley said: “There is no doubt that the focus on paint and fabric protection has increased as the margins in new and used vehicles has declined. The fact that a dealer can make over £150 per vehicle just by offering a product like Diamondbrite cannot be ignored.”
Recruiting overseas workers
Foreign workers are among those who can make up part of a valeting companies’ or dealerships’ cleaning workforce.
However, according to www.bizhelp24.com there are four important points an employer needs to know before employing people from overseas. These are:
- Prior to employing anyone from outside the UK an employer must make the person provide documentation to prove he or she can legally work here. This paperwork includes a passport showing the holder is either a British citizen or has the right to live in the UK or is a national of a European Economic Area (EEA).
- It is the employer’s responsibility to check that the documents are correct., therefore ensuring the name is spelt correctly on all paperwork and no dates have expired. Does the person match the photograph on the documents and does their date of birth tally with their appearance? Some people are only allowed to do certain types of work, so check they are allowed to work in your industry.
- Employers need to make a copy of all the relevant documents to keep in its records. Photocopies are fine although scanned pages must be kept on secure media where the information cannot be edited or deleted. The copies should be kept with the employer’s personal records for at least three years.
- Depending on your candidate’s country of origin you will need to follow a different procedure. The three most likely situations are:
- A person is from one of the A8 countries (countries which joined the EU on 1st May, 2004) which are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia
The worker must apply (or provide evidence of exemption) to the A8 Worker Registration Scheme within one month of starting work for you
- Employing people from A2 countries Bulgaria and Romania which joined the EU on 1st January, 2007
You must check whether these workers need to be authorised by the Home Office before they start work. Evidence must be shown if they are exempt or get them authorised before they start work
- Those from the European Economic Area (EEA), EU countries excluding those in the A8 or A2, or Switzerland
EEA and Swiss nationals are entitled to work in the UK. They will need to show you a passport or identity card from an eligible country or a permit/certificate from the Home Office.