Equipping Automania for the future
When customers ask big questions, and there’s nobody worse than Richard Goddard of Automania to ask big questions and present big challenges, I believe here at Dyson’s we are a company that is big enough to take on these challenges and answer the biggest questions without any drama and provide the best solutions - and it doesn’t always cost as much as you think.
Back in 2011 when Green Flag made a decision on its ‘super agents’ I received the call from Richard Goddard, not normally a call you would get from Richard, more subdued and intense. “Roger, I need some help and I think you and your company are the people who may be able to provide help at this very difficult time.”
So a meeting was quickly arranged and driving off to London to meet Richard, I was expecting him to announce he would quickly require some new Green Flag vehicles, however what a surprise, having broken the news to me that he wouldn’t be part of the new Green Flag organisation and 50% of his work was to disappear.
I didn’t really know what was coming next; also we had the fast approaching LEZ compliance for London which meant that some of Richard’s vehicles needed to be replaced without further delay.
Richard explained: “I’ve lost 50% of my turnover, some of my vehicles are not LEZ compliant, I believe I have new contracts and work from other sources but this is all new and we are not in a position to place a massive order for new vehicles and equipment so I need help and ideas.”
The challenge had been clearly batted back into my court and although we had not supplied Automania for a couple of years I had a great respect for Richard and the work he had done in the industry and how determined he seemed having just lost such a large chunk of his turnover.
Likewise we are always determined to help take on board customer requirements but Richard had just had a big wake-up call and any suggestions of him not continuing or selling the company was not apparent, his determination was strong and he is a man who likes to win and I wanted to be part of that winning process.
So what was to be done? Richard obviously wanted to move forward to test out how strong his new working-relationships and customers were before making a big investment, however this could not be done with his current vehicles and the LEZ compliance was around the corner, so we started with an order for two new vehicles which couldn’t be delivered immediately from stock and had to go into production to be built to Automania’s specification.
So what was the immediate solution that could get Richard working within the LEZ and servicing his new customers? The answer, four LEZ compliant vehicles were supplied from the Dyson hire fleet into Automania. Two would remain long term and two would be replaced by the new units currently on order so the stage was set; Richard was actively pursuing his new customers and providing the service, Dyson hire vehicles were livered in Automania and two new Isuzu Sla Hydraloader slidebeds were put into production for the earliest possible delivery.
The fight was on and we were up for the challenge and happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with Richard, supplying the vehicles and ensuring that he could supply the service to his new and existing customers.
From our first meeting which was quick and precise, an action plan was decided, but it is amazing how much has come out of that initial meeting, since then we have supplied more new Isuzu’s with Hydraloader SLa’s and Iveco Daily’s with the Hydraloader aluminium platform into the Automania fleet. With everything working nicely, the vehicles in place, hire vehicles returned, customers happy, Automania’s business was rapidly moving forward.
Looking back now with 10 new vehicles delivered, three more rental vehicles being retained by Automania for their peak period with two more Isuzu Hydraloaders to be delivered on the March 1 2014, what a result and a credit to Richard.
One meeting, 12 vehicles later and four further orders in production for 2014 delivery, I’m glad I took on the challenge, I’ve also taken some mild abuse from Richard along the way but all in all I believe we’ve met our challenge and stepped up to the mark and provided a very determined operator with solutions to his vehicle requirements over the last three years.
Dyson’s is a company that has resources and is always keen to take on challenges, I’ve enjoyed the Automania challenge and working with Richard is the ultimate challenge, he has his own company to run and what I’ve learnt as a supplier is that he wants solutions and requires his vehicles in service as quickly as possible, although I firmly believe he thinks we go to the cupboard and take out a new vehicle finished in Automania’s livery and put it in the post the next day!
These are great challenges, very rewarding and good for my company, sometimes in business we need challenges, we need to stop thinking about the things we can’t do, sometimes I don’t really understand why we can’t achieve anything we put our minds to. We are truly British and sometimes I believe we perform better on the back foot with the impossible in front of us. We have a good working relationship with Richard and Automania and I would welcome any more of Richards’s challenges or any operators who need help, support, solutions or even just vehicles and equipment.
Business is business with Roger, but it’s good business
You know when you’re bang in trouble when you have to turn to Roger Dyson for advice, and as I pressed ring on my phone I felt like a chicken asking Colonel Sanders for political asylum. However, I’ve known Roger Dyson since 1982 and in his own way he has been legendary as one of the industry’s premier truck builders who only tells the truth when a lie won’t do! But one thing I’ve never been able to question about Roger Dyson is the quality of his work and his vehicles, as they are second to none! My managers convinced me of that as they know more about trucks than I ever will and insisted that Dyson’s were the way forward.
So Dean and Laurie, you were right! But you don’t have to negotiate with him, and I do!
I learned a very valuable lesson from Roger one day as I screamed down the phone at him, ‘you promised me the truck would be ready in February’ Roger replied quite calmly, ‘but I never said what year Richard!
I‘m not going to harp on about Green Flag, I’ve put that issue firmly behind me, and on reflection now it looks like Automania has had a lucky escape, I’ve taken the positive view and I am completely focused on the customers that still support Automania and it has become my vocation to return the loyalty and support given to me by all of my current customers.
In order to do that I needed to invest heavily in trucks and equipment, and having lost half of the business, I needed a quick fix and a long term strategy, enter Mr Dyson.
Our first meeting didn’t begin very well, as Roger pre-empted the situation, asking me how many Green Flag trucks I needed! I thought he was taking the p***, and my answer was un-printable!
And I watched Roger’s eyes light up when I brought up the prospect of buying second hand trucks and hire vehicles, it’s common knowledge that I know nothing about cars and even less about trucks but have to say that Roger’s help, advice and flexibility was integral in my forward planning and he has taken a genuine interest in Automania’s survival and not just a monetary one!
I promised my customers that Automania would invest, and since that initial meeting, we have taken delivery of ten of Roger’s vehicles, I have three currently in-build to hopefully be delivered by the end of this month. I have ordered another three Isuzu’s to be delivered by the end of April, or as Roger calls it - June! My current customers who hitched their wagons to my old empty ones can rest assured that with their continued support Automania will continue to expand its fleet and our ever-growing brand.
Many operators bemoan the role that the clubs have played in the recovery industry, but recent events prove that they have been the life blood to many of us, and as we become more reliant on each other as massive voids have begun to appear across the network it is now more important than ever that a positive relationship between operators and work providers is worked upon for the survival of us all.
Relationships are important in this industry and I’ve had a fantastic association with Isuzu and in my opinion It’s still the best truck and brand out there backed up by an excellent customer service. Although my best friend and ally, Nikki King has now formally retired, she has been replaced by the more than able Pete Murphy, who when you can understand him is much like Nikki, a genuine personality who understands the relationship that Nikki built with us all, and I look forward to working him in the future.
To buy trucks some of us need finance, and I must give a mention to Robert Flintham at Sterling Capital Finance, they are brilliant, Rob works at the pace that’s needed and makes things happen when needed, especially at a time when certain financial institutions may have run for cover; Robert now understands the recovery industry and Roger Dyson’s unique personal calendar which is also very helpful.
So customer support, financial flexibility, a product you can trust and a truck builder who will work with you, made the perfect combination to assist in Automania’s survival and now our future. I want to personally thank all of my customers for their support and their patience and assure them it has not been misplaced and is very much appreciated as we continue to grow.
As our new Isuzu’s continue to roll off of the Dyson assembly line, a big thanks goes out to Roger, business is always business with Mr Dyson there’s no secret there, but it’s been good business!
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