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The Automotive Network

Nationwide Pay As You Go Breakdown Cover

How I tried to take on the RAC, Green Flag and the AA

DATE

2012

COMPANY

The Automotive Network

INDUSTRY

Breakdown Cover

Introduction

The business had a membership scheme which removed the need for annual fees. Through the use of it’s own vehicles and those of it’s partners. The company was able to provide nationwide coverage for breakdown and repairs. 2500+ breakdown companies. 24/7 emergency telephone support.

Built UK Network

I managed to convince and sign up over 2500 breakdown companies to help me gain Nationwide coverage.

Thousands of signups

Due to marketing tactics and help from a magazine, I managed to sign up thousands of customers to the PAYG cover.

Income from repair work

Many customers were referred to our own workshop. So we generated far more extra income repairing their vehicle.

AA copied the idea

After I went live, the AA soon took notice. They then created an app to directly compete with us. AA used marketing push to get attention of public. Other companies followed suit but ultimately failed.

Situation

I saw an opportunity to bring Pay As You Go Cover to a market only filled with annual fees.

Back in the years before smart mobile phones existed, where people could literally download anything they wanted at the press of a button. With GPS built into the phone. There was a time where people had normal phones. Think the Nokia 3330, or a flip-phone.

Now in terms of the breakdown recovery market. The general public all subscribed to one methodology. That is they would pay for breakdown insurance. A fixed yearly fee, with call-out limits. To one of maybe a handful of big insurers, who dominate the UK market.

People paid say, £100 a year for breakdown insurance.

Through research I discovered people only breakdown once in every 7 years. And average distance covered per day, was about 20 miles. So people would only be 20 miles from there home at any given time. Average cost of this would be £50 to help this customer.

Meaning customers over 7 years would be paying let’s say £650 more than they should be. According to the data.

No companies at that time offered PAYG Cover.
Clear gap in the market to see if customers would sign up for savings.

 

A Little Background Information

The Automotive Network was a company which started out delivering cars. They were effectively a middle man.

I had dealt with them and was impressed by the person running it. However he was behind the times. After a conversation he gave me the go ahead to work with him to move into breakdowns.

I became in charge of business development.
He probably didn’t take me seriously. But I carried on to prove him wrong. It was my task to build the network and get the foundations running.

Breakdown companies have all the power. 
There was no changing how they operated. They are so busy, and have specific vehicles and skills that they have the final say.

The biggest and best companies are slow.
To get the coverage needed, would require the best companies. These companies have meetings about meetings too. Needed creative thinking.

So that was the plan.

I was in charge of effectively starting a new branch of an existing company. Transforming them into offering this pay as you go service.

There were no other companies offering this at the time. I did wonder why. Sure you could call up a breakdown firm as a single customer. But these call operators charge a lot, if they are busy they even make up the prices on the spot. To effectively say go away, we don’t need your business. But it was worth trying to see if this idea had legs.

Challenges

To actually compete with the likes of Green Flag and offer something different I needed Nationwide coverage. If a customer breaks down, they needed to know they would be rescued quickly.

The UK is huge, would require lots of coverage.
Think of how many miles of roads there are in the UK. How long it takes a single truck to travel, just to service one customer. I’d need many companies signed up to help me.

Convincing breakdown companies to work with us.
They are very busy with RAC work. Usually they profiteer from individuals, charging more. I needed to get them to work with us for fair prices.

Convincing customers to switch from annual fees.
It would take a lot to get people to subscribe to pay as you go cover.

Actions

– Worked with and advertised using the professional recovery magazine. To get attention of all breakdown companies. This made them take me seriously.

– Worked with AVRO to get contacts of all the MD’s. Designed pricing strats to convince breakdown firms.

– Cold called 5000 breakdown companies. Sent letters out to 5000 breakdown companies. Emailed 1500 managing directors and owners.

– Personally travelled 6000 miles up and down the country interviewing and convincing breakdown companies to see my vision and work with me.

– Signed Mansfield Group. Maybe the UK’s largest company. 200 vehicles. 11 Service Centres. 320 Staff. Worked with them to ensure business plan was solid.

– Spent 8 months solid of travelling and making calls.

– Designed software to handle breakdown calls and to track recovery trucks. Trained and managed 3 staff to handle phone calls.

– Created website. Marketed using long tail terms on Google Adwords. Created blog content to get organic website visitors.

Results

Overall the business achieved something not seen on the market before. With thousands of customers. However the big boys soon copied the idea with apps, marketing and branding.

– Built UK network 2500+ breakdown companies.
– Signed up thousands of PAYG customers.
– Generating tens of thousands from repair work.
– AA created an app to directly compete with us.
– AA used marketing push to get attention of public.
– Others companies followed suit and failed.

Something Memorable

After receiving multiple threats and calls from this guy, I knew I was onto something great. It motivated me. Well Paul, I didn’t stop. I built the network.

Stop what you are doing. It will take years to develop a nationwide network. You are wasting your time. If you don’t stop I will make sure your business fails.

Paul Hoyle
Managing Director, Road to Recovery

Evaluation

The idea of PAYG is a waste of time. Not going to make millions.People have been brainwashed and scared into paying for breakdown insurance, despite not needing it.

Cars only breakdown once in 7 years. Each breakdown costs £50-£100. It’s hard to change how people think. Insurance companies spend millions to market & make people scared.

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