Could your business benefit from a bit of Gator-Aid?

Could your business benefit from a bit of Gator-Aid?

With an army of over 150 approved fitters in the UK and an array of innovation awards on the mantelpiece, AlloyGator has a lot to shout about. Here we look at whether your business could benefit from a bit of Gator-Aid!

The sight of a parent sitting nervously in the passenger seat, warning their teenage child to “be careful of the kerbs” is a scenario that will no doubt resonate with car owners aplenty.

The fact that you’ve reluctantly agreed to let your most precious possession, your child, take control of your second-most precious possession, your vehicle, is enough to send the stress levels racing at the best of times.

Of course, there are other dangers on the road that can cause alloy damage, but kerbing the wheel remains the most common. An irritating and unnecessary occurrence, a scuffed or scratched alloy not only looks unsightly, it can also affect the overall sell-on value of a vehicle when that day eventually comes.

Aside from asking the council to fit cushioning material to every kerb in existence, it appeared that there was no solution to this common problem. That was until 2007, when a new innovation entered the market.

AlloyGator is an independently-owned, patented alloy wheel protection system that reduces the risk of wheel damage.

The team, headed up by Curt Rathbone, is a group of automotive professionals with a combined industry background spanning back five decades. The product, which is available in ten permanent colours, is made of a “Super Tough Nylon” material and sits between the alloy wheel and tyre, which not only protects the alloy, but also adds a gloss to appearance.

Tried and tested at the MIRA testing facility, the AlloyGator is currently available in one size to suit vehicles with up to 21” alloys with a maximum gross vehicle weight of three tonnes. Although the fitting procedure is relatively straightforward (each set of AlloyGators purchased comes complete with comprehensive fitting instructions), there is a level of competence that fitters still need to meet, as certain aspects can be quite tricky.

For this reason, the Gator-Aid network was launched, consisting of reputable businesses who are fully training in the correct fitment of the product and how to best promote the service to their customers.

The network of fitters, which now exceeds three figures, runs down the spine of the UK and is continuing to grow. Our visit to a few of the network’s leading lights thus gave us the opportunity to see for ourselves how a set of AlloyGators is fitted and, as importantly, how independent garages can benefit from becoming a network member.

Garage testimonials

Dinos Christoforou, of Spiros Motor Technicians, believes that the product is easily marketable and desirable to those customers who may have already damaged their wheels or simply want to ensure that they have preventative measures in place to avoid any future issues.

“For us, the product sells itself. Furthermore we make full use of the marketing material on offer – such as posters and leaflets – and even have a selection of cuttings showing the different colours that are readily available,” said Dinos.

“We also mention the product to any customer who we feel would benefit from its fitment. We believe it (AlloyGator) is a brilliant invention; with all the new styles of alloy wheels being released, including the diamond cut and two-tone paint effects, repairing them can cost up to £90 per wheel. With the AlloyGator, our customers get to protect all four road wheels for a fraction of the price.”

The trip to Bartlett Automotive – owned by Damien and Natalie Bartlett – illustrated further the opportunities that exist for independent garages, although Damian initially struggled to fit the protector between the alloy and the tyre on a Mini Cooper S, he did eventually discover that the glue and gripper had not stuck together and this, he said, emphasised the need for the product to be fitted by a correctly trained technician.

Curt Rathbone (left) collects an Auto Express Produdt Award

QUESTION TIME – Curt Rathbone, MD, AlloyGator

Q. Why should garages become part of AlloyGator’s Dealer Network?
It gives them the opportunity to supply and fit a relatively unique product that offers good rates of labour margin – circa £70 for under an hour’s work if you sell the service at our recommended price.The network also gives the workshop the opportunity to spot other maintenance issues, such as brakes, and offer remedial repairs for these.

Q. What are the steps to becoming a member and what sort of training is involved?
The garage/dealership will make contact with us or we will contact them, should we need certain coverage in specific areas. Before we’ll commit to making them a member, we’ll ascertain suitability and make sure the business is the right profile for us – for instance checking its local reputation. We will then advise what is required in terms of commitment for the first order, which is normally a minimum of 10 sets. Finally, we will arrange a suitable date for us to visit and carry out the necessary training.

Q. What makes a good fitter?
We look for businesses with a good reputation and a low head-count turnover. As a result we can train one person to fit, without the risk of them departing and leaving and the business offering a product that they have not been trained to fit. A business offering MOT and tyre related work is attractive to us.

Q. What is the hypothetical revenue for a garage that fits two or three sets-a-week?
Three sets fitted per week = £210 in labour charges alone, excluding VAT. That translates to £840 per month and £10,920 per annum.

Q. What other benefits do independent garages stand to gain from becoming a member?
Membership obviously offers the garage an opportunity to increase its revenue stream by fitting AlloyGators, plus any additional work they may obtain from the customer due to them visiting the facility. For instance, the technician could notice the vehicle needs a new exhaust whilst the car is on the ramp. Additionally, there is a strategic appointment of fitting locations so they will not be competing with other local garages.

Q. What makes you stand out from your competitors?
AlloyGators are a British designed and manufactured product, with patent protection worldwide. AlloyGator is the original alloy wheel protection system which has been on the market for some 4 years. We have had testing performed by MIRA – a world renowned automotive testing facility – as well as supplying main car dealerships such as Jaguar, Bentley, Citroen, Volvo, Lotus. PMM awarded us a ‘Top Products’ award in 2012 and we have also recently won the Auto Express Top Product award for 2013.

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