A new independent garage recruitment drive is underway for epyx’s long-established 1link Service Network.

It has been prompted by existing customer demand for a wider choice of outlets and new customers joining the platform wanting to continue to use existing suppliers not currently on the network – as well as the effects of the coronavirus crisis creating a bottleneck of both MOT testing and general maintenance work.

1link Service Network is used by fleets totalling four million cars, vans and trucks to buy and manage service, maintenance and repair (SMR) from nearly 9,000 franchise, independent and fast-fits.

Debbie Fox, commercial director at epyx, said: “There’s perhaps a tendency to look at this recruitment drive and conclude that it is a result of fleets wanting to buy more SMR from independents.

“Rather, what has happened is that more SME fleet business is being transacted through the platform as a result of new epyx products designed to target these users. Many of these businesses tend to want to still use their local independent with which they have a longstanding relationship while embracing our technology.

“We are also seeing increased demand for SMR services in places where geographically, no local franchise option exists and in these places, we are looking for high quality independents.

“Finally, the coronavirus crisis has had an obvious impact on SMR, especially with the six-month MOT deferrals creating the potential for a glut of demand for testing from the end of September, alongside widespread delays in maintenance creating a backlog.”

Debbie said that independent garages had long since formed an important part of the SMR provision with 1link Service Network.

“A large proportion of our network has always been drawn from non-franchised dealers and they have always been part of our proposition. Currently, they account for more than 46% of the SMR suppliers listed on the platform, and they are widely valued by our fleet customers for the services they provide.”

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