April - May Mag Issue 25 Paperturn - Page 9

operators signed on the dotted
line and carried on with the
work anyway. We understand
that busi-nesses have to make
a decision based, not only on
the facts, but also taking into
account some strategy and
forecasting which can often be
biased and wrong.
We are only humble recovery
operators trying to make the
right investment deci-sions
based on forecasts of expected
workload and this is inherently
difficult. It’s basically trying to
see into the future. By way
of an example of how difficult
fore-casting is, you only have to
look at what the experts have
said about Covid 19, from what
I’ve seen, it’s safe to say most
of them are wrong most of the
time - and they are supposed
to be experts. Prior to Covid 19,
scientists collectively forecast
that USA and UK were the
best prepared nations for a
pandemic. Say no more. Both
nations have the highest death
This decision process we all
go through, strangely enough,
means that some busi-ness
decisions tell us to accept some
work even though we know that
it’ll probably be unprofitable.
Holding on to contracts that
lose money, we tell ourselves,
is bet-ter than our competitor
operating on our patch and
pinching other work. - Come on,
be honest, we’ve all had those
conversations. So, it should
also be said that the recovery
industry is also responsible for
our own erosion. If only there
was some sol-idarity…..
rates, we have had the
opportunity to look across the
channel to see how the French
recovery opera-tors are coping.
AVRO has maintained close
links with the French Recovery
Asso-ciation - Fier D’etre
Depanneur. Their President, Luc
Le Baron has been extremely
helpful. The information he has
provided will hopefully give us
more reason to hop up and
down and demand a fairer deal.
paid less than the french.
Please see below a comparison
table of rates for France’s
equivalent statutory vehicle
recovery scheme. The
rates have been converted
to sterling @ €1.11/£1.00.
The French operators pay
10% management fee to the
‘principal’ on each job, and this
is included in the figures below.
It pains me to answer for you,
but probably not. Just like
the scientists who mostly get
most of the forecasting wrong,
recovery operators don’t appear
to be much different. It may
take a global event, such as
Covid-19, for the breakdown
recov-ery market to change so
spectacularly that both recovery
supplier and work pro-vider
will have little influence in the
The French matrix allows for
more car recovery scenarios
than the UK, and all of them
allow for the recovery operator
to charge for additional time,
specialist equipment for RTA’s,
travel and repairs, so the french
are permitted to charge more
than the base rates in the table,
which widens their earnings
over their UK counterparts even
The comparison of the French
/ UK divide on rates is yet
more evidence of what is, and
has, happened to our proud
industry. Will it be enough to
make you hop up and down and
think about agreeing to these
contracts that subsidise the HE/
Po-lice and the management
agents over what’s good for us
and for the tax payer?
So, here’s my forecast, we may
see a system re-boot that will
re-calibrate supply and demand
where those with the capability
(thats us), if played correctly, will
see an increase in rates, Covid
19 could be set to change the
landscape, and I hate to say it
because there will most likely
be some awful casualties, but it
may be a blessing in disguise (if
you can call it that) for those of
you who hang tight, espe-cially
if we are successful in changing
the statutory recovery law.
Interestingly, The French have
managed to gain recognition
for the extra costs in-curred for
recovering vehicles between
1.8T and 3.5T. UK contracts, in
the main, ignore this additional
Mercedes RAC - new
cost to the industry. Another
management agent
observation is that over 3.5t,
the French recovery operators
are free to charge ‘market
value’ with no manage-ment
fee levied. This fact will add to
the woes of those UK recovery
Lessons from France
operators on this side of the
On solidarity, we may have
water that pay FMG circa
something to learn from our
£1,500 to receive a telephone
French recovery counter-parts,
call for a roll over or circa £220
not only are they good at
hopping up and down, blocking for an SO9, so UK operators
only receive £129.00 out of the
roads, when it suits them, and
£350 fee, FMG/HE are awarded
winning prizes from Guinness
World of Records for the longest £221 for taking the call, now
recovery traffic jam in the world, that’s fair.
they are also good at sticking
In essence, if you look at the bar
together to get a good deal for
chart for 1.8t to 3.5t vehicles,
their industry.
UK operators have to do twice
Since AVRO’s recommendations as much work than those in
France, and still manage to get
on the HE/FMG contractual
Apologies for continuing on this
line about rates, but AVRO have
been receiving reports this week
that the Mercedes commercial
contract has changed hands,
We all remember the days
when you could earn a decent
profit working for Mer-cedes
dealers direct. Sadly, it all
started to go wrong for us when
FMG were initial-ly introduced
as the ‘management agent’
on the promise that they’d
deliver the recovery service for
Mercedes with considerable
savings, whilst matching the
ser-vice levels of the previous
family owned independents
who’d supplied Mercedes for
decades. FMG effectively took
the recovery contract from the
local operators and sold it back
to them for approximately 33%
less, pocketing the margin for
managing the calls. That’s good
For once the industry stood
firm and that arrangement fell
apart. We heard how many
local independents refused to
work for the managed scheme.
Our mem-bers reported that
before long the main dealers
started hopping up and down
as the network of operators
being used in their place
were not fit for purpose and
all sorts were going wrong.
The professional recovery
operators had a momentary
reprieve and Mercedes started
using us all direct again.
Regretfully the AA emerged as


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