WIPER BLADES. We all need them. An essential visibility aid in the rain, of course, they could be performing another useful function: providing a valuable revenue stream for your business.
Funnily enough, though, it’s an opportunity many businesses appear to be overlooking. But the guys at Trico are looking to change all that.
Trico is a name you’ve probably heard of – after all, the company became the first commercial manufacturer of wiper blades almost 100 years ago.
But did you realise what a valuable business partner the company could be? How easy it could be to find a bit of space on your premises to display and stock its products? And how much extra profit you could pull in?
Workshop Magazine recently caught up with Sam Robinson, the firm’s product and brand manager for the UK, who expanded on some of the benefits of working with the company.
‘We feel workshops are overlooking wiper blade opportunities at the moment,’ he told us. ‘And that’s because of a massive change in the market, maybe 15 or 16 years ago.
‘Back then, with 15 part numbers, you could cover pretty much every car that came into your workshop. Measure the length of the blade on the car, grab the same length off the shelf and fit it to the car. Life was nice and straightforward. Then we got the advent of the beam blade, which was completely new technology. With that came different connection types, and all of a sudden you ended up in a completely different situation.
‘Instead of 15 part numbers, which would do 99 per cent of cars that came in, you needed to stock 60, 70, maybe even 80 part numbers. And that became impossible for your average garage. A lot of confidence was lost. And the sort of reaction we get when we’re discussing wiper blade opportunities with people is that it’s just too much hassle.
‘But there’s a real opportunity there for garages to start offering that service again – and they can make money while they’re doing it. Another factor is the demise of the DIY man doing everything at home on his drive – people aren’t as keen to undertake car maintenance work any more and that even extends to replacing wiper blades.’
Robinson explained there were many reasons why garages should start stocking and fitting Trico products to help boost their bottom line.
‘We recognise it can look complicated,’ he said. ‘We try to find ways to not make it look complicated. For instance, we’ve got multi-clip ranges that again take it back to the idea that you stock 15 part numbers and you’ve pretty much got coverage of everything. That’s one of the things we’re saying to garages – that, actually, if you’ve got that one little bit of 80cm-wide space on your wall, you can use that space to install a Trico rack and all of a sudden you’ve got another profit opportunity.
‘We know that some garages don’t like a multi-clip option, so we also offer our Exact Fit programme. That’s a direct-fit blade that comes straight out of the package and on to the car – with more part numbers it’s trickier for a garage to stock, but with factors often delivering three or four times a day now, the right blades can be ordered in for a specific job, often as part of the service pack. Whichever way works best for the individual workshop, there’s a real opportunity that people can offer but that they’re not exploring or maximising at the moment.’
One key advantage of working with Trico is that the parts it supplies are all of the highest quality.
‘That’s true,’ said Robinson. ‘We supply car makers such as Peugeot, Citroen, Land Rover, Maserati – and there’s a reason why manufacturers like that trust us. Naturally, there might be a price difference between us and other products. But we can point people back to the fact they are buying from a genuine original equipment developer and manufacturer.’
And there’s a reason why Trico has had such an impressive level of staying power since its origins in 1917.
‘You name any car produced in the heyday of British car manufacturing and you can bet your bottom dollar that Trico blades were on it,’ said Robinson.
The team at Trico, most of whom work at the company’s European distribution hub in Pontypool, south Wales, don’t necessarily deal directly with workshops, but with an extensive network of distributors and motor factors operating hand in hand with the company, it’s easy to become a Trico stockist.
Robinson said: ‘Give us a call, we’ll talk through what you need, talk through any issues and point you in the right direction towards someone who can help you out.
‘We’re looking to get people back behind the Trico name. It’s almost a question of telling people “Look, we’ve not gone anywhere. We’re still here and we’re keen to work with you.”’
Part of the reason why Trico might not have had a particularly high profile in recent years is that it spent a while under the ownership of a private equity company. Now, however, it is part of the Crowne automotive group, and Robinson says things are looking a lot brighter. ‘From being under private equity ownership, we’re now with the group who are in it for the long term and we’re seeing some investment.’
In fact, said Robinson, there have been big changes to Trico’s product range over the past 18 months.
He added: ‘We obviously specialise in windscreen wiper blades, but at OE and OES level we’re a full system supplier providing the motors, linkages and more. At an aftermarket level, it’s interesting actually. We’re just about to launch a full range of washer pumps and we’re also looking at opening up the other products that we do for OE and OES to the aftermarket. That’s all going on as well behind the scenes.’
It all adds up to a very positive picture for Trico and its business partners – and as well as helping your customers see clearly, the company will be able to see you on the way to increased profit opportunities with minimal hassle and maximum returns.
New Website On Stream
Part of the work Trico is carrying out to raise its profile involves the launch of a new website that will be coming on stream this autumn – probably about the time this copy of Workshop arrived at your business!
So check out the URL on the previous page and you’ll be able to find out all about the stockists that are most convenient for you and the company’s product range.
The launch of the new site is all part of the marketing activity that is being organised by the management at the UK arm of the company.
This also involves Trico representatives travelling to trade fairs and other events being held around the UK over the coming weeks and months.
Product and brand manager Sam Robinson has been with Trico since January last year.
‘My job is to continue developing and growing our product range to make sure our aftermarket programme follows OE developments and keeps offering Trico retailers maximum opportunities. It’s surprising how busy that keeps me!’ he told us.