Founded 31 years ago by Graeme Smith, GRS Fleet Graphics has evolved into a leading supplier of Fleet Graphics and Branding solutions to many of the UK’s medium to large fleet operators.
Essential Fleet Manager caught up with Graeme who explains how GRS Fleet Graphics has constantly, over three decades, recognised the changing needs of fleet operators and has risen to meeting those challenges.
As you developed the business through each stage, what levels of service did you feel were missing from the market when you started?
Back in the early nineties vehicles had to be taken to the sign or branding company, because very few companies visited customer sites. This caused huge amounts of unnecessary disruption to fleet operations and as a priority, we developed an on-site, fully coordinated supply chain managed service.
Thirty years on, this is still a unique positioning on the market, saving thousands of hours for our clients. We also felt that local shops where not necessarily able to provide the top-notch quality required for large international brands.
What steps did you take to ensure that GRS Fleet Graphics offered those services?
From the outset, we have always ensured that we work very closely with our customers’ fleet acquisition managers and fleet teams. We liaise directly with their chosen manufacturers, dealers and PDI Centres to coordinate our application within the whole process, before delivery of the completed assets to the end user. This ensures they are fully operational on arrival. We focus all operations on quality of delivery, from production to fitting. Our reputation is as good as our last job and all our fitters know it. Our people are like a family and as such, they make sure to deliver at the best level possible.
How has the market developed over the last few years and how have customer expectations changed?
The van market especially has seen huge growth, not only through home delivery but also with construction and other infrastructure projects. For example, we are seeing huge growth with Fibre Optic Broad Band Providers expanding through the country.
With the ongoing issue of semiconductor shortages effecting Vehicle Supply, we are having to work even more closely with vehicle suppliers to ensure there are no further delays to project completions, due to brand application within our service part of the PDI. Thus, as time goes, we have to be more flexible and aware of the evolution of the supply-chain.
Coming right up-to-date, how is GRS Fleet Graphics organised across the UK and what is the full range of services that you offer? How do customers benefit from this way of operating?
Design and Manufacturing is in Southampton supporting our network of employed field-based Vehicle Branding Applicators and Wrappers. Our Services include, but are not limited to, pre-spaced, pre-cut, self-adhesive single colour vinyl lettering for the more traditional application, all the way through to full colour photographic print-cut technology to keep up with the very latest in design trends. Our Vehicle Wrapping covers both digitally printed and bespoke colour change for Corporate Brand Identity. We can therefore work with all fleet operators including those most sensitive to long established brand identity.
Each of our applicators work a two-hour territory from their home address giving a local service “Nationwide”, as they are not spending hours getting to and from site, they arrive fresh and focused on the job in hand. With each territory overlapping, we are able to operate seamlessly on a National Service Delivery without any additional travel charges. This way, all customer costs are dedicated wholly to the highest levels of service delivery, quality and support and nothing else!
The level of advice and guidance needed by customers will vary, but which would be the main points to consider for a customer wishing to rebrand an existing fleet or apply graphics to new vehicles when their fleet management experience is limited?
When looking to rebrand, firstly look at the age of your fleet. If any vehicles are due to change in the next 6 months, consider just removing the branding from those so as not to have a mixed message or wasting money. It should also be considered if the vehicles are field based and kept overnight at drivers’ homes, or do they return to a central hub? If they are returned to a depot, what facilities are available on site and if they are to be wrapped, is there any enclosed space to suit the size of vehicles? It is vital to decide if there is a requirement for vehicle hire, to cover any downtime. Then, once the brand concept has been agreed, we will work in consultation to ensure this works with all vehicle types on fleet.
What is the consultation process for a customer before work commences?
- Stock Colour or Bespoke
- Vehicle Types and Brand Design Compatibility
- Best Material for type of application and longevity.
- Fleet Life of Vehicle
- Project Delivery Date
All the above ensure that the customer investment is protected, along with brand/corporate Identity.
How do you manage customer communication and quality control through the application stage?
We appoint a dedicated Operational & Project Support Manager to oversee every stage of the process. The use of workflow management and enhanced proof of delivery software ensures that the highest standards are met and in the most efficient timescale possible. From enquiry and all the way through application the same software is used, meaning that all parties have access to all aspects of the project at all stages. Towards the end of the process and before leaving the customer site, our Application Teams take pictures of completed vehicles and additionally gain an onsite custodian signature to acknowledge satisfactory completion before the job can be closed. Before seeking a signature, each applicator completes a walkaround before applying a quality checked label, including taking photographs of the finished job.
How do you support customers after completion of the project?
All our applications have an “On Fleet Guarantee” which covers against shrinkage, fading peeling etc. We offer a full aftercare service for accident damaged vehicles where we coordinate with the client’s repair facility to ensure consistency and to save cost. It is worth stressing that work under the guarantee will, where possible, be carried out at customer sites avoiding unnecessary disruption and downtime.
From your experience with some of the large, very well known major brand fleets, have there been any particularly challenging or unusual projects?
Our biggest challenge to date has to be The Cadbury’s CadVent Project, where we had to brand twenty four vehicles including their roofs to form an aerial view of an advent calendar. On the day of the press launch due to high winds, the helicopter that was due to take up the press and film the assembly was grounded so we saved the day, taking a photographer up in our high access platform to photograph the launch of the campaign! A great example of going “above and beyond” expectations!
We are also proud of our long association with Hertz Event, branding a temporary fleet of some 170 cars and people carriers used for the Wimbledon Championships. Brand application, to the strictest standards, is carried out in a very short time-frame and post event removal, again within a very short space of time, is carried out with the vehicles going back into dealer stock entirely unblemished.
How would you summarise the most important customer benefits of the best vehicle graphics and branding?
Brand Recognition and the promotion of Corporate Identity, Products and Services.
What’s in the future for GRS?
GRS has recently partnered with Tosca Capital to boost our growth. We have a unique concept and a specific way to serve our clients, based on trust and quality of delivery. And so we want to expand on these key values to more customers with more business development and investment in our delivery capacity.
In the future as in the past, our customers brands will be our reputation.
Find out why you should trust us to brand your fleet, visit www.grsfleetgraphics.co.uk.
As featured in Issue 3 of Essential Fleet Manager Magazine – visit the archive