Solving Software Needs for Recovery and Beyond

Posted on 4th December 2023

Read this interview with our customer Fastrack Tyres in Garage Magazine here 

A widening range of businesses that support vehicle users have discovered that Apex Recovery Management Software is exactly what they need for growth and success.

A business is born

Fastrack Tyres began in London back in 2012, when Zak Haji and his co-directors spotted a gap in the market regarding tyre punctures – a problem they recognised was a huge  frustration to drivers of new models. “A lot of cars were getting manufactured with no spare tyre,” Zak recalls. “Not being able to get a new tyre sorted quickly for people was an issue, and we saw that the market had the potential.” Starting with one van, Fastrack quickly grew the business, moved to larger premises and soon ran twelve vehicles. Plans to launch Fastrack in other major cities were necessarily delayed during Covid; now, however, they are poised to expand.

An expanding market

Of course, a recovery business needs to do more than be in the right place at the right time. Forging successful relationships is key, and so is streamlined and accurate communication between customers and the control centre. When Fastrack started, they worked only directly with the public. “We had a website and advertised on Google and Yellow Pages,” Zak explains, “but in 2014 we obtained a contract with one of the nation’s largest breakdown companies, which really helped us grow.” It also introduced Fastrack to greater geographical coverage, which included locations as varied as Birmingham, Leicester, Cambridge and Dover. Although two years later the AA decided to operate that sector of business themselves, the experience had been eye-opening and Fastrack felt ready to secure its own clients. Today their niche is geared towards the Super-Car market and high-end clients, including sports stars, popstars and royalty - but their specialised service is available to anyone.

All systems change!

How can a growing business ensure its systems can cope? As an emergency service, Fastrack didn’t sell or fit tyres at their premises by appointment. Their role was to assist people literally stranded, either at home or on the side of the road, who had found their number and phoned in. “When we started, there wasn't much competition,” says Zak. “As one of the first, in London we were always at the top of a search. A customer would tell us their location and ask if we had the right tyre. We’d say no problem – and these are the details we need.” A technician would then take 60 to 90 minutes to change the customer's tyre and make sure they're happy. Fastrack would get a positive review, and move on to the next client.

However, with growth came the difficulty of maintaining records, as well as locating the right tyre. On top of managing tyre stock, one of Fastrack’s biggest challenges was recruitment and staff. They did find a tyre software system, which at first offered a good solution. However, it wasn’t enough to connect them to the major recovery ‘clubs’ and they began the search for software that could do more.

Investigating possibilities

Connection to the major motor assistance services, such as the AA, RAC and Green Flag, was vital because they all use the Apex RMS network. Fastrack made the big decision to join it, too. “Although it’s marketed as recovery software, for us Apex RMS was something that we actually needed. It’s worked wonders because now we are connected to the clubs.”

Soon, however, Fastrack realised that for greater growth they needed to use the system to its full capacity. Technicians started from base and a job would have to be emailed out to them. Everything was still done on paper. Like many businesses, Fastrack was reluctant to take on all the Apex RMS functions in one go. Although they had a fleet of vehicles, they hadn’t investigated the functions available in Fleet Management. “The system's amazing,” says Zak, “but I think because it's such a smart system, and it's so clever with broad capabilities, that we were a bit reluctant to just explore the whole thing at the time.” However, they knew that it was time to spend time investigating how the rest of Apex RMS could support their business needs. And Apex were on hand to help.

A step at a time reaps rewards

On-site training ensued and helpful elements of Apex RMS were taken onboard. Fastrack are now paperless for tyres, and communication is streamlined and more accurate. Apex manages stock, and technicians are using their PDA on the side of the road. “There is so much to this system, it’s unreal,” says Zak. “It’s working really well for us.” 

For Fastrack, the greatest benefit of Apex is that, as recovery software, it connects to everything. Zak also praises its ability to keep management informed: “From when the technician leaves the depot, whilst they are enroute and right up to when they have completed a job, we have all the information we need.” Better connection has also helped accelerate growth. “Now we can ping all the job information down a PDA, and it’s a lot better,” he says. “The biggest regret I have, is why didn't I do it sooner?”

Fleet and stock management benefits

These days Fleet management is in daily use, and Fastrack finds it invaluable. “It has definitely removed some of the obstacles of organisation,” Zak enthuses. “The software tells us when our services are due, plus any detail we need about the vehicles. We can send rotas and messages to our technicians, and message a customer to ensure we have an accurate location.” This latter point is vital, as customers are not always aware of how to share or show their location, and might not have a smartphone.” Having employees on the portal also means that from start to finish, a job is on one system. “All the information in one place is easier for us to manage,” Zak says. “I’d definitely advise people to explore everything it can do as soon as possible.” By necessity, Fastrack must also keep in stock the exact tyre specification for any job. Using Fleet management, this process is now fully automated, which has saved time and reduced the hassle of manually checking each separate job done and then creating an order.

Instant day to day management and HR

Apex RMS is not only used for jobs, it also supports Fastrack’s general business management, including accurate recording of rotas and holidays. Because it is flexible, Fastrack could also customise some of the areas specifically for their needs - for example, the forms they use for fitting tyres. In addition, Zak is impressed with the automatic and detailed report he receives every day. This tells him how many jobs were done and what the outcome codes were. “With everything in one place, I know if there are any issues,” he says. “With the old system, I’d have to go into each job to check how things went. With Apex, I literally tick the boxes I want and get emailed a report.” At a glance, Zak can also quickly assess which technician has done what work and what the outcome was without going into each job manually. Although the system looked hard to manage at first, now he uses it with ease: “Once you get into it, it’s so simple. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Staff Feedback

When Fastrack changed to Apex RMS, they recognised that it was a big change for everyone. They also believed that as the technicians were the ones on the road, they might be aware of some issues that management had missed. Thoughtfully, they made the decision to set up a group chat where their technicians could ask for help and also give feedback. “We invited them to highlight if there was anything that would make their lives easier, or that we might have missed, that we could implement to make the experience for the customer or company better,” Zak explains. It was a successful process, which helped things moving forwards. A few items were raised, which Fastrack management adapted there and then. “Now,” Zak says, “everyone's got thumbs up for the system.” 

From paper to PDA

A recurring business benefit of Apex RMS is the removal of problems that develop from manual recording. And Fastrack was no different. “Going from paper to PDA is much better for us,” says Zak. “With some technicians, there was an issue with illegible writing. We would get a job sheet back from the fleet company saying ‘what’s this – we can’t read it.’ And when we asked the technician, sometimes they couldn’t read it either.” Fastrack management is also certain that being paperless presents the company with a better image, displaying reassurance that they are at the top of their industry. Another PDA benefit is in identifying customer location. Customers cannot always accurately give their precise location. “Now, at the touch of a button, our controllers can zoom into the map and see exactly where a vehicle has broken down,” Zak explains. “That has made our lives much easier.”

Apex training and support

Fastrack undertook thorough research and investigated other systems before choosing Apex. “But the way the Apex works, there's just honestly, genuinely, there's no comparison,” says Zak, “and it’s also very competitively priced.”

Fastrack ran two systems for some time before turning over to Apex. “The new system just scared me at the time” admits Zak. “I had to learn the hard way, but this also meant I could compare the two. I absolutely would not change it now.” And has switching to Apex RMS also saved management time? “A huge amount of time,” says Zak. “It’s made things easier in so many different areas. The only complaint I have is with myself: why didn't I start using this sooner?”

Taking on new software is a huge commitment. It must fit your needs – but you must also know how to use it. “Apex training days are very beneficial,” Zak says, “but I knew that at some point, I had to do it myself.” Now he uses the systems all the time, but he still values the ongoing relationship that Fastrack have with Apex Systems. “The support is just great; if you’ve ever got an issue, it’s literally just a phone call and it's fixed.”

A single customised and integrated system

Apex RMS fits quickly with most businesses’ systems. On occasion, customisation is required. Working with Fastrack, Apex’s skilled engineers were able to tweak their software to enable Fastrack to be fully integrated and to access all the benefits. Indeed, today Fastrack use Apex software exclusively. “Before we were chopping and changing through different systems, as well as using Apex RMS,” Zak recalls. “We used a different system for accounts, too - but that’s so much easier now, and the staff in accounts love it.” When pressed, Zak might add a couple of minor changes would make Apex RMS 100% ideal for a tyre company. But he believes that it works very well for every kind of job they do, whether a specific tyre for a high-end car or simply to put air into someone’s tyres. “The guys at Apex went above and beyond,” he says firmly. “Any job, any time, any breakdown – I'd say it covers everything.”

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