The Best Software is KEY to success

Posted on 20th February 2024

The Best Software is Key to Success for an Auto Locksmith Business

Where do you go when you’re experiencing “key access issues?” (Also known as “locking yourself out of your own car.”) Chances are, you’ll turn to We’ve Got The Key, an expert Auto Locksmith that’s grown from a regional company into a national player.

Following their acquisition by Handl Group, the company now has its eye on further growth, powered by the smarter use of software.

See the article in Issue 390 of Professional Recovery Magazine on pages 18-25

Early days

Change Management Executive Lucy Coubrough joined We’ve Got The Key in May 2023.

One of her first jobs was to explore how Apex RMS software could deliver everything the company needed to improve their long-winded internal processes. Booking a job began with the sales team, who manually collected and logged information before passing it to the logistics team for manual route planning.

This team would then manually instruct an Auto Locksmith about the job, with a final manual report once the job was finished.

It was a process that needed streamlining - and automating - if the business wanted to expand.

Engaging with Apex RMS

We’ve Got The Key already worked with a number of national recovery and insurance companies, supporting breakdown customers who had key cover. And this relationship led to a recommendation for Apex Recovery Management Software (Apex RMS).

They suggested that Apex software would allow for better communication and resource allocation,” Lucy says. “They made the introduction, and that began our journey.”

Since summer 2023, We’ve Got The Key have worked alongside Apex’s Mark Madgwick to learn about and gradually implement their software.

It’s broadened our offering and enabled us to connect with recovery companies we wouldn’t have thought about before,” continues Lucy. “Not only has it provided us with a platform to be able to receive more work, engagement and communication with our Auto Locksmiths and contractors has improved too.”

Job allocation and route planning

We’ve Got The Key began using Apex RMS by streamlining job allocation and communication. Before long, they could send jobs via ANS directly to Auto Locksmiths’ PDAs, removing the need for manual emails and texts.

Auto Locksmiths could now review jobs before they accepted them, ensuring they were 100% prepared to do the job.

We can also send updated information on a job,” Lucy explains. “Previously the logistics team would have to phone to brief them about changes. Now updates go directly to their PDA and everyone is better supported.”

We’ve Got The Key now also uses Apex’s PinPoint to accurately locate customers and ResQtrac for customers to track the Auto Locksmith's journey. This means more accurate locations for Auto Locksmiths and “a second layer of reassurance” to customers who receive real-time updates.

Recovery accuracy

Whether handling tyres, windscreens or keys, the recovery business has to deal with a huge variety of stock. This can lead to errors like Auto Locksmiths arriving at a job with the wrong key or equipment.

Every vehicle is unique,” says Lucy. “You may have two vehicles from the same year, but there's a slight difference in the manufacturing that we must identify.”

We’ve Got The Key team has to carefully analyse each job and filter the influx of information that they receive from customers. “Having all of that within Apex means that it’s clear for our Auto Locksmiths,” Lucy explains. “It also allows us to quickly identify issues and collect accurate information for an even better service.

Positive customer relations

Being stranded with your vehicle is a stressful situation, one that relies on expert customer care.

Using Apex RMS has enabled We’ve Got The Key to give excellent customer service and build better relationships at every stage.

Customers don’t know that an Auto Locksmith is a thing before they need one,” says Lucy. “Having a smooth and efficient process and being able to deliver for the customer makes our lives a lot easier, but also makes the transaction for the customer a lot smoother too. In addition, positive feedback and customer satisfaction feels really good for everyone here.”

Damage allegation security

Apex RMS helps everyone record accurate and detailed information about a job, using digital vehicle condition reports and photographs which are uploaded directly and stored for later use - and shared with customers after a digital sign-off.

This is key to resolving any complaints or disagreements between customers and Auto Locksmiths. Management can confirm the facts of a disagreement by accessing reports, readings and images of all completed work.

Lucy believes that the expectation that Auto Locksmiths take full reporting accountability during a job means they feel more protected in their work. “It's also provided that kind of all-around customer care and service that we want to give our customers,” she adds. “Which means there are fewer complaints and issues are quickly resolved.”

Workforce accountability and support

Change can be hard, but We’ve Got The Key’s employees have responded positively to the introduction of Apex RMS.

Because a full history is taken of every job, Apex RMS provides a sense of responsibility and accountability. It’s helped management identify areas for improvement in both general training and individual support.

It allows us to focus on training and upskilling and to support our colleagues in areas that their skills may not be so strong,” Lucy explains, “which is beneficial in the root-cause analysis of our process as well.

Apex has also instigated a culture shift, allowing for both greater responsibility, and greater pride in colleagues and the work that they do.

We know when they're making decisions that are beneficial to the business,” says Lucy, “it’s on record so that their work doesn't go unnoticed.

Control room training

Logistics is key to any recovery process, with jobs to be issued and reports to be logged by staff in multiple locations on various shifts. Keeping all this clear is crucial to meeting expectations.

Mark from Apex is currently training up the We’ve Got The Key logistics team, with all employees in the company set to receive training to fully align every process. For the company to grow, employees must feel supported and able to do the job, and management must act if there are any areas where skills are lacking across every department from customer service to finance.

The biggest thing for us,” says Lucy, “is ensuring that we’ve got a network of team leaders and supervisors that are able to give support, and that we are all funnelling for the same objective.

Hybrid reporting that allows choice

We’ve Got The Key may never use all of Apex RMS’s functions. But that doesn’t matter, because it works very well within a hybrid system.

We can work along with or outside of Apex,” says Lucy. “There aren’t many systems that you can do both with.

For example, We’ve Got The Key are sticking with their existing stock management system - at least for now - although Apex does have a stock management system in the pipeline.

Lucy states that although they might never turn over entirely to Apex, they’re delighted with the way it works with their existing systems.

Even though we've got customers that aren't a direct user of Apex, we are able to provide that better kind of metrics and reporting that gives them that better service as a result,

The metrics that we get as a result of Apex are more accurate than those that were able to pull from our own system,” states Lucy. “It’s been really beneficial. Using accurate modelling, it's really nice to be able to provide that recognition to employees.”

Building for the future

We’ve Got The Key is the UK’s biggest Auto Locksmith, but with many thousands of sole traders and small firms competing for business, it has a relatively small share of the market. This, however, could be set to change.

Not only have they taken on Apex RMS, they’ve launched their own Auto Locksmith training school, have plans for expansion and are attracting skilled, formerly self-employed locksmiths.

When we go out to recovery trade shows, I can tell people that as a specialised company we're able to provide support where individual recovery agents aren't. Plus, we can do this for a price that means that they still get a profit. They just send us the work, and we take out the hassle. Apex gives us the platform to increase our market share, and as a bigger business, we're more reliable too.”

Working with Apex opens doors

Lucy believes that connecting to Apex RMS has enabled access to more customers.

Mark has been absolutely incredible with introducing us to people and building a network of people that I never thought we would even be close to. Once people hear that you're on Apex, ears prick up and the work becomes a lot more fluid.”

We’ve Got The Key has been able to connect with recovery agents that they wouldn't necessarily have even thought of working with – and with effective systems, there is the capacity for growth.

We're able to streamline our processes and make them more efficient,” says Lucy. “Less admin is required and we are able to take on more work.” 

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