December 17, 2019 | Issue 5
A chat with Solus Accident Repair Group
Solus Accident Repair Group are one of the UK’s premier accident repair groups and a business committed to putting sustainability at the heart of everything they do. We dropped by to chat with Health and Safety Environment lead Simon Kirwin about why being environmentally sound is so important to the business.
Q: Tell us about the business and what you do?
A: For over 20 years, Solus has been an accident repair group and bodyshop, dealing specifically with insurance repairs. The Group operates across a network of 17 centres, from the furthest north in Cumbernauld to our most southerly centre in Bournemouth. Our business strapline is ‘Getting you back to normal’ and that’s what we always try to achieve with our customers and their cars.
Q: That’s an intriguing strapline, what does it mean for you and your customers?
A: It’s pretty much as it sounds. Whether it is through our collection and delivery service, the post-repair valet service or accommodating a customer’s schedule, we want to get customers back to their normal life as effortlessly as possible. We pride ourselves on our customer service and in the past two years, we have won national customer service awards. It’s at the heart of what we do, alongside our commitment to sustainability.
Q: Tell us about how the business is being sustainable?
A: We have a range of business practices designed to minimise our environmental impact. For instance, we try to repair every bumper that comes in and we never throw any away.
As a result, we’ve recycled 25,003 bumpers so far this year. The business is also taking a similar view with plastics used in repairs. Lighting is a good example, as the plastics used in headlights are not recyclable, so to avoid unnecessary wastage we look to repair every light where possible.
Q: Does being more sustainable come at extra cost to the business?
A: Yes, in the sense we have invested in certain machinery, kit and working practices that allows us to be more sustainable. However, the pay-off comes in the environmental benefits and the energy costs savings we have made. We recently spent a five-figure investment on ‘Moonwalk’ equipment, which mixes the paint for us and helps to save 0.1 of a litre on every job. When you consider we complete over 33,000 jobs a year, it’s a substantial saving. We are also trialing new energy efficient paint guns and are using a new plastic repair tool that’s really paying its way with plastics repairs.
Q: What else are you doing?
A: We are implementing a zero-tolerance policy on single use plastics across all 17 sites, on everything from paint pots to plastic cups. There is also a full-scale environmental audit currently taking place across the business and plans to install solar panels at our new Bolton site, when it opens in April. It’s an integral part of our business ethos to be as sustainable as possible and all the measures we are taking are designed to achieve that.
Q: Describe your relationship with TPS?
A: As part of our wider system it is crucial that we work together with TPS. 20% of the repairs we carry out at Solus are vehicles from the Volkswagen Group.
As one of the largest accident repair centre groups in the country this means we have a large number of mutual customers. We cannot create a seamless journey alone and therefore we have recognized the importance of this kind of collaborative working with business partners from our wider system.
Q: How do TPS help you as a business?
A: It’s quite simple. Without parts we cannot repair our customers cars and so this means that TPS are crucial in helping us achieve our purpose of helping our customers get their lives back to normal.
As the experts in supply of parts, TPS are always available to assist us with technical knowledge that may not be instantly available to us.
Q: What’s the future vision for Solus Accident Repair Group?
A: For the next 12 months, we will continue to expand the business, with two further sites planned alongside the new Bolton site. Our customer service and business sustainability are core aspects of the business and we will continue to push the boundaries to deliver on these key areas.
Q: What’s your favourite Volkswagen Group vehicle?
A: It has to be the Buzz (I.D. BUZZ), the new electric powered camper van. I really believe in electric vehicles (EVs) and the Buzz is a great example of the incredible EVs on offer.