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Belfast - Service under pressure

01/11/2018 | General

Pirtek Belfast is a centre that takes great pride in itself and the service it delivers. Though it has recently refitted its premises, the pristine paintwork and organised demeanour are nothing new or out of the ordinary.

Providing a comfortable and efficient working environment for all staff is central to Pirtek Belfast’s ethos and its management firmly believes that this filters through to delivering excellent customer service.

The centre

The centre is remarkable in its cleanliness and is meticulously laid out. “Both the franchisee David Adams and Centre Manager Alan Craig have excellent technical knowledge and they know the best way to lay out the store and the workshop,” says Cathy Doyle, Sales Manager at Pirtek Belfast. “Anyone who works here can pick stock quickly and easily.”

This is also true of the vans. “I could step in and find parts and fittings on any of the Belfast vans,” she says. “This means that when you’re on the job, time is not wasted searching for the correct hose or fittings as everything is where it should be.

“This all helps with our promise of a fast response and first-time fix,” explains Cathy. “There’s no point getting there within the hour if you don’t have the fittings you need and our customers know that if we are taking pride in our work, they’re going to get a quality service.” Though the workshop has recently been refitted, its remarkable state of good order is no flash in the pan. “Visitors will always find our centre clean and organised to this standard,” Cathy says. “The refit was not completed due to the need to redecorate; it was a practical move. As we have grown from a three to a seven van centre, we simply needed more room and have doubled our office space and created a larger kitchen area.”

Cathy continues, “Before it was just one narrow office and our kitchen consisted of one cupboard and a sink. It was spotless, but we needed the extra space for downtime, somewhere the MSSTs could sit and have a coffee between jobs.”

Increased stock holding

Not only is the organisation of stock considered important, but also the range of items held at the centre. Cathy says, “Stock is an area in which we’ve invested heavily in the last year or so because we recognised that we needed to carry more large bore hose and fittings to ensure we were able to carry out more first time fixes. We’ve also invested in CAT presses, enabling us to better service our customers’ full range of equipment.”

Pirtek Belfast has an additional storage facility in Omagh, County Tyrone. “This means that if any of our technicians are completing a job where they happen not to have the items on their van, they have two locations to pick from, again reducing downtime for our customers.”

Recognition of excellence

Those at the centre are rightly proud of its achievements and this has been recognised by Pirtek UK. “Not only were we the first centre in the network to achieve the Centre of Excellence award, we also recently collected an award for Customer Service at the Pirtek 30 year anniversary conference,” says Cathy.

A major contributing factor to attaining these awards was Pirtek Belfast’s belief that communication is key to providing great customer service. “One of the ways we improved communication with  customers was the introduction of a text service. More than six years ago we introduced a system whereby we would send our customers manual texts,” says Cathy. “We would text customers ETAs and any other updates. As we moved up to seven vans we realised that this would no longer work as effectively.

“So when we changed our tracker system we invested a little extra to have some software written that would automatically text our customers. “When we receive a breakdown job, the customer will ring the depot and let us know their problem; we will take all the information; book the job not only on the t-card system but on the tracker as well.

“When this information is input to our tracker, it shows us the closest technician and we can then assign the job to them,” Cathy says. “Once assigned, the customer will receive a text to thank them for choosing Pirtek and advise them that the job has been confirmed. The tracker will then send a further text when the technician is 15 minutes away, confirming the time of arrival.

“We believe that if you supply your customer with accurate information they can always work around it if things don’t go to plan.

“We would rather be open with a customer,” Cathy says. “They know us and they know that when they ring in a job, it’s in hand and they don’t have to chase it up. They trust us to advise when we will be there and let them know if anything changes – for example if a previous job runs over.

“When the job comes back, it is checked by a manager and then emailed to the customer along with site photos so they have a complete picture of what the job entailed, all within 24 hours of completion.

Dedicated Pirtek people

The ethos at Pirtek Belfast is instilled from the top. David Adams has built a team of loyal staff who are dedicated to their roles and passionate about providing customers with a great service on every job.

Speaking of her own experience Cathy says, “I’ve been here for 11 years. I started off in accounts part time and as my son got older, I took on more hours. I’ve been full time for six years now and progressed from part time accounts to Sales Manager.

“We’ve also had a few boomerangs over the years. Alan Craig, our Centre Manager, is a good example of this. He was an MSST for around four years but wanted to try something new. Fast forward a few years and Alan was back, initially returning as an MSST but soon promoted to Centre Manager.”

Planned maintenance.

The Belfast centre ensures that it does not solely rely on breakdown work but also seeks out preventative maintenance contracts. “We currently service local government contracts, which is basically a lot of gritters, gulley suckers, snow ploughs, hedge cutters, all those types of things,” Cathy says.

“We provide preventative maintenance inspections for customers so in the winter we would be completing preventative work on their summer equipment – hedge cutters, mowers, etc. And then in the summer we would be maintaining their gritters, snowploughs and the like, making sure they’re ready for the coming season. That way they can reduce breakdowns and I believe we have proven the value of that to them.”

Preventative maintenance is at its best when it goes unnoticed. “Most people will never see the work that goes on in the background to keep these vehicles on the road but it’s definitely beneficial to do the preventative work.”

Everything at Pirtek Belfast comes back to customer service and saving the client time and money, says Cathy. “We have really focused on our core business for the last few years – on-site hose replacement – and making sure we do that to the highest standard.”

The way the centre and its vans are organised, stock keeping, on-the-job communication and planned maintenance all add up to a centre of excellence for customer service. “Customer perception of our service is vitally important to us and we always try to work with what the customer needs without compromising on our service,” Cathy concludes.

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Dublin - Moving on up

Dublin - Moving on up

At the time of writing, Pirtek Dublin is in a state of flux. Having just moved into new, larger premises, it is extending its range of services. Space Pirtek Dublin moved... MORE