The customer-focused approach of Flexiline Forecourt Services has apparently proved such a hit with retailers that the company has grown out of its current base in Nuthampstead, Herts and is planning a move to more prestigious premises in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, in 2005.
Flexiline was set up five years ago by managing director Tom Ellicock (left in picture) and his son-in-law Lee Papper, the technical service director. They hold court together in a small office – like-minded partners driving the business forward with their pledge to give petrol retailers the service they need to keep their forecourts running efficiently. Turnover has gone from nought to £2.5million since the company was formed.
Ellicock has been in the business for 30 years, having worked for most of the pump manufacturing/ maintenance companies you could mention. “We saw an opening in the marketplace to service the independent sector in particular, because in the companies I worked for, priority was being given to oil company-owned sites,” says Ellicock. “A lot of dealers were fed up with the level of service they were getting – they can’t afford to have equipment out of action. If a pump on a small dealer site is out of action for 24 hours, that hits them harder than on a motorway service area. We understand that. From the start we’ve pledged to support our customers with a quality service and back-up – we don’t just sign the contract and that’s it.”
Flexiline currently has 25 engineers covering the UK – and are in the process of employing two more – who are given Ford Galaxy people carriers to drive around in and a plethora of technical equipment to assist in carrying out their jobs.
“They are not white van men/grease monkeys. We give them pride in what they do by giving them the right equipment. We also enforce the ‘customer is king’ ethos into our engineers,” stresses Ellicock. With regular maintenance, many breakdowns can be avoided or minimised; and any work is conducted with a minimum of downtime for the site, he adds.
“We did the job for Roadchef Clackett Lane Services on the M25 when the forecourt shop was converted to Spar. We moved the centre cashier point gondola to three separate till points, and the site was shut for just 10 minutes.”
There’s no doubt the company’s reputation has gathered momentum in the past five years with a growing customer base to prove it. Companies such as Murco, Petrol Express, Malthurst, Fraser Group and Jonathan and Rebecca James use Flexiline, impressed with the speed and professionalism of its service.
Ellicock says the company will do anything and everything on the forecourt. The comprehensive list includes maintenance services and checks, equipment upgrades, tank and pipework installation, site and pump refurbishment through to servicing and installing epos equipment, and consultancy work. The company is committed to helping the smaller operator. It has a field full of old pumps (pictured left), which are scavenged for parts that may mean the difference between keeping an old pump or buying a new one.
“We will be announcing a new service next year,” he says. “It’s onward and upward from here.”