Welcome to the second of our monthly blogs: This month, Mike Slater, Repair Network Manager talks about how he got into the automotive and insurance world and the strength of our Approved Repairer Network.

14 September 2022

More years ago than I like to admit, I left high school and took a job as a Panel Beaters Apprentice at a Ford RS dealership in Salford. This was in the days of the ‘Youth Training Scheme,’ and I earned the princely sum of £26.30 per week (and thought I was rich!) It was an amazing place to work and to this day I’ve stayed connected with the friends I worked with. Training in all aspects of accident repair at that early age and working on Capri 2.8i’s RS Turbo’s RS Cosworth’s and the like, was a great starting point! ...

After completing a four-year apprenticeship, I spent the next few years working at various dealer-backed and independent repairers, eventually starting to make inroads off the shop floor and into Estimating and Management.

Around the year 2000, while still ‘on the tools’ at Robins & Day Peugeot, an opportunity came up for a technical support role at the AA - this was my first role outside the workshop and was a step into the unknown. A few years later, and quite by chance, I was offered a job as an Engineer. After this I went into management roles, in and out of the repair world mostly around damage assessment and engineering. This culminated in an engineering role at Nationwide Accident Repair Services.

Having spent nine years as a Network Manager at Nationwide, I was offered a similar role at Kindertons five years ago. It does come with a lot of hard work and challenges, but the upside absolutely outweighs this - I get to work with some amazing and committed people and building our Approved Repairer Partners Network and developing relationships with the repairers has been a labour of love. The network has grown from 50 to over 220 in-line with our business growth and ever-changing customer needs, which is no-mean feat given what we have been and are still going through during and post-pandemic.

Recently we embarked on a Fast Track Project with the support of our Approved Repairer Partners, to encourage a quicker turnaround on getting vehicles booked in to the bodyshops. It’s been a remarkable success and we hope will continue to increase the number of cases month-on-month as we move towards our busiest time of year.

The post-pandemic world has really shifted the needle on areas of priority and focus. Semi-Conductor and parts supply chain issues are still ongoing, which is well documented as is the ageing work force in the repair sector and lack of young people coming through. There are without doubt some tough times ahead but possibly the most amazing thing I’ve seen to come out of all of this - across Kindertons and our Approved Repairer Partners Network - is the enthusiasm, drive, and commitment to make positive changes and find solutions rather than focussing on the problems. What has been the secret sauce for all of this? Not something scientific or ground-breaking, quite simply good old-fashioned communication... and as for challenges, they are just opportunities to impress!