Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday 13th - Be careful out there

It appears, looking at the accident statistics from The AA, that there might just be something in this Friday 13th being "Unlucky".

November has historically been a higher month for the number of road accidents. This is generally attributed to the deteriorating weather and darker mornings on the back of the clock changes; my commute this morning was testimony to that. However added to this is some additional analysis that shows Friday is the worst day for road accidents

The stats show that Fridays account for over 10%, or 3426 more road casualties than any other day. The caveat to that is that the majority of these incidents occur outside the normal "rush hour" times, with the majority of incidents between 2-6pm.

Whilst today adds the combination of the wrong month with the wrong day with the wrong date the real message from the AA's information tells us that we need to be taking more care and making sure we are concentrating on our Friday journeys home and not just being thankful its POETS day. I would like to advocate the same approach for Friday 20th, 27th........

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Car scrappage scheme - Good or bad idea - 6 months on

Back in April I blogged some thoughts about the then impending car scrappage scheme . I was one of the more sceptical commentators at the time and despite the obvious registration success that it has been I still have the same reservations now as I did then.

I shared my concerns around the medium and long term effects of the scheme for the motor industry and the wider economy. I also doubted if it really was that much of an incentive, when so many manufacturers were, and still are, increasing their list prices. However many more motorists than I, or most people genuinely thought, have taken up the scheme.

Demand has unsurprisingly been for the smaller cars, with the Korean manufacturers in particular making some significant additional sales. The scheme has without doubt saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of UK automotive jobs which is obviously welcomed as the sector was a very early casualty as the UK economy started to struggle. The August registration figures would have been a total disaster were it not for the scrappage registrations and September will have undoubtedly been saved by it too.

Lots of motorists have also benefited from the joy of getting a new car, which is a treat most of us never actually get to enjoy, without costing the wider tax payer a bean. Thanks to the Government only contributing £1000 of the £2000 grant any burden that the taxpayer might have had to shoulder has been negated by the VAT revenue from the new car sale

So with all this good news am I just being a bit moody as I hadn't recognised the scrappage scheme would be a success?

No. I am genuinely pleased for the UK motor industry and all who work in it for the time the scrappage has bought their dealerships. It has given many groups the space to get their property portfolios and cash flow back on an even keel. My concerns remain about what the real demand for new cars looks like,particularly once VAT reverts to 17.5% again, but I am now more positive about the dealers robustness as they go into life after the scrappage scheme

For an excellent alternative view on Life after the Scrappage scheme read "Scrappage What Happens Next?" from Motor Trade Insider

MOT Test and Tips on Passing First Time

This month approximately 414,000 cars will be due their first MOT’s as they reach their 3rd birthday.
The MOT test was introduced in 1960 by the Ministry Of Transport (hence the name MOT) and is designed to ensure that the vehicles on our roads are safe and in a roadworthy condition. Earlier this year the decision was taken to keep the annual test as opposed to one every two years, once a car reaches 3 years old. Ironically this may help the motorists as although there is the cost of an annual test (currently the MOT test cost for a car able to carry up to 8 passengers is £54) it does provide an early warning of repairs that may be due via the advisory element of the test results

What is included in the MOT Test? VOSA (Vehicle & Operator Services Agency) have an excellent leaflet that covers all the items tested, details on where Testing can take place and how to make a complaint called “Your car and the MOT”

Common Failures Details from the DFT show that during the period April 2007 – March 2008 some 27 million cars had an MOT test, of which a staggering 35% failed first time. This is an alarming figure when you consider that the test is based on determining the safety and environmental impact of your car.
On closer inspection however it shows that many of the failures are more minor and that actually drivers with some simple thought beforehand could prevent failing.The biggest single failure category was Lights at 19%, then Brakes at 18.2% and tyres at 13.4%. Emissions counted for 5.6% of all failures

Tips for Passing Your MOT Drivers can help themselves with a little bit of preparation and avoid failing on silly items.
Lights – check all lights are working, get a friend to help check that brake lights and indicators are working
Screen wash – ensure your washer bottle is full (an empty bottle is a fail)Wipers – check not split and that clean the screen without marking/impairing visibility. Don’t forget the rear wiper if applicable
Tyres – ensure inflated and check tyre depth across the central three quarters of the tyre is above the 1.6mm minimum level. Also check there is no damage or cuts to the side walls or the valves
Emissions – there is some evidence that some engine treatments and premium fuels help keep an engine cleaner though this requires prolonged usage. Whilst perhaps not in the spirit of the test an engine that is up to operating temperature will have lower emissions
Seat belts – smooth retraction and not frayed/ cut

Advisory Notices and Extended Warranties For cars being tested for the first time there is another consideration. For motorists considering purchasing an extended warranty now that, in the most part, their original warranty has expired, they may wish to do so before having the MOT test. An exclusion of all car warranties is that cover cannot be provided for a known fault. If a driver waits until the MOT has been done and has an advisory notice, by definition that becomes a known fault. In the event of a warranty claim a warranty company is able to view, on line, advisory notices and so would probably reject a claim

Monday, 31 August 2009

September Car Registration Plate Change

Tomorrow sees the new car registration plate 59 come into effect.
With the apparent success of the new car scrappage scheme, according to media reports, this September’s new car registrations won’t be the disaster that might have been forecasted earlier in the year

When did the Current plate change come into effect?
The current bi annual registration plate change was introduced in September 2001. The idea was to remove the registration spike of the traditional August plate change. The system started in with 51 for the September change and 02 for the first March change and moves on one each year. So that September 2003 was 53 and March 2003 was 03 etc.

How is the plate made up?

The first 2 digits represent the DVLA office where the car was registered. The next two numbers relate to the plate change as described and the last three digits are random numbers

Has it worked and which is the best plate to have?

Obviously it has created 2 registration peaks but has spread the rest of the months out a bit more evenly. From a future value perspective there was some evidence that the March plate was proportionately more valuable than the September plate. However the last 12 months of used vehicle pricing fluctuation and current increase have blurred the actual benefit. Naturally it still makes sense not to take your new car in the month preceding the new registration unless the dealer makes it financially worth your while.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Benefits of Using a Main Dealer for Car Servicing

I was very honoured to be asked to comment on the benefits of using a Main dealer for servicing your car by Motor Trader Insider. I have to be fair been a long standing fan of this car buyers guide as is it so much better informed than most other guides, probably as it is written by real people in the motor industry

Anyway they wanted to know if I thought using a main dealer to service your car made sense. In essence my answer is "yes, at least it is whilst the car is in warranty"

1. For new models the dealer has had pre launch training, has all the diagnostic equipment and ready access to the manufacturers technical team
2. They have ongoing training and technical updates
3. As a matter of routine during servicing they'll upload software enhancements and make any component changes, fixes the independent garage won't even hear about let alone carry out
4. There's a better chance of making a successful goodwill claim if something happens shortly after your warranty expires if it has been maintained within the manufacturers network
5. Convenience. if a warranty issue is found on your car during a service by an independent you'll need to book it in with a main agent at a later date.

The article covers lots more including future values and saving money by switching to Independent garages once the warranty period has expired. It's is definitely worth a look

Meanwhile I'm still pleased to have been asked for my tuppence

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

What to do if you breakdown on the Motorway

Yesterday I had a number of long drives. Southampton to Milton Keynes in the morning, and then to Heathrow and back that evening. My trip that saw me changing radio stations a couple of times, a stop for coffee and a stop for some fuel but for 11 other cars their trip was spoilt by breaking down on the motorway

Since the launch of our Breakdown Cover I have become a bit of a breakdown spotter and following yesterdays tally I thought I'd share some advice on what to do in the event of a motorway breakdown

Web Version
Print version

Yesterdays Tally included:
  • BMW 3 Series Y plate
  • Fiat Punto 55 Plate
  • Ford Fiesta 51 plate
  • Ford fiesta x plate
  • Ford Mondeo 02 Plate
  • Mercedes C Class 02 plate
  • Mercedes E Class 54 plate
  • Renault Laguna 52 plate
  • Seat Altea 58 Plate
  • Vauxhall Vectra 51 Plate
  • VW Polo T plate

There was also one dreadful accident and praise goes to the RAC patrolman who happened to be there and was expertly managing the situation

If your breakdown cover has lapsed compare our breakdown cover today.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

#Followfriday 31st July - Newbies

Whilst twitter isn't or perhaps shouldn't be all about numbers there isn't much point in logging on if you don't have any followers to engage and share stuff with.

I invested in the @NikkiPilkington Tweetmentor course which has been invaluable but the real truth is that once you get to c.100 followers a kind of momentum occurs simply by tweeting and engaging with a few people

So this week here are some newbies I've followed. Please join me by following them, after all there are only 3 possible outcomes:
1. they'll give up
2. you'll unfollow them because they're dull
3. you'll have found yourself a new twitterer

@bleeky very new, and hasn't updated his bio yet. I can tell you he's into cricket, is a bit of a geek and is expecting his 2nd child, oh and my wife is his daughters god mother

@exeposs100 having another go and looking for help with his twittering. PR company so wow could be a really useful contact for many of us. I found him on a search "looking for new followers" I think we should oblige

@somewherehot my web designer. Another one whose abandoned twitter. Ironically I know that some of my followers would be good for his business and also that he would be good for some of there's. Oooh let's find out

@RAC_Breakdown How can one of the UK's leading UK Breakdown provider have less than 100 followers? They post some interesting, if so far limited, tweets and is CarCare Directs breakdown provider

@srb2003 new and no idea if they want a whole load of followers or not but followed on the back of my favourite tweeter being excited about their arrival to twitter..which is enough for me

I do hope this is the start of a beautiful....well let's just follow for now and see what happens :)

Cool Bananas

Monday, 27 July 2009

Price Protection

Vauxhall have toady announced another price rise of, on average, 2.2% on all cars ordered from 3rd August 2009.

As with most manufacturers, Vauxhall do offer Price Protection on orders before that date, but what does that actually mean? To understand this we must first review how dealers order cars from the manufacturers

To simplify we'll need to generalise across all car makes but recognise there are some differences.Dealers buy in 1 of 3 ways

1. Stock - they pre order likely vehicles. often they have to commit to certain model mixes in order to secure bonuses from the manufacturer. Also they have to commit to their orders well i advance
2. Pack deals - this is where the manufacturer goes out to their dealers and offers bundles of cars, usually with some nice bonus discounts. the dealer hast o commit to the cars and doesn't get choice on colours etc
3. Factory order - the dealer orders a customer specific vehicle direct with the manufacturer. the dealer will have a limit as to how many they can order in a specific month. This volume is generally agreed in advance either quarterly or annually.

It is factory orders that buyers looking for price protection must be most aware. If a dealer does not have the allocation left to order before the price rise cut off then the car will not qualify for the price protection

So when ordering your car, ask your dealer if they have allocation to order a car then and there and if not when they will be able to and secondly get it in writing that your car will be price protected

Friday, 24 July 2009

Follow Friday - COYR - 24th July

Indulge me today with this weeks #followfriday. For it has been a traumatic time since the end of last seasons disastrous relegation for the mighty Saints, followed by administration , 10 points deducted and any number of chances pretending their mum and dad would lend them enough money to buy Southampton FC.

Wonderfully that is behind us now and as we celebrate all things Swiss ("Swiss Billionaire buys Southampton FC" - what a nice sound that has) i would like to recommend some fellow tweeters who went through the agony too.

Southampton FC has always been a club for the neutral, I'd hope it would continue to be, so show your support and follow:

@the_saints it's actually the Daily Echo, the local paper but they do get to hear what's going on and some of the mad comments left are amusing

@officialsaints clubs official twitter site. Hopefully now he that mustn't be named has left the building they'll take a bigger interest in the fans but good source of info for what is going on

@AlGalpin reliable source of early news during the dark days. Interesting non footy tweets too

@thesaintsblog proper football blogger but all about the red and white

@wireframebox jammy sod won the tickets for Saturdays pre season

No matter what your footy team is I hope that you'll spare a thought for the Saints this season and perhaps follow them?

Come On You Reds

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

How to avoid Car Sickness - tips and advice

Travel sickness occurs when repetitive small movements send the brain mixed messages. The eyes say one thing about the position of the body, while the inner ear balance mechanisms report something different. This confusion can result in feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting and becoming sweaty.

It's not always motion that triggers the sickness. Smells, such as those of food or petrol, anxiety that it's going to happen may ensure it does and focusing on a nearby object, such as trying to read a book or a map, can make people feel queasy.

Children often suffer more than adults. Try to get them to avoid looking down into their lap. Reading or games that encourage concentrating downwards should be left until the journey is over. Singing along to music, playing games that encourage looking ahead and in car DVD player’s help prevent problems too. In addition try to keep the car well ventilated whilst travelling.

There are things that you can buy such as Travel sickness pills. Homeopathic remedies such as Nelson's travella are readily available. With travel pills it is important to read the instructions carefully, particularly around how long you should take them before setting off on your journey. Ginger is also widely advised believed to help stay off the worst of the effects

Acupuncture inspired relief such as Sea-bands are popular with many not just for car and motion sickness but also as a remedy during pregnancy against morning sickness

Other advice includes avoiding large meals before setting off and trying to keep still with your eyes closed. Drivers should look to adopt a smoother more gentle style in order to ensure the most comfortable trip for everyone in the car and schedule in comfort stops as required. Sadly probably wise to include a plastic bag in the car too. Remember it is against the law to stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway unless you have broken down.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

How To Price Car Breakdown Cover?

Yesterday we set our new RAC Breakdown Cover live. We could have launched it at the same time as our new Warranty plans but the truth is we were locked in a heated debate about price.

Whenever such a debate occurs we try to return to "North" on our business compass bearing. "North" has always been about saving motorists money on great automotive products. Car Breakdown cover proved to be stormy sea's, and hence the delay in launching (I promise no more nautical references)

The issue was cover versus headline price. Google "Car Breakdown" and you are bombarded with Roadside cover from just £27 per year. Affordable yes and to a degree worth having providing the car can be fixed at the roadside. But what if it can't be fixed? Whilst the leading RAC and AA basic cover does include a tow up to 10 miles to a garage or safer place, it doesn't help if you are 40 miles from home with the 2 kids and a dog. To get taken home or to a destination of your choice you need to add Recovery to your plan. How many people notice this when the basic policy they bought was legitimately called "Breakdown Cover"?

Equally basic Breakdown Cover doesn't include coming out to your home when your car won't start in the morning because you've got a flat battery, the most common home call out, or the like. This requires an At Home top up to the basic plan.

Having included Recovery and Home Start to your basic Roadside cover the plans are significantly more expensive, but do then have a full suite of solutions in the event your car breaks down or is immobilised.

So here is where the debate raged. Offer a choice of plans at different prices, lots of description about the levels of cover to ensure the motorists is clear about what is and isn't included or One Plan with great cover, provided by a big name breakdown provider

CarCare Direct are delighted to announce the launch of

RAC Breakdown Cover: Roadside, Recovery and At Home for £95

Shame it took 6 weeks to get there!

For more info visit

Friday, 17 July 2009

Follow Friday - Networkers- 17th July

Follow Friday, already?

What a week I've had. Friends over from Oz ( C,mon England), signing up companies to offer our new car warranty to their employees as part of their voluntary benefit schemes and staff incentives and finalising details on a new RAC breakdown cover which should be launching in next few days.

All of these activities involve a degree of business and social networking and so this weeks follow fridays are some of my favourite newtworkers:

@alexparr - amusing and very supportive lady, great tweets and lovely chats offline too. reputation as a gin monster. True? follow her and find out. has some great music plays late in the day too.

@blogcrazy - well known twitterer behind this which just adds more credibility to the networking possibilities. if you are looking for ways to promote your blog then follow her and submit your blog. She'll then tell her followers and ask for that all important feedback

@bttradespace - on twitter they are very supportive to their followers and the actual BT Tradespace is a brilliant tool to promote your business and improve your SEO (try it, and you'll see the results within 3 months). To be fair all then BT tradespacers on twitter and on their actual site are very supportive, follow and sign up is my suggestion

@Essex_courier - so helpful, making league tables (BT Tradespacers) promoting network meetings. In truth I don't know her I just love how she supports her network and promotes networking opportunities

@pimlico_flats - follow and join in on his own forum. Lots of helpful advice and general observations around your on line presence. Has really helped me with some top tips. Good fun too and super supportive

The joy of twitter is that as followers we are all committed networkers and for that I thank you all..

Have a great weekend
Cool bananas

Monday, 13 July 2009

On line businesses still need to talk off line

What an interesting weekend. I actually met a few of our customers. I've emailed plenty, phoned quite a few, skyped a couple but apart from family and friends this weekend was the first time I met some real life customers and had a good old chat.

In an on line world us non techy types can find ourselves busy trying to learn techniques and skills to "maximise" this and "optimise" that. Everyday we find ourselves thinking about landing pages, cpc, long tail keywords and the like.

Having spoken with real customers, real humans who'd used our website to get quotes and find out more I realised I've been fooling myself a bit. I thought we had been having dialogue with customers. We created a warranty quote systems so people could just get a price without leaving tonnes of personal information or having to speak to a commission hungry telesales person. We've done surveys and follow up calls/emails. We ask for recommendations and encourage people to write in with their experiences. However talking to one lovely, slighter more mature lady, I discovered we have been busy talking and not listening and worse than that, talking electronically to a person who wanted to speak to a person.

This lady has bought a warranty plan from us. She was happy with the price, pleased with the level of cover and had actually found our on line quote system easy to use. However she nearly hadn't. She had read the information, understood it but just wanted to be sure she'd understood it properly.

Our online sales process almost failed with this lady. Once she had bought her warranty plan we treated like a real customer. We made sure she had what she needed and was clear with how her plan would be administered and how to contact us. In turn she now is in our contact cycle so we'll be keeping in touch with her. However while she was only a virtual client we had only been virtually there for her.

So at this fabulous lady's suggestion we've added a simple "call me back" option at the point a customer tries to get their quote.

One real conversation on Saturday with a real person has lead to a real solution by Monday morning. All I can say is "Thank you Mrs Kelly"

Friday, 10 July 2009

Follow Friday - Its a car thing - 10th July

Here we are TGIF except my new commitment to blog my #followfridays means some extra effort again.

At CarCare Direct we are committed to helping the private motorist and small business save money on their servicing, warranty and vehicle purchases. To do this we have a number of strategic partners and a very active interest in the automotive sector..oh all right we love cars! So today's #followfridays are brought to you, in no particular order, with a car related theme:

@Tristian_Young Motoring journalist and editor of one of the better Business and Fleet magazines. The difference about those with a Fleet view is they tend to be more pragmatic than the retail mag journalists. Therefore you get better insight into the ownership story. Also worth following to keep up to date with changes affecting company cars (if you have one of course)

@richardaucock another motoring journalist but one that likes the past as much as today. One of the advantages of following any motor journo is you also get a live feed from whatever launch they are at and Richard is good at posting pics. He also posts other good stuff too.

@BrawnGP the official Brawn site and after the season they've had what a great follow. You've already missed quality tweets about Jensons helmet ( I dread to think what auto follows that post got!) yes it's all F1 with a huge Jenson and Rubi bias but hey a Brit is leading the F1 championship -again!

@DealDrivers actually a partner and I use them to help me when I can't find a car for a client. A proper new car broker that is based on an ethical proposition because they plan to be around for years to come. Some of their posts are a bit cryptic as they "share" tit bits of information around price increases and availability, but this information that they get is quite sensitive so hence why they are careful, but also why worth a follow to keep in the know

@CarDealerEd ok so he's on holiday so his recent tweets look a bit thin but well worth a follow. His mag is for the motortrade and as such gives us, the retail punter, an interesting insight into the challenges and changes facing the franchised and non franchised dealers. Sets the occasional best car type challenge too which is always good for challenging your motoring grey cells

@In51der this is a great blog site full of tales from the motortrade. Sharing tricks of the trade and market trends. This has much more useful tips for the potential retail buyer than any parkers mag could hope to offer plus armed with his information you won't p**s any garages off just help get a good deal and understand the process better.

@ToyotaPR there are a few Car manufacturer PR bods on twitter but Scott is much more engaging and also willing to offer personal opinions and not just talk the corporate line. Toyota are an innovative company and have used twitter as part of their recent prius and IS convertible launches which was a bit of fun listening in and interacting with the actual test drives

If you're into cars then twitter has lots of excellent people to follow. It's also interesting to watch the number of new motor related entrants as manufacturers, dealers and leasing companies explore this medium as a way of engaging with customers. If you follow my #followfriday suggestions you'll be in pole position to keep up to date with these changes

Cool bananas

Friday, 3 July 2009

Follow Friday 3rd July 2009 - Twitterers only

I love #followfriday on Twitter. It is a great way to thank your followers and to find people you might like to follow. (If you're not sure what it's all about read this #followfriday from my tweetmentor @NikkiPilkington)

However as it's popularity has grown so has the noise and to be honest it has lost some of it's meaning as people resort to long lists of people without adding a reason why you're recommending the person.

Now don't get me wrong I understand the list mentality, after all you want to recommend followers who you've built a rapport with. You feel bad if you get an #ff and you haven't reciprocated, well I do anyway. Plus it's not always easy to articulate why you're recommending that person in 140 characters. So, on the advice of my tweetmentor @NikkiPilkington, I am blogging my #followfriday recommendations. It takes longer to do but that way I'll be sure to have given it more thought and it will therefore reflect the tweets of that week. If you're a follower 2 things:

1. Thanks for the follow, I know you don't have to and if I'm being dull or can do anything for you just ask
2. If you're not on the list this week it doesn't mean I don't like you nor that you won't be on it next week :)

So eyes down for this weeks #followfridays: @mykitchenstore has a couple of great online kitchen and bedroom businesses plus a DIY store nearly ready. But that's not the reason to follow her as she Never plugs them. Instead she twitters for the joy, knowledge and engagement with her followers. Always supportive of other small businesses tweeters, she should definitely be followed @neets68 what a week she's had. Fell asleep on a train, got in at 4am but still sent out her daily cheery tweets about the people on her commute, copious fag breaks and chicken soup addiction. She's good fun, no business content, no meaningful quotes, just fun:) @percythepigeon. Percy is a bird on a mission, doing his bit to raise awareness about the issues of bullying. He has a book that your kids, school, children's club might want to consider buying, and lots of advice and links on the subject matter. Always helping his followers and promoting what they are doing @balloonbaboon This is a lady making the enormous step of getting behind her unique gift business and leaving the security of paid employment. In these difficult times why not support this kind of enterprise? The balloon models are fun, well priced and definitely different. You probably won't need one today but follower her as the aide memoir for when you want that unusual gift @shuangisbourne is worth a follow if you think you could/should be using the telephone more effectively in your business. Great mentor, lots of tips and advice. I took up his phonementor course ( more detail than you'll ever need). Anything not covered or you need to know he'll answer for you. If you have a phone calling related business you need to follow him @givemestrength just for fun nomination but be warned he is rude and does swear ( in fact he swears a lot lol) However his irreverent humour ( cue a mocking tweet) amuses me and his rants are epic. Couple of half decent horse racing tips too;)

That's my lot for this week, next week my recommendations will be around what is dearest to me CARS

So thanks for the follows and have a great weekend

Cool bananas

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

If you're thinking of hiring a car this summer - book now!

The peak summer periods often cause issues for car hire companies in terms of vehicle availability, but this year looks likely to be worse. Anyone looking to hire a car this summer is advised to book early to avoid disappointment and possible rising car hire charges.

The reason behind this problem lies with how rental companies run their fleets. Cars are taken on in one of two ways. The preferred method is on a guaranteed buy back from the manufacturer. This is where the manufacturer agrees to take the car back at an agreed age and mileage and in a certain condition. In the past this was great news for the manufacturer as lots of nice easy registrations and, with a newish car, the chance to get it out and seen on the road; plus it generates some nice nearly new stock. The rental companies liked this as they didn’t pay for the depreciation and had nice new cars. The second way is where the car hire company buys the car and then disposes of it themselves. The manufacturers have had to give some eye watering discounts to make this work in the past so the daily “holding” cost of the car allowed the rental company to run its business and make a profit

Both methods cost the manufacturer a lot of money and as the economy has bitten they are less ready to dig deep. They are also all cutting back on production in order to avoid creating excess stock, thus tying up precious cash reserves in idle metal. This naturally leads to fewer cars being made available to the rental companies and could also start to push prices up

Add the scarcity of cars to the peak periods and it is clear to see that some people may find themselves disappointed if they leave hiring their car to the last minute.

Don’t think this will lead to free upgrades. The rental firms with fewer cars available to rent out will want to ensure they maximise their revenue

Book early to avoid disappointment. It obviously makes sense to book early as at least you then have the peace of mind and you know your holiday transport is sorted. You may also feel more comfortable booking with a larger rental firm as they tend to be part of an even larger group and so have better access to a larger pool of vehicles.

I know this sounds a bit like us drumming up business but you don’t have to hire a car from us. We aren’t alone is sharing this message and we DO think it will only get worse

Get a quote today using our Alamo affiliate offer which will save you 10% off the on line price.

Alamo UK and European destinations

Alamo USA and Canada

What others are saying:

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Child safety week 22nd - 28th June 2009

Child safety is obviously something we should take seriously all year round but it is good to get a little refresher and that's where Child safety week comes in. In fact it's familiarity that poses some of the biggest threat to children, which is why drilling them at an early age is such a good idea.We've put together a ion of fun and informative resources to specifically cover:
· Children's car seats - fitting, buying, Free checks
· Kids on Bikes - cycling and safety
· Child road safety - including advice for 3-4 year olds
· Teenagers - road safety, bikes and driving
· For information visit us at
For further information on the broader initiatives for Child safety week visit

Thursday, 11 June 2009

I'll have my warranty without spam please

Monday saw the release of our car warranty plans. It had taken ages to get off the ground particularly as we wanted our warranty to be a bit different, with customers selecting their own claims limit ( an excess in reverse if you like)

To decide on our launch offer we used twtpoll to get feedback from our followers which incentive they thought sounded the best. This worked brilliantly and so (drum roll please) we came up with, I mean they came up with "win the price of your warranty back". Anyone buying a plan before 31st August 2009 will be entered into a draw to win the price they paid back.

We always intended to have an additional offer for Twitter and BT Tradespace, a kind of thank you and recognition of how we enjoy these socio - business forums. Now the time has come to make that offer we are struck with the fear of coming across as "spammy". We have taken time and trouble with who we follow, what we tweet, what we comment on and what we don't. This has been a slow but deliberate process and we do not want to blow it now

Commercially we'd hope that our followers would share the offer with friends and families from their on and off line lives but how to best to offer up a discount without sounding like we're full of spam?

Thoughts would be welcome please

Monday, 8 June 2009

When is an order not an order?

The biggest myth at this time is that there are fields of cars sitting around waiting for a good owner, like some stray dog at a compound. Yes there are a few manufacturer's with some stock, but most now have washed through the oversupply of last year. Reduced production, even factory closures such as Honda, mean that increasingly the popular car needs to be factory ordered.

As a consumer we are used to the idea of placing an order by leaving a deposit and we believe that from that point the good or service is secured and at that price. The car business can be a little different.

A dealer is given an allocation of vehicles they can order and this is then broken down by month or quarter. Once they have used up all their "slots" for that period they have to wait until the next period before the order is accepted by the factory. For the twitterers amongst you its a bit like the 100API limits.

So what? Well manufacturers price increases are usually price protected, but protected at the point that the order is accepted by the factory.

So, if you are in the market for a new car at this time I have 2 pieces of advice:

1. Order now, there are price rises scheduled by the big manufacturers (yes I know more!) for July

2. When ordering make sure the dealer has allocation and that you will be price protected (including the scrappage scheme which states you must take delivery of your new car within 4 months of ordering)

Friday, 5 June 2009

Balloon Baboon

Last week on Twitter we met @balloonbaboon. Nice person with a fab new business that combines balloon modelling with unique personal gifts. They make everything from rabbits to flower arrangements, pop it in a lovely box and post it out for you. I just loved this as a gift idea.

Over the course of her tweets we learnt she was busy trying to get some momentum behind this new business, in readiness for taking the plunge full time. So we asked if she could model something relevant for us and she did

Our very own car balloon and now you could have one too and if you order before Wednesday you can have it in time for Fathers day. Now that would be a change from another pair of socks

For more information on Balloon Baboon visit their website:

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Fueling the Debate

Since the beginning of the year we have watched fuel prices creep back up. We endured the April Fools day joke of an additional 2.12p duty on a litre of fuel and eagerly await the next 2p rise in September. As it stands today the average price of a litre of unleaded has exceeded the £1 mark.

With this as the backdrop HMRC has announced the changes for the advisory fuel rates. These are the amounts that honest company car drivers can claim back per mile on expenses. So from the 1st July 2009 there will be.... no change!

Now for those on MP type salaries this won't be a disaster, but that is not the case for thousands of key workers such as midwives and carers etc. These people travel hundreds of miles, but mostly local trips, around town where their cars are not running at their most efficient. In addition many company car drivers have been opting, as a direct result of Government benefit in kind taxation strategy, for diesel cars as these tend to be lower Co2 and so have less of a tax burden. However diesel has seen the biggest increase in the last 12 months (don't get me on that one) and so the advisory rates often don't cover the actual cost. This then leaves ordinary people out of pocket.

With "expenses" so much in the media at the moment, you can't help feel that freezing these advisory rates is an interesting decision from a Government department.

Friday, 29 May 2009


How we use twitter in 140 words or less
To be honest I am mostly to blame for our online content and I started the discussion about being able to show a more personal side after discovering Twitter

Finding Twitter
We'd found it via BT Tradespace. Now the Tradespace site is great, though it could be awesome if it was just a little more robust. Whilst on there we started to engage with some other businesses and immediately saw the benefits with lots of on line advice including Twitter.
Having set up our Twitter account we (I) quickly found myself wasting hours on it and not really getting anywhere. Just as I thought we'd abandon it we found Nikki Pilkington and her tweetmentor course. Frankly we've
not looked back.

What we Tweet
It's a mixture of industry news, plugs for our products and services coupled with simple social interaction with our followers and followees. I tend to programme business tweets using tweet later. This allows us to see what impact posting at different times has. It also ensures that there is business content and not just me getting involved with friendly banter. I do worry about coming across to "spammy". The mixture of "live" and "programmed" tweets can mean at times we are making a lot of posts but so far no negative feedback.

For business and pleasure but always social
I've made lots of friends and contacts on line, people I enjoy speaking with, learnt lots from and LOL all the time with. Whilst my wife has been in and out of hospital the messages of support have been generous, charming and totally unexpected and all within the confines of 140 characters. You can't ask for much more can you?

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Why does CarCare Direct need a blog?

In the beginning
We launched CarCare Direct in 2008. Three of us, with a combined motor trade experience of over 65 years, decided that our breadth of experience in Retail, Fleet and Finance could be put to good use, helping save small businesses and the private motorist especially, money on their motoring bills. Our mantra was : saving money, spreading the cost, removing the hassle and remembering the environment. Every time we do anything we look to meet these criteria.

Making it more personal
We love the CarCare Direct website and our ever growing range of products but we wanted a way to engage on a more personal level. A tool where we could share our knowledge and opinions without worrying if they reflected badly on our company. A way of sharing some of the detail without overloading the site. We started to use Twitter, but sometimes 140 characters just isn't enough.
So here we are, looking forward to letting you know more about us, sharing our thoughts, gossip and detail. If you want to know anything specifically get in touch and we'll see what we can do to help.