Dean Pipitone, Managing Director of Cooper Solutions, celebrates 20th year with the software and digital solutions business

Cooper Solutions has been developing and providing software and digital solutions for the retail automotive industry since 2001. This month marks Dean Pipitone’s 20th year with the business, a milestone to celebrate.

Dean joined Cooper Solutions when it was a very small business but with very big ideas.  Having worked for BMW, Dean brought with him plenty of knowledge of the workings of the Automotive industry, and an understanding of the pressures dealers face.

As the driving force behind the success of FullCover, Dean oversaw consistent year on year increases in the number of days retailers took advantage of the daily rate insurance product for customer loans.

Finely tuning FullCompliance, Dean led the development of software that combats the threat of six-figure fines faced by dealerships failing to comply with BIK tax guidelines and vehicle banding for employees.

Dean commented: “Working for Cooper Solutions has been an absolute privilege. We operate in an incredibly dynamic sector so listening and responding to the ever-changing needs of our customers is key.  To do this consistently and effectively is only possible with the support and input from a highly motivated and professional team –  something we pride ourselves on across the business. In 2019, we were acquired by PIB Group, with whose support we rode the waves of the pandemic alongside our customers and under whose ownership we continue to adapt and enhance our products and increase our market share.”

As Managing Director, Dean works tirelessly to move the business forward. His mission is to enhance the experience Cooper Solutions’ retailer clients offer their customers, whether they are looking to buy, or returning for aftersales support.  Continuously refining and improving each product is vital in ensuring the business helps retailers drive processes, performance and profit.

Dean continued: “I’m very proud of the market leading products we have developed, testament to our committed team of experts. We always say that it’s our people who make Cooper Solutions shine, and it is an honour to celebrate 20 years with business.”

Andrew Whicher celebrates 15 years with Cooper Solutions

Cooper Solutions has been in business for almost 18 years, and Andrew has been an integral part of its growth for the last 15 years.  Andrew joined the fledgling business when it provided just two products and employed a small team.

Now Product Director, during his time with Coopers, Andrew has been a strong influence in driving the business forward, using his expert knowledge to help win new customers and retain existing users.  With a mission to improve performance, profitability and performance, Andrew has helped establish the portfolio of Coopers products, using his Keyloop understanding and forging third-party relationships to provide greater insight though the use of the business’ solutions.

Dean Pipitone, Managing Director, Cooper Solutions says: ‘With exceptional knowledge of the automotive industry and a real understanding of the challenges retailers face, Andrew’s drive has played a crucial and significant role in Coopers’ success.  His technical expertise is incredible, and he is known for this not just within the business, but with our customers and the businesses we partner with.

In addition, his role in PIB’s Automotive Practice Group demonstrates his commitment to supporting the industry through software solutions, insurance, risk management and employee benefits, all helping drive performance through innovation and insight.”

Andrew commented: “With the automotive sector having faced challenges we could never have predicted, our products have been more beneficial than ever to our retailer customers and it is vital that we continue to develop our solutions to ensure we continue to support them.  I am very proud of the market leading products we have developed which is testament to our committed team of experts. At Cooper Solutions, we always say that it’s our people who make the business shine, and it is an honour to celebrate my 15 year anniversary with the business.”

 

Recruiting talent for long-term recovery in the automotive industry

The industry reported the highest reduction in full time employees in UK businesses following a bleak 2019 which saw global production dip by almost 5%, after 10 years of growth.

Disruption to supply chains, and ongoing shortage of semiconductors continues to impact vehicle production. Despite this, a survey by HSBC showed that 73% of vehicle manufacturers expects a net increase in the number of full-time employees by the end of this year* .

Competition for talent

Increased demand for electric vehicles as pressure mounts to phase out fossil fuels, means manufacturers need to rethink skillsets and prioritise job transformation, since their design is focused on digitisation and user experience.

More employees with software design, development and cyber security skills are needed. This means competing with tech companies for that talent.

Planning for long-term recovery

By 2030, up to 30% of a vehicle’s total costs are expected to be driven by software and electronics*, but only 9% of the respondents in HSBC’s survey say they prioritise recruiting for software roles. This talent shortfall could hamper the industry’s long-term recovery.

Employee benefits

With increased competition for talent, we recommend offering attractive packages and continued support for your staff to make your business stand out from the rest.

Matthew Allen, Head of Commercial, PIB Employee Benefits comments: “The digital skills gap is not unique to the automotive industry. The rise of automation and new technologies is transforming the world of work, resulting in an urgent need for large-scale upskilling and reskilling.”

Please contact Matthew by email or telephone: 0177 786 9900

 

*https://www.business.hsbc.com/en-gb/insights/growing-my-business/whos-hiring-and-why

 

Flood response planning for the automotive industry – understand, minimise risk and reduce damage

Flooding can have a devastating impact on your business.  Since commercial properties are twice as likely to be at risk from flooding compared to the average British property[1], it is vital you are prepared in the event of a disaster.

Flooding is a significant risk to retailers.  A relatively small depth of flooding can cause exceptionally high losses, with a depth of flooding of around 30cm likely to cause significant/total loss to vehicles stored at ground level.

Flood is challenging in so far as the measures which can be put in place to mitigate the risk are limited.  Transferring the risk is an option but insurers are increasingly cautious around flood risks due to significant losses in recent years, particularly the Boxing Day floods of 2015.  In February this year, Storm Franklin caused flooding in Yorkshire (North/South and West), Derbyshire and West Midlands.  There has also been significant surface water flooding in Central London which cost insurers many millions.

Insurers also have significant concerns around climate change and the impact this may have on flood losses with greater extremes of weather events being experienced.

Floods threaten businesses, yet in a survey by FloodFlash[2], only 42% claimed to have business interruption insurance.

There are a number of ways to properly assess the risk, mitigate the risk and plan for a flooding event.

Help ensure your business is more flood resilient by considering:

Understanding and mitigating flood risk

Are you in a flood risk area?

The National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies identifies three types of flooding which are considered as having the potential to cause significant disruption in the UK.

  • Coastal (where high tides and storm surges combine to cause the sea to flood inland)
  • Rivers and streams, known as ‘fluvial flooding’ (where waterways overflow their banks into surrounding areas)
  • Surface water (where rainfall overwhelms drainage systems). Surface water flooding is also particularly difficult to forecast with accuracy and can happen at very short notice

GOV.UK provides services to tell you the flood risk of area:

https://check-long-term-flood-risk.service.gov.uk/risk

https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/

The information provided by the databases can be limited, but they will provide an overview of the flood risk, classifying this is High, Medium or Low, or by various flood zones 1, 2 and 3 with 3 being the higher risk.

Identifying where there is a risk

Where a risk is identified, it is important to understand the extent of the risk and how this might impact on the business.

PIB Insurance Brokers (link to website) and PIB Risk Management (link to website) can assist in a number of ways:

  • Desktop review
  • Site survey
  • Business Continuity or Emergency Response Planning to help assist in preparing for and responding to a flooding incident that may impact on the dealership customer services or the welfare of employees

These measures provide a greater level of understanding including potential depths of flooding and likelihood of flooding based upon a frequency in years, and along with considering an estimated maximum loss, we are able to engage with insurers in discussion and negotiation around the stance they are taking to the flood risk.

It is accepted that it may be impossible to completely flood proof your business, but with climate change leading to a greater risk of floods, it is crucial to take precautionary steps now to reduce the impacts of damage.

For more information, please contact Adrian Robinson, Managing Director, PIB Risk Management, t: 07753 984433

[1] The FloodFlash Commercial Risk report 2022 – 2nd Edition

[2] The FloodFlash Commercial Risk report 2022 – 2nd Edition

Pandemic-induced supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine continue to impact automotive industry

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicates that UK automotive production declined by 32.4 per cent on 2021 levels, going from 306,558 to 207,347 new vehicles registered.

The fall is largely due to fuel and diesel car production going down as battery electric vehicles (BEVs) made 7.5 per cent of the UK total output for the quarter, up 1.1 and 4.3 per cent on last year and 2019 levels respectively.

March 2022 was the weakest for the last 13 years, as production fell by 33.4 per cent year-on-year after UK automotive exports went down 41.4 per cent.

Exports to the US have been hit the hardest, which are down 63.8 per cent on last year, largely due to Honda’s decision to close the Swindon production plant last year, which manufactured vehicles primarily for the American market.  Furthermore, exports to the EU declined by 24.5 per cent.

While productions volumes have been constricted because of Covid-induced global semiconductor shortages for the last two years, the war in Ukraine exacerbated the situation by making supply parts and freight costs more expensive.

Last month, Volkswagen’s global output for 2022 was thrown into question following a shortage of Ukraine-produced wire harnesses, while Mercedes warned yesterday the war as well as new lockdowns in China could hinder production.

Ross Barnitt, National Sales Director, PIB Insurance Brokers, commented: “We are in a ‘wait and see’ situation, but the automotive industry is a robust and buoyant one.”

Claims inflation and how to mitigate costs to your business

Working alongside our colleagues at PIB Insurance Brokers, Karen Reed, Motor Trade Director discusses claims inflation and how to mitigate costs to your business.

The rising cost of claims is due to a number of factors.  These include Brexit, fuel shortages, the increased cost of energy, the continued impact of workforce absences due to Covid 19, vehicle technology, and environmental and legislative issue.  More recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is impacting the global financial market.

Specifically, claims within the automotive sector are being affected by delays in parts and increased costs. Parts for cars and commercial vehicles have been impacted by supply chain issues, in particular due to issues with semiconductor computer chips, and vehicles are often off the roads for months at a time if they are involved in an accident.

In addition, labour costs have also increased.  According to Allianz data1, in just the last year labour costs have risen by 6.5%, repairs by 6.6% and parts by 9.1%.

These problems are affecting most vehicle manufacturers, and subsequently retailers.  It is vital that business mitigate costs in the event of a claim by doing the following:

  • Notify your claims handler as soon as possible. This is paramount, and can mean the insurer can offer its services to a third party, and reduce hire charges which are based on the current climate (for example, difficulties obtaining parts are driving up this element).
  • Provide as much information as possible to allow your handler to act quickly. In the event of an accident, take pictures of the other party’s registration and damage caused, make a note of the number of occupants.
  • Gather video evidence such as CCTV which can help speed up settlement of your claim.

Delays in reporting an incident can mean lost opportunities to help, and a lengthier time to investigate an incident, which can drive up the cost of a claim even further.

 

Source

1 Allianz motor claims inflation update

Cyber crime threat grows as sophisticated attacks threaten automotive industry

With retailers relying on customer data, they can place themselves at risk of a cyber attack.  Cyber criminals know the high value of this data, and are becoming more and more sophisticated in their efforts to steal this information.

A cyber attack can be costly to your business both financially and to your reputation.

If your dealership was to suffer a ransomware attack, or any other form of cyber attack, are you confident that you would be able to do the following:

  • Immediately access specialist legal advice to ensure that your regulatory, reporting and notification obligations are fulfilled?
  • Access independent IT specialists to undertake forensic analysis, halt the attack and help you to get back up and running again?
  • Recover any losses of income and/or additional costs incurred as a result of the attack, including reputational damage?
  • Access legal and monetary resources to deal with any third party liability action relating to the attack?

If the answer to any of the above points is “no”, then now may be the time for you to consider the risk transfer solutions which are available to you, such as a thorough assessment of the attacks you may face, training your employees to, for example, recognise phishing emails, and ensuring you have the right cyber insurance policy in place.

 

Electric Vehicles and the key risks surrounding batteries

The electric vehicle (EVs) market is growing quickly, with over 365,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of November 2021, and more than 705,000 plug-in models including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)*.

Whilst the impact on the environment can only be positive, what are the implications for retailers in terms of risk to their businesses?

Charging

A number of insurers have raised concerns over the charging of vehicles within dealerships outside business hours.  This is due to the potential fire risk and the emission of gases during the charging process.

To reduce risk, we recommend you consider the nature of controls required as described in the RISCAuthority RC59 document, RC59 Fire safety when charging electric vehicles.  This suggests, for example, establishing dedicated fire protected areas, such as separate charging buildings.

Should full compliance not be achievable, our Risk Management team may be able to negotiate with insurers to agree practical ways in which you can demonstrate good compliance with RC59.

Storage

Specific legislation surrounds the storing of batteries, and includes measures such as sustainability, safety, labelling, and end of life management.

The guiding principle of the UK legislation is that all waste batteries must be processed by an Approved Battery Treatment Operator (ABTO) or an Approved Battery Exporter (ABE).  Specifically, producers of automotive batteries must collect waste automotive batteries free of charge from their final holders, such as garages and scrapyards.  More information can be found here.

Our Risk Management experts can help guide on in ensuring your business is meeting the requirements and offer advice on best practice.

Servicing

EVs require regular service checks, just as conventional cars, to help maintain optimal battery performance and the EV’s longevity.  There are risks associated with servicing and repairing EVs since they contain and store energy which could cause serious harm if not managed correctly.

It is vital that a thorough Risk Assessment is carried out to ensure there is a process in place to identify the safety status of all EVs, the appropriate PPE has been provided and checked before work begins, and technicians assigned to work on the vehicles have received the correct training.

In addition, post-repair processes will need to be reviewed to ensure the correct charging of the vehicle battery before the car is returned to the customer, and the safe disposal of any hazardous components.

What next?

Since the risks surrounding EVs are relatively new, and insurers are naturally cautious, our expert Risk Managers can assist you with reducing and managing the risk, and therefore, provide your insurer with the confidence they need to continue to support you with supplying, servicing and repairing EVs in a safe and protected manner.

For more information about the specific legislation about battery manufacture and waste in the UK, please visit:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/regulations-batteries-and-waste-batteries

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/batteries

PIB’s Motor Trade Practice Group can support retailers on key measures to help mitigate the risk, whilst supporting businesses maximise opportunities for profitability. Comprising PIB Insurance BrokersPIB Risk Management and Cooper Solutions, together they work together to deliver tailored insurance solutions to the automotive industry.

For more information, please contact Ross Barnitt, Sales and Marketing Director, PIB Insurance Brokers, T: 07522 230 384

Source:

* https://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/

Cooper Solutions continues to invest in talent with the appointment of Quinncy Dempster as an Account Manager

Quinncy has 17 years’ experience within the automotive industry, having worked for Pendragon as a New Car Sales Executive and Motability Specialist at Evans Halshaw Ford, Milton Keynes.

Having previously worked for Purchase Direct as a Key Account Manager for franchise dealers such as TrustFord and Motorline, and more recently for GEMCO in the same capacity as a Key Account Manager for Manufacturers such as JLR & Toyota, Quinncy has an all round knowledge of the workings of the sector.

Quinncy said: ‘I met Dean Pipitone some time ago through Purchase Direct, and so have been aware of Cooper Solutions and its offering to the automotive industry for some time.  The reputation of the business is very good, and highly regarded.’

Quinncy has joined the FullControl and FullForecast team, focussing on helping shape process and controls in financial and stock management.   Andrew Whicher, Product Director and Head of FullControl and FullForecast, commented: ‘We’re delighted to have Quinncy on board.  With his extensive experience working within the automotive industry, he understands and empathises with the challenges faced by retailers.  He is ideally placed to be able to support our customers as we continue to enable them to increase profitability and performance.’

Quinncy has been enjoying learning about Cooper Solutions’ suite of products, and how they benefit customers in the business’ mission to improve process, performance and profitability.  He continued: ‘Coopers is extremely efficient, and professional, and everyone is very helpful and welcoming, and I’m looking forward to meeting our customers and providing them with proactive Account Management.’

Outside work, Quinncy enjoys playing golf, gardening, cooking and walking with his dog Pippi.

Cooper Solutions appoints Rob Deamer as its FullCycle product moves from strength to strength

We’re really pleased to welcome Rob Deamer to our team, joining as an Account Manager focussing on FullCycle.

Rob’s strong background in the automotive industry further strengthens the team, and the offering FullCycle provides to our retailer customers.  Before joining Cooper Solutions, Rob worked for five years at Rybrook MINI in Stratford-upon-Avon as a Sales Executive, and previously with the Hylton Group for four years.

Rob said: ‘I wanted to join Cooper Solutions having been aware of the products they provide during my time working in dealerships.  Seeing the benefits of FullCycle when used fully is brilliant.  Being able to paint a picture behind the customer makes a massive difference to the Sales teams when prospecting Service customers.  They are able to target the right customers at the right time, which isn’t just time-saving, it’s more motivating.’

Simon Whicher, Sales Director and Product Head of FullCycle commented: ‘We are so pleased to have Rob on board.  Having seen first hand the importance of targeted service prospecting, and with such a good understanding of how dealerships operate both mean he is ideally placed to explain the benefits of FullCycle to our customers and prospects.’

Rob was attracted to Cooper Solutions having become aware of the culture and the freedom each team member has to develop their role.  He continued: ‘I’m enjoying building relationships with my colleagues and customers, sharing our experiences and best practice.’

Away from the motor trade, Rob lives in a Worcestershire village, ideally located for discovering the best dog walks with Oscar.  He and his fiancée enjoy gardening and DIY, and making the final arrangements for their wedding in January next year.