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On the Buses

05/04/2016 | General

Pirtek Preston is heading for its best turnover to date this year and has had to put an extra service van on to deliver on its ETA 1 hour service promise and to keep its customers satisfied.   In fact, the Centre has taken on three extra staff this year alone.   The result; an excellent team has grown into a truly great one. 

“Our success is down to sheer hard work by the team. We have the expertise of ex-Pirtek UK manager, Roy Heaton who is our centre manager, and what he doesn't know about hydraulics isn't worth knowing.   We also have 20 years’ experience in the guise of John Osborne, who heads up our sales team. John is an engineer who has moved through the ranks, and is able to talk to customers on technical issues as well as financial matters.    But the real key is the staff here.   They know speed of response is vital, and that they have to be spot on every time to keep the opposition on the back foot,” asserts joint licensee Elaine Caswell.   “We don't have much transitory business in the territory but we do have a good local client base who have remained loyal because we offer them a good service.' 

In fact, the Centre is heading for its best turnover to date this year, and the secret is definitely service as a recent visit to long-standing customer, Preston Bus demonstrated.   MSST Robert Heaton was on a regular CRM visit to the company and found himself in the right place at the right time to manufacture several replacement hoses without the client even phoning for a visit. 

Preston Bus is an interesting customer as it has gleaned a very diverse range of vehicles from previous owners of the company, as well as acquiring new environmentally friendly, state of the art buses from its new owner Rotala, based in the Midlands. 

Public transport in Preston dates back to 1859, when Richard Vievers started a horse-drawn service between Preston and Fulwood.   In 1879, a 2½ mile long tramway was opened by the Preston Tramways Company under the sanction of Preston Corporation, which was electrified in 1902.   Corporation bus services started in 1922, with the trams converted to Trolly buses in 1930, which were finally replaced by diesel buses in 1935. In October 1969 Preston’s new Central Bus Station and Car Park was officially opened by Lord Stokes of Leyland Motors. At that time the Bus Station was the largest in Europe. Minibus services were introduced in 1987.   The 1990’s were a period of competitive stability, during which the Company was sold to its employees in 1993, and renamed Preston Bus.   In 2007 Preston Bus was subject to high profile competition from Stagecoach who purchased Preston Bus in 2009. However within 6 weeks an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading began, and in January 2011, Rotala Group took over the ownership of Preston Bus. 

A spokesman for Preston Bus said:   “Preston Bus has a very intense preventative maintenance programme in place, with visual checks carried out every day and a major service every 28 days, which we will bring down to 21 days in the near future. We have 10 fitters who maintain over 100 buses at this depot. As you can see we still have Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympians, which are mainly used for schools, running alongside brand new Wright bodied Volvo V12s and our new hybrid buses.   There is a large fleet of Dennis double-deckers with East Lancs Coachwork bodies, as well as all sorts of single deck Scanias and Optares, and we are trialling a new singe deck low floor Mercedes at the moment.   With this range of buses it would be very expensive to keep the sheer range of hoses in stock we need. This where Pirtek proves invaluable. Their engineer calls in every day, if we haven't already called him out, and will manufacture anything we want on the spot.   We also operate 24/7 including night servicing.   However we don't have access to the spares at night, so it's good to know we can get Pirtek to provide anything we need in a hurry.   The sheer expense of new buses means there is no room for contingency vehicles, so all maintenance is carefully planned and all suspect hoses are replaced to ensure customers have the best service we can offer.” 

On this occasion, MMST Robert Heaton ended up replacing an unusual low pressure 3/8" oil filter hose to be handed a pair of much larger 1" oil cooler hoses with 90 degree fittings whilst on site. As part of their service to Preston Bus, Pirtek Preston have upgraded the hydraulic hoses used on site to better cope with the high temperature fluids when the buses are in operation. This has resulted in better wear and a longer life for the components.

 

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