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EXECUTIVE REPORT


Fast Hire says that “Renewing


machines has improved reliability and reduced our expenditure.”


Life in the Fast lane


Fast Hire and Sales’ focus on meeting the needs of local authorities helps it avoid the peaks and troughs of the construction sector - and enables the business to plan effectively for the medium term. Dan Jenkins reports.


Based in Stockport, Fast Hire and Sales’ customers have always predominantly been local authorities in North-West England. The company says that serving the public sector requires a specific hire business model, as Director Andy Buckley explains. “We serve some private sector civil engineers and grounds workers, but they are not a huge proportion of our business. Our main focus is on local authorities in the north-west, as we believe that there is no point in spreading yourself too thin.


“We know local authorities have some challenges in terms of budget restrictions, but they like the stability we provide in terms of understanding and meeting their specific needs. A lot of the work is contracted through tenders and framework agreements. This gives us security that we have the work for two or three years - often with an option for the council to extend it by a year or two. This really helps us in terms of planning our business. It enables us to buy and invest in the right areas, and to produce better forecasts.


The value of quality


“We don’t experience the turbulence met by some companies serving the private sector. It is getting increasingly cutthroat, with less and less value placed on quality of service, whereas the local authorities really do still appreciate the service we provide. Don’t get me wrong - it is still competitive - but it is much more focused around building long-term relationships.”


Lowton, near Warrington, and has led to efficiencies in several operational areas, such as transport.


“All our engineers are based on the new site,” says Andy Buckley. “We are now putting up a three-bay workshop so we can take on bigger projects for our customers, repairing and refurbishing larger plant and equipment for them. The steelwork is in place, so we expect to open that part of the facility in the next few months.”


Fast Hire is currently focused on fleet renewal rather than fleet expansion, although it has recently increased the number of Takeuchi excavators it offers. “We identified that a growing amount of resource was going into maintaining the fleet. Renewing machines has improved reliability and reduced our expenditure on service and repair. More modern equipment typically also means lower running costs and improvements in other areas such as vibration.”


The company is also heavily promoting battery-powered tools for grounds care from Stihl, for which it is a dealer. These are used widely by councils in maintaining green spaces. “Stihl has been very proactive in investing in cordless equipment. These tools provide lower HAV, they are quieter and, of course, there are no emissions. Councils are very focused on less noisy equipment for use in public places, and on reducing their carbon footprint.”


The company works hard to address any resistance to change workers might have, holding demonstration days and providing free loans of the battery-powered tools. “Getting someone to embrace change can be difficult, especially when they have done something the same way for decades,” said Andy Buckley. “Leaving the equipment with them for up to two weeks can really transform their attitudes.


The business recently moved to a new purpose-built depot and showroom in Bredbury.


Fast Hire recently completed its move to a new purpose-built depot and showroom in Bredbury, near Stockport. This consolidated its operations into one site, leading to the closure of its depot in


11


“Feedback includes the fact that they don’t have to wear ear defenders, and for the first time these operatives could communicate with each other while they were working. They also love the fact that the equipment is lighter, there are no fumes, and they don’t need to carry petrol around. The local authorities like the improvements in health and safety, and reductions in emissions, but to


the end user, these are often the things that really matter.” www.fasthireuk.co.uk


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