Referrals are such an important part of the consumer and business experience. Asking a trusted source for their advice or opinion is often the first step we take when determining a big move. Hearing about a successful experience can motivate businesses to explore new opportunities and evaluate new partners.

Are you using the experiences of your fleet partners to help drive success to your organization?

Power of referrals

Auto Truck Group recently experienced the power of referrals first-hand in a success story that continues to spread. The states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama operate power companies at the state level. Working in relatively similar environmental conditions, the states have come to lean on each other for advice and support.

All four state power companies hold a quarterly meeting, to fill each other in on recent news and changes that could benefit the other states. Auto Truck Group, which services all regions of the United States, already had a longstanding contract with one of the four states in these meetings, and was providing all the upfitting needs to keep their power trucks running smoothly as they service the 65,800 square miles of the state.

Auto Truck Group became a topic of interest during a quarterly power meeting. “The client would talk about all of these upfits that we were doing, and it caught the interest of Alabama Power Company, “explained Auto Truck Group Southeast Fleet Sales Manager, Kimberly Brooks.” Alabama Power finally asked who was responsible for all these upfits, and the answer was always Auto Truck.”

To put it simply, Alabama Power was having a shop problem, wasting time in their internal maintenance garages to add components to fleet trucks.

“In the past, they were working with a local upfitter locations to get their vehicle parts, and as the units came in they would use their internal garages to continue the upfit,” explained Kimberly. “Performing this work in their internal garages was taking away from their primary mission of preventative maintenance (PM) service.”

Launching a Pilot

Alabama Power knew they needed to make a change, but were hesitant to take a big leap. So, Auto Truck Group worked with them to upfit a pilot group of seven trucks, giving them a preview of how an Auto Truck Group partnership can deliver value. “When we first launched the pilot, the process was very foreign to them,” said Kimberly. “We put their garages in our system, having units delivered to their garages throughout the state.”

We also set Alabama Power up to perform their own warranty work, since they were already approved by Ford with the correct tools and systems. They were able to do their own repairs and bill Auto Truck Group directly, which reduced downtime and saved money.

The cost savings were so immediate and significant that seven trucks quickly turned into another 56 in a single year. The partnership grew from the initial $300,000 spend to more than $1 million. Moving their upfitting out of their internal garage and into the hands of Auto Truck Group led to a 36 percent savings in upfitting alone. “They were beyond thrilled with what we could provide them in just the first year. We met to discuss what went well and what didn’t go well with the pilot, and then made some adjustments to fit what they needed,” said Kimberly. “When the vice president of finance for Alabama Power saw the savings, they told us to prepare for more.”

In the first year, Auto Truck took on another 221 vehicles, and ended the following year with another 181 vehicles.

Good News Travels Fast

As the years went on the word kept spreading, this time to a new state.

“Alabama Power was sharing their savings and the quality of the Auto Truck product at their meeting, and that’s when another power company in the region perked up and wanted more information on Auto Truck,” said Kimberly, who noted that Auto Truck Group had been meeting with the third state for years, but noticed they were consistently hesitant to pull the trigger on the change. “It wasn’t until they heard about the positive relationship we built with Alabama Power on top of our original client that they took the next step with us.”

Since that second referral, Auto Truck has worked with the third power company and has placed 47 orders for 2019. We’re also working with the power company to develop their garages and set up their maintenance programs so that they have the same easy transition as the other two states.

“I’m happy that the quality of our work and the process helped to win our newest client. We built the trucks well on a prompt schedule, and it’s led to greater things,” said Kimberly. “Anyone can build a truck, but not everyone can build a quality truck in a timely manner. That combined with cost savings build trust with customers that want to grow with us.

“We have the edge and the professionalism that sets us apart from our competitors, and the work in our shops is what led to this success and the success across the Southeast. I can’t wait to see what else we can do.”


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