We take a look under the bonnet to find out what keeps the wheels of the tool giant turning
Snap-on’s heritage is one that’s worthy of note. Established in the US almost 100 years ago, the brand came to the UK in 1965 and has since grown to become one of the largest and most easily recognisable names in both the motor and franchise industries.
The company prides itself on maintaining its position as a world leader. It’s managed to achieve this through constant innovation, quality products and a passion for delivering the very best in customer service - to both its end-users and its thriving network of franchisees.
No such thing as sitting still
With what it describes as a ‘roll-up your sleeves’ mentality towards innovation, Snap-on combines customer listening and the best new thinking into proven products and services.
Whether it’s hand tools that perform under the most rigorous conditions, diagnostic equipment that’s easy to use or tool storage solutions that utilise every square inch of workspace, innovation is a quality found throughout the product line.
At its recent national franchise conference, the company launched 159 new products - all of which were designed, built, tested and manufactured by Snap-on, thanks to ideas, feedback and direct input from franchisees. By listening to, and responding to their customers, Snap-on ensures that when franchisees hear the question: “What’s new Snappy?” the answer is always one that will delight.
Phil Nassau, national sales director, says: “In a world where every competitor claims to be the leading innovator, we think there is one absolute way to measure the truth - the patent office. Snap-on Incorporated and its affiliates currently hold more than 2,000 active and pending patents worldwide.”
Snap-on understands that innovation and technology is equally as important to a franchisee’s business. As a result, franchisees benefit from multi-million-pound investments into innovative sales support programmes, such as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Trucks and, new for 2016, The TechKnow Truck.
One of four huge Snap-on branded, 10-tonne Rock N’ Roll Trucks visits a different franchise territory every week.
These mobile stores sell big, customised tool boxes. They generate lots of excitement and, most importantly, sales. Each truck costs the company a whopping £143,000 per year to run, yet there’s no cost to franchisees for this service.
As a direct result of this innovation, average franchisee tool storage sales were up 28 per cent in 2016 versus 2015.
As automotive technology advances, the demand for diagnostic tools has increased dramatically. To help franchisees capitalise on this upward trend, Snap-on invested over £170,000 and launched The TechKnow Truck programme at the end of 2016.
A dedicated 7.5-tonne truck with fully interactive diagnostic experience visits a different franchise territory every week. A specialist diagnostic rep accompanies franchisees for two days’ dedicated sales and support and, once again, there’s no cost to the franchisee.
From daily route planning capabilities to business development software, technology is at the heart of the Snap-on franchise. Less tangible, but equally important, is Snap-on inroads into the realms of social media.
Following the 2017 launch of the brand’s new Facebook page and Instagram account, interaction with customers has reached an all time high, with competitions, new product launches, behind-the-scenes footage and some of the spectacular automotive sponsorship deals going viral.
Quality as standard
Snap-on is the world’s number one professional tool brand. The company is the leading global manufacturer and distributor of tools for the professional technician.
Franchisees own and run an iconic showroom on wheels and deliver Snap-on’s range of over 22,000 gold standard, premium products to technicians up and down the country.
While auto trade remains its primary market, Snap-on also serves technicians in the marine and aviation industries, as well as vehicle manufacturers, utilities, government and industrial organisations. The quality and diversity of the product range has allowed franchisees to penetrate and dominate in an impressive number of sectors.
In an independent industry survey, Snap-on was the number one choice of the professional technician. For 80 per cent of respondents, Snap-on was the top choice for hand tools and 65 per cent chose Snap-on for tool storage.
A culture of service
Snap-on is passionate about customer care and has an ingrained culture of customer service and support. As a franchisor, Snap-on is proudly dedicated to helping franchisees create lifelong customers.
Lifetime warranty is offered on all products without moving parts, meaning that Snap-on will repair or replace faulty tools free of charge, regardless of age or condition. Crucially, this is at no cost to the franchisee.
In 2015 Snap-on invested £1.5 million to upgrade its Kettering-based service centre, which now boasts top-of-the-range facilities and employs 21 highly trained technicians.
In an age of digital conversations, social media and online automation, Snap-on strives to ensure its customer service stays people-driven and not process focused.
With service levels to rival even some of the most well known retail brands, Snap-on’s impressive customer service team, also based in Kettering, answer 90 per cent of customer telephone calls in under 10 seconds, with 90 per cent of queries resolved on first contact.
Customer emails are responded to within 3.5 hours and every social media message receives a personal reply.
Uniquely, Snap-on also considers its own franchisees as customers and imposes on itself the same exceptional service standards when it comes to supporting its franchisees as it does for its end users.
A 32-strong in-house support team, 49 field staff and 150-plus head office staff are dedicated to the success of each and every franchisee. Enabling them to run their businesses quickly, efficiently and with the maximum potential for sales in their territories.
Franchisee Chris Ashton says: “I know I can ring my area manager or head office any day, any time and they’ll get any problems resolved and help me however they can.
“That’s a massive positive with our franchise. Even though it’s my business and my money, if something needs to be sorted out, Snap-on are really good at helping you.”
Along with regular regional meetings and ongoing training, Snap-on’s national franchise advisory council ensure communication between the network and head office is open and, most importantly, that Snap-on, as franchisor, is held accountable by representatives elected by franchisees themselves.
The result is a network that’s demonstrating year-on-year growth and ever increasing pride, confidence and proficiency in their individual businesses.