Accident management is an untapped market
Michael McKeown: MD Crash Services
HOW’S BUSINESS? Business is extremely good thanks to the decision we made to go public with our services which had previously been marketed through trade outlets. Our media campaign of TV, billboards and buses in recent months has brought us a new market, whilst strengthening our profile with the repair shops and insurance intermediaries.
ANY EXCITING PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE
Yes we are intending to establish a personal finance company to assist anyone who is out of work through an accident and is awaiting compensation.
WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM PROSPECTS FOR YOUR COMPANY?
Very good as accident management is an untapped market. We are hopeful that we can own the sector in Northern Ireland because of our head start and our decision to advertise on TV.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING YOUR ORGANISATION
Opposition from the insurance companies is the biggest challenge. This is, however, changing bit by bit as individual insurers are now realising that we are here to stay and are now beginning to use our services for their policyholders.
COULD THE GOVERNMENT HELP YOU TO DO BUSINESS BETTER?
Unusually for a growing business, we have no difficulties with legislation or red tape.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WORK FOR YOU?
My management style is that of a ‘benign democrat’ — that is I encourage professional development for all and operate a generous profit share scheme which makes everyone a team player. CRASH personnel are a contented bunch due to the extremely rewarding nature of the work. We help around 100 clients each week who contact us in either a state of confusion or trauma. Clients are relieved to talk to a supportive claims handler and we are often complimented on the service we offer people in stressful situations.
YOUR VIEWS ON THE ECONOMY, PLEASE
I am old enough to have experienced most of what is going on at present for the second or third time so I am laid back about the current predictions of doom and gloom. I am optimistic that Northern Ireland is going to get the boost forward in the next five years to catch up with the Republic as well as other European states.
THE BUSINESS CLIMATE — GOOD OR BAD?
Our sector is always steady, but is boosted by the number of vehicles on the roads and the miles travelled. Increasing fuel costs could be a factor in reducing these contributors, but then on the other hand accident managers have only penetrated about 15% of the available market.
WHAT AMBITIONS DO YOU HAVE ON A PERSONAL LEVEL?
The realistic ambition is to write a book of fiction based upon my family experiences. My story would be somewhere between a Frank McCourt experience and a Jeffrey Archer plot. Of course it w ould outsell both! The unrealistic ambition would be to get a |decent golf handicap.
WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
My wife Carmel and I travel as regularly as possible, although we also love being in our own home overlooking the estuary of the Clanrye River. My passion is local history. I am currently publishing the ‘Book of Newry’ which is due for release in the autumn.