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Case Study: Unipart Automotive

Unipart Automotive is the UK’s largest independent supplier of car parts and workshop consumables, stocking over 1.8 million vehicle parts for all car makes and models. One of the most respected and trusted brands within the automotive industry, Unipart Automotive car parts offer excellent value for money for motorists.


Unipart Automotive implemented the TMC Expense Solution alongside TMC Audited Mileage Capture, with the aim of reducing its direct business expense by 15%-plus over the medium term and its mileage costs by 5%.

Processing efficiency improvements will add to the total saving delivered by the system for Unipart Automotive, which is the UK’s largest independent supplier of car parts and workshop consumables, with a reputation established over the last 40 years. The business operates about 1,200 commercial vehicles and company cars. A further 45 employees claim car allowances.

Prior to adopting the TMC solution, the employees used spreadsheets and paper forms to submit expense claims for mileage, accommodation and subsistence, and to record journeys. The system was almost impossible to audit and did not produce data that could be analysed or used to negotiate better terms with suppliers like hotel chains.

Proven Track Record

Andrew Gerrish, Projects Director at Unipart Automotive, said: “We evaluated alternative systems from several potential suppliers. We chose TMC because their expense solution offered us what we wanted and they also have a proven track record on fuel and mileage savings through TMC Mileage Audit.

“Some of the other systems offered us more bells and whistles in return for higher fees – but that would defeat the object, which is to bring down our expense costs.”

TMC captures and processes all expense claims from Unipart Automotive employees, who categorise each expense item as they enter claims. Previously, this task was done separately by Unipart Automotive’s finance department: a time-intensive additional step in the process.

Most of the company’s £5 million annual fuel spend is made on fuel cards. TMC takes a monthly data file from the fuel card company and processes the data alongside drivers’ reports to TMC Mileage Audit. At the end of each period TMC provides Unipart Automotive with a payroll file showing the appropriate private fuel deduction for each car driver. TMC also calculates fixed-rate fuel expense payments for around 45 car allowance drivers who use Pay-and-Reclaim ins

Expectations Fully Met

Andrew Gerrish said the implementation and operation of the TMC solution has fully met Unipart Automotive’s expectations.

“We wanted to move away from the old process quickly but we didn’t have a lot of resource at our end. TMC helped us by taking substantial data files from us and making sure everything was correctly set up when the solution went live. The few implementation issues we experienced were almost all at our end because it was a big cultural change for our staff,” he said.

“TMC are very responsive. They have done some development for us as the new arrangements have bedded-in. On communications, TMC’s user guide helped our staff get to grips with the solution quickly. They also worked with us to get out additional information on topics like expense categories and what is and what isn’t a VAT receipt.”

Compliance with the system is high. TMC automatically reminds users of cut-off dates and chases any who don’t close off their report in time. “If car drivers don’t submit their mileage return on time, the full amount on their fuel card is deducted from their salary. They only tend to do that once!” said Mr Gerrish.

Drivers Welcome TMC's App

Drivers have welcomed TMC’s advanced Mileage App for smartphones and tablets, which includes GPS-based postcode-to-postcode journey tracking. Unipart Automotive’s 60 business development managers, who must make 12-15 calls per day, use the app on their company iPads.

“It has gone down particularly well with them because it saves so much time when logging multiple trips every day,” said Mr Gerrish.

Unipart Automotive already has sufficient expense and mileage data under its belt to start investigating additional savings opportunities on top of those from moving to an audited platform.

Long Term Savings

“My previous experience of moving from a paper to an electronic process was that personal expenses go down by 10%, just because drivers know their claims can be scrutinised easily,” said Mr Gerrish. “Beyond that, we are now collecting data that we can use to negotiate deals with hotel chains and others.”

The amount of private fuel reimbursed by fuel card users typically increases by between 5% and 20% following implementation of TMC Mileage Audit. For Unipart, that could mean savings of around £250,000 a year.

“We are very happy with the decision to work with TMC,” said Mr Gerrish. “We cannot lose, even in the extremely unlikely event that none of the savings materialise, because TMC guarantee to return their fee unless there is a net saving after two years.”