It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Mediafleet won our Customer Service award. When clients are describing you as “a very professional, responsive, and reliable supplier” and praising your “no-nonsense attitude”, you’re on the right track.

Founded in 2002, it is a vehicle branding and livery specialist at heart and distinguished itself with its creative agency experience early on. That gave it a unique approach to vehicle branding centred on the clout of the message and rendered it a cut above the ‘we just do the fitting’ competition.

Things stepped up a gear in 2017 when current managing director Barnaby Smith took the helm and launched an entirely new business strategy centred on proactive customer service.

The industry-standard approach typically positions customer service as a support function – something administered in a reactive capacity and as a response to queries and complaints. Mediafleet has effectively flipped this on its head, and its strategy is that doing a good job and fulfilling promises take precedence over all else. Hands-on, pre-emptive customer service initiatives have been applied to every stage at which clients interact with the company, underpinning its core ethos and growth.

It claims to be the only vehicle branding company with a full scope of service, starting with its in-house creative department. The designers’ level of experience is such that they can guide fleets through their livery design – even if they’re unsure about exactly how they’d like the graphics to appear on their vehicles – and develop innovative and impactful messages and styles.

Then there is the 40,000sqft production facility at its Witney headquarters, which has capacity for up to 350 vehicles and the flexibility to meet large, last-minute demands from customers of all types. It runs one nine-to-five shift from Monday to Friday as standard but can increase that to three shifts and 24-hour operation if required. The company’s quick-turnaround scaling abilities are perhaps best illustrated by Europcar, which can send it three-figure requests for vehicle graphics at very short notice.

“In some cases, the lead time available to Mediafleet can be as short as one week, but they are still able to deliver over 200 kits per week without issue. Mediafleet continues to meet our demanding schedule and have a faultless track record,” explains Europcar’s UK Commercial Fleet Team.

Uniquely, Mediafleet operates a 20-plus team of directly employed, well-trained and in-house vinyl applicators, and recruitment is underway to add more. Having employees on the payroll differs from the industry norm of employing subcontractors and affords the company full control over the quality of its services. It still uses subcontractors during periods of exceptional demand, but they are always accompanied by an in-house colleague to ensure the level of service and standard or application. 

The firm also counts a class 1 HGV driver among its ranks, allowing it to move and work on heavy vehicles. Mediafleet has authorisation to conduct work in certain UK ports, which permits its logistics team to collect imported vehicles directly from the docks and apply the branding there and then or transport the vehicles back to base, then move them to their final destination fully branded – all of which slashes lead times to the bare minimum. 

Its existing premises is due to grow this year, when the company expands into the adjacent site on its industrial estate. The move will make way for a new top-of-the-range HP printer and additional staff in the customer, technical and print teams, increasing capacity by 25%. 

The final element of the full scope of service is aftersales, which is designed to minimise vehicle-off-road time. The firm states that it will repair any of its graphics on a customer’s vehicle if they are damaged when it is involved in an accident, anywhere in the country, within 72 hours of first notification. Spare graphics are held in stock to cover such eventualities. 

All of the above, and more, is crystalised in the organisation’s service level agreement. This details exactly what customers can expect from Mediafleet and explains how and when it will carry out the work.

Its customer service ethos also extends to project planning. Rarely considered a service touchpoint in any industry, Mediafleet has adopted it into the planning phase by asking clients about their growth plans at the beginning of a project. That information then informs the work at every subsequent stage, ensuring customers get the most bang for their buck out of their vehicle marketing, and that it progresses in tandem with their aspirations. 

Much emphasis is placed on customer feedback, and the company actively solicits clients’ thoughts and opinions about its work, to allow it to react accordingly and fine-tune its practices.

It also offers prototyping – a rarity among other livery providers. Graphics can be designed, printed and modelled on a physical vehicle before the project commences so customers can see precisely what the finished product will look like, and tweak and refine the designs accordingly. 

The firm applied this process to a project with energy company SSE and developed it to a detailed set of specifications.

“The Mediafleet artwork team worked closely with our agency to take what was essentially a 2D graphic and create a 3D brand that would meet the exacting standards,” explains SSE’s Gemma Trew, “not only was this process seamless but the graphics had to be guaranteed to work on all vehicle types. My decision to work so closely with Mediafleet through this process has reinforced our brand – the vehicles are smart and recognisable and ‘work’ on all vehicle types.”

Supply chain integration is another core part of the firm’s operation. The business is set up to work with third parties anywhere within a customer’s supply chain. Its philosophy is that it should never a problem for a third party to deal with Mediafleet, and that the company’s technology, systems and management style are sufficiently flexible and adaptable that they can align with those of other organisations – an approach that has seen it become the preferred supplier for a wealth of large, long-term customers. Among them are energy companies SSE and E.ON (customers for 15 and 19 years respectively), vehicle rental company Europcar (11 years), leasing company Lex Autolease (20 years), and engineering firm Babcock (16 years).

Above all, the idea is that customers know they can trust Mediafleet to get the job done in full, on time, and within budget, every single time – even with the tightest and most daunting of briefs. 

One of the best examples of this is the firm’s work with National Grid in 2022, which is among its largest scale projects to date, and presented an immensely tight deadline. The acquisition of Western Power Distribution (WPD) by National Grid in 2021 necessitated a rebrand, which included the 3,000-plus vehicle fleet.

Mediafleet had an existing relationship with WPD, so when transport manager Christopher Mayell and fleet technical specialist Jane Nicholson, initiated discussions, the conversation was focused on delivering uniform branding across the entire field-based fleet. 

The firm worked closely with National Grid’s creative agency to ensure the vehicle graphics were as impactful as possible and, in July 2022, it began manufacturing the graphics for the launch and roll out.

At the same time, detailed project discussions commenced to understand how 3,141 vehicles could be rebranded in four months, the solution to which was dividing the two companies’ management teams into five zones and 33 workshop locations. A schedule was drawn up for depot managers to tell drivers where they needed to be and when, for a ‘rebrand while you wait’ scenario. Five months later, every single vehicle on the fleet was sporting its new graphics.

“Apart from a few pieces of equipment outstanding at the time, the project was completed according to the schedule and was a complete success,” explains MD, Barnaby Smith, “there were definitely some sleepless nights, but I have complete faith in the team here at Mediafleet to deliver any project on time and in full. The National Grid team demonstrated utter professionalism at all times, and managed the flow through of vehicles and drivers with what seemed like simplicity itself – which it certainly wasn’t.”

The firm’s customer-centric strategy has worked economically, as well as in practice. Along with its expansion this year, its revenue increased by 20% in 2020/21, by 21% in 2021/22, and by 51% in 2022/23. 

You could call it old fashioned, or you call it visionary; either way, top-notch customer service is clearly a recipe for success and, in this case, a well-deserved award win.