What makes an excellent warranty company? The Motor Ombudsman recently interviewed our CEO John Colinswood to find out about his role, why WSG is proud to be different and how we’re committed to driving up standards for our customers.
They also discussed John’s charity which supports bereaved families following child loss. Due to the sensitive nature of this subject, please be aware it contains content that some readers may find upsetting.
TMO: What sparked your interest to work in the motor industry?
JC: I’ve been in the motor industry for over 50 years now, so it’s been a huge part of my life. I started off as a tyre fitter in 1971, and then worked as an AA Patrolman for a few years. I later became a Sales Executive for a local dealership, but realised I wasn’t any good at selling!
In the 80’s, someone I knew was setting up a warranty company and approached me as they needed an agent to build up the business in my area, which I accepted. My first commission payment was just £5! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the job and gradually moved into different areas of the business.
After several years, I decided to set up my own warranty firm with my co-founder, which we later sold in the early 90’s.
We reunited in 2003 – this time with a third director, and decided to do it all over again. The three of us formed another warranty company, and over a period of 17 years, we grew it into a top three UK warranty provider which employed 100 people. We sold that business around three years ago, and were able to finally retire. However, retirement didn’t last long for me!
Last year, when WSG was looking for investment to further its aims, the two founding directors offered me the opportunity to purchase shares and join the business as CEO and chairman. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
TMO: As CEO of WSG, what does your role involve, and what is a typical day for you?
JC: In short, I’m responsible for the overall management of WSG’s operations and resources to make sure the company runs smoothly, meets its goals and continues operating profitably. The main aspects of my role are to develop and shape the business strategy in collaboration with our six other directors, review financial reports and make major decisions where required, advise the Board, and identify new opportunities for growth.
Every day is different, especially at the moment, as there is a vast amount happening. The company continues to grow rapidly as more and more dealers are coming on board, so we’re having to expand our team to keep up with the demand. It’s a great problem to have though!
TMO: How does WSG set itself apart from the competition in terms of the products and services it provides to motorists?
JC: In the past, warranty products generally carried a negative reputation, largely because of their contentious wording, vast number of exclusions and poor claims handling.
When our two founding directors formed WSG, they saw an opportunity to shake up the market and raise the bar for consumers. Their main objective was to provide an outstanding customer experience and products that did exactly what they promised, which we have achieved.
Everything we do is geared around the motorist. From our warranty plans that only exclude the bare minimum number of parts, and the simple language we use, to our fast, fuss-free claims service, we go the extra mile to make sure customers receive the premium experience they deserve.
Right from the offset, WSG’s mission has been to be the best warranty company in the motor industry, and that will never change. We’re committed to driving up standards and making sure customers receive the very best support during their vehicle ownership.
TMO: How do you ensure that high standards of service are delivered across WSG at all times?
JC: It all starts with our people – they’re the faces and voices of the company, and our most important assets. We invest in finding the right talent – skilled people who share our values and vision – and then we train, nurture and empower them so they have all of the skills needed to serve our customers to the highest standards.
Every month, we hold monthly Customer Committee meetings to make sure WSG continues to ‘get it right’ for our customers. We study any suggestions or complaints that may have come in, along with any difficulties experienced by our customers or team, and work together to find appropriate solutions.
We’re incredibly proud to be a five-star rated business on Google and Trustpilot, which is testament to the products and service we provide.
TMO: What do you see as the key trends in the vehicle warranty sector for 2023?
JC: Drivers are keeping their vehicles for longer with the cost of living crisis and, as a result, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of 24 and 36 month warranties being sold over recent months.
We’re also seeing strong demand for our pay-as-you-go warranty that we launched in January with a select number of dealers. Just like with Netflix or Amazon Prime, this product offers the customer a simple rolling subscription for a low-cost monthly payment that can be cancelled at any time. If the customer sells their vehicle, they can even transfer the warranty to their new one. Cover simply continues until they decide it’s no longer required.
Electric vehicles are starting to become more prominent in the used car market now too, so we are expecting the industry to see an uplift in the sale of EV warranties.
TMO: What are the main areas of focus for WSG during the coming months?
JC: With all of the new dealers joining us, various product launches, and lots of exciting new added-value services coming this year, we are anticipating a further 200% growth over the next 12 months alone.
It’s incredibly exciting, but also nail-biting! The company has achieved so many fantastic things in such a short space of time. WSG has only been going two years, and we’ve already won several prestigious awards. We’ve grown from just three people to a company of 60 across two offices, and work with over 1,000 motor dealers of varying sizes. Our main focus is to make sure the growth continues to be sustainable by having the resources in place, and that we don’t drop the ball for our customers!
TMO: Ben Collins, the former Top Gear Stig, is your Brand Ambassador. What does his remit involve?
Ben endorses our car and LCV warranties under four of our brands. He’s not only one of the best drivers in the world, but a brilliant motoring icon and influencer too, with a huge following. His endorsement reinforces the quality of the products and services that we offer.
We use his imagery on our materials which is a great selling point, especially for fans of the Top Gear TV show – it helps our dealers to stand out from others and creates a more memorable vehicle buying experience for their customers.
He makes guest appearances at our events too, where he meets & greets customers and gets stuck into the action. Dealers offering our warranty products even have the option of creating personalised messages for their customers or hiring him for their own events.
We’re also working with Ben behind the scenes to create lots of exciting content for our blogs, social media and other communications. He’s a fascinating character with so many stories to tell and we can’t wait to share some of them with our followers!
TMO: What were the main reasons for WSG becoming accredited to The Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Warranty Products Code in 2022?
JC: The main reason for becoming accredited was to provide our customers with added protection under The Motor Ombudsman’s Vehicle Warranty Products Code, and to give them access to an independent dispute resolution service, should they ever be unsatisfied with our decision on their claim.
Warranty claims aren’t always clear cut however, and sometimes things can get a little tricky. Thankfully those instances are few and far between, but if it does happen and a customer wants to escalate a complaint, we can refer them to TMO, which uses their expert judgement and legal knowledge to find a fair and equitable solution.
TMO: Tell us about your charity, The Children’s Memorial Garden. Who does it support?
JC: The Children’s Memorial Garden is a private memorial garden in the heart of Buckinghamshire that exists solely to support bereaved parents and families following child loss. It is also WSG’s charity partner. Anyone who has suffered the loss of a child can use it, regardless of their child’s age at the time. In 2022, we also started growing produce on the surrounding land, which we donate to local foodbanks and refuges.
The idea for the Garden came about back in 2014 after realising that several friends whose children had died, had neither a special place to go specifically, nor received the support they’d needed. I’d seen firsthand the devastating impact on their lives, and knew I wanted to be able to help them and other bereaved families in some way. This was my chance to be able to give something back and make a meaningful difference.
Our mission is to offer a beautiful environment for families and friends to grieve in peace, commemorate their loved one, and receive the emotional and physical help that they may need. We also work closely with several other charities to raise awareness of child mortality factors and prevention methods, as well as bringing bereft families together so they can find hope, comfort and friendship.
TMO: What are your main interests and hobbies when you’re not in the office?
JC: I don’t have a huge amount of spare time these days, but when the opportunity arises, I do enjoy watching motorsport, travelling, watching the rugby, and taking my two German Shepherds for long runs in the countryside!
TMO: Thank you for your time John, and it has been a pleasure talking to you.
Interview conducted in March 2023.
Warranty Solutions Group is proudly accredited to The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Warranty Products, which means we subscribe to a comprehensive set of standards over and above those required by law.
The Motor Ombudsman is the UK’s only fully impartial dispute resolution body dedicated to the automotive sector. Through its Trading Standards-approved Codes of Practice, TMO is committed to driving up industry standards, offering clear-cut customer service expectations and resolving disputes if things go wrong.