It’s late, the traffic is bad and the kids are asking the perennial ‘are we there yet?’ Time to take a break. After filling up with fuel and picking up drinks and snacks, the final push for home can begin. And then it happens. As you pull away from the pumps, the car’s engine splutters, warning lights glow like Christmas decorations and suddenly you realise you’ve filled up with the wrong fuel. This is where Green Flag’s training kicks in.
Keith Lowey, group training manager at The Mansfield Group, a technical partner to Green Flag explains: “From the moment a customer contacts Green Flag, we are looking to get drivers safely to where they want to be. To do that we work our way through a customer checklist.”
That checklist is designed to help Green Flag plan the best possible response for each individual. Are they stranded in a dangerous position? Are there children or vulnerable people with the vehicle? “The term ‘vulnerable people’ covers a wide range of drivers and passengers, from young women travelling alone to a parent with very young children, the elderly, or drivers carrying someone with a disability or illness,” says Lowey.
The Mansfield Group, one of Europe’s largest roadside operators and a valuable partner of Green Flag, have highly trained deployment staff who receive the breakdown details from Green Flag. They are the people with the welcome voice at the end of the phone. Together with the nationwide team of highly skilled patrols, they are just one part of the roadside team who are trained to standards laid down by the Institute of Vehicle Recovery.
“Our job is to ensure they’re kept safe and get to where they’re going, no matter what”
They quickly build a picture of the severity of the situation. Lowey reveals that getting vital vehicle and journey information is harder than people imagine. “We have to be precise and gather all the facts. It’s no good dispatching a standard recovery technician and vehicle if the customer on the hard shoulder is towing a caravan”
This is where other forms of training are essential to Green Flag’s ability to respond to all breakdown situations. To get drivers to their destination throughout Britain and in some cases across Europe, Green Flag has a wide range of patrols, recovery technicians and recovery vehicles and equipment.
Lowey points to drivers filling their car with the wrong fuel. Unlike rival organisations, every Green Flag policy apart from its cheapest covers drivers for misfuelling. It has specialist vehicles to deal with incidents at the scene, and it has the added option of recovering drivers to one of its dedicated service centres where misfuelling can be safely dealt with.
Lowey says: “Like all deployment staff, the guys at the roadside are trained in road safety awareness and first aid, and evaluate the situation from a hazard perception perspective the moment they arrive at the scene.”
All patrols also undertake driver training appropriate to the vehicle they use. So if it’s a Green Flag van with a trailer, the driver will have passed the trailer test to upgrade their driving licence. “Not many people realise that it’s against the law to tow anything over 750kg if you haven’t passed the trailer test,” stresses Lowey.
Lowey says that The Mansfield Group and Green Flag have incentives in place to reward all deployment staff, but adds that ultimately, it’s the praise from customers that motivates everyone to go above and beyond the call of duty. “While the car is an important part of the process, it’s the driver and passengers that need our help. Our job is to ensure they’re kept safe and get to where they’re going, no matter what.”