Public sector fleets must be ruthless with their suppliers this year. It’s an approach I’ve had to take in the wake of budget cuts and things are only going to get tougher, particularly for local authorities who, from next year, are expected to be self-financing rather than benefiting from a central Government grant.
We all know that things like end-of-contract damage charges, early terminations and administration fees for processing fines can be a source of additional income for suppliers, but I’ve told my vehicle provider I won’t accept these any more.
I’ll pay a parking fine, but not a £35 admin charge. I want the flexibility to return a vehicle early without penalty and I’ve agreed it works both ways – my provider can also take a vehicle back sooner to achieve a higher resale value.
I will ensure the vehicles remain in good condition but I will not pay an end-of-contract damage charge.
I’m being more robust with commercial vehicle manufacturers, too, by asking them to stand by the quality of their products. A lot of heavy goods vehicles’ standard terms are still one-year warranty and I’ve negotiated up to five-year warranty terms with an additional premium.
Does this approach ultimately lead to less choice? Well, some suppliers have walked away from tenders, but they are missing out on a customer who will pay them without fail. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come back next time. Don’t be scared to be demanding.