One way to make sure the right provider is chosen is to ask specific questions during the tender process.
“Don’t ask general questions like ‘what’s your approach to green vehicles?’ or ‘tell us about your pricing policy’ because you will get broadly the same answers from leasing companies,” Jenner says.
“If you ask bog standard questions you will get bog standard answers and then how will you differentiate between the suppliers? Make sure the tender is specific to you and your requirements.”
Address specific points
Tim Muir, planning and resource manager at ECG Facilities Services, agrees: “When we were tendering we asked for very specific things that we wanted the providers to address at the interview.”
The key areas for Muir were fleet software, price, customer service and “how the new provider would manage the fleet on our behalf and take away a lot of the pain”.
Muir advises companies to get the new provider to “sign up to your conditions”. He says: “We had a carefully-worded document that Fleet Alliance signed up to and they’ve upheld every single part of it.”
Another way to lessen the risk is to have more than one leasing provider.
One fleet manager, who asked not to be named as they are in the process of switching, intends to use two to three suppliers rather than put all eggs in one basket.
Hard work is far from over
Once the new provider(s) has been chosen and the previous provider has been informed, the hard work is far from over.
It’s rare to transfer the existing vehicle leases to the new provider which leaves the fleet manager with two choices: either terminate the contracts early (and face a hefty bill – potentially several thousand pounds per vehicle), or keep them on until the end of the contract.
The latter choice could prove difficult, depending on the attitude of the outgoing provider, although more professional companies will not wish to burn bridges for the future – they might eventually have a chance to win the business back.
“If you lose a customer you should see it as potential opportunity in the future and manage things appropriately,” says David Currier, corporate relationship director at Lex Autolease. “But some providers will throw the keys away and do nothing to help.”
If the outgoing provider is obstructive there may be difficulties getting information.
However, Jenner says that, in theory, the transfer of data from the old provider’s software to the new provider’s should be relatively straightforward.