Ensuring the entire tender exercise is beneficial to the business, service delivery must be measured and managed throughout the duration of the contract.
Crucial to ensuring tip-top delivery is to have service level agreements (SLAs) in place that both parties are happy with supported by key performance indicators (KPIs), performance standards and processes that measure quality, driver satisfaction, competence, price and other potential issues.
Constant feedback should be sought from drivers and internal stakeholders that is fed back to the supplier.
The objective is to monitor and rate their performance, developing their service and aiming for continual improvement.
While SLAs and KPIs need to be ‘reasonable’ on both sides, they also need to have teeth and sanctions for failures to perform to agreed standards.
“If supplier and client are to work together then it is about working hand-in-hand and alongside each other to achieve solutions,” says Ross Jackson, managing director of Fleet Operations.
“It should not be a supplier versus client relationship with penalty clauses in place. That is not a partnership.”
In fact, the conclusion of the tender process marks, some would argue, the start of the hard work for fleet decision-makers as they grapple with the implementation process.
Mark Cubbon, sales director at ING Car Lease, says: “Too much focus can be given to the beauty parade element of the tender process, which often leaves a yawning gap when it comes to actual deliverables.
"A robust implementation plan is key to successful fleet management, with clear measures agreed in terms of action and specific KPIs.”
Post-tender reviews should be regularly undertaken involving all the key stakeholders.
Gary Killeen, fleet services commercial director for GE Capital UK, believes a good starting point is to sit down with the supplier to draw up a clearly defined plan that covers both the pre- and post-contract periods, ensuring a realistic timetable and an effective resourcing plan are in place to meet stated objectives while retaining flexibility.
He says: “It is important to find the right rhythm of reviewing and reporting by the supplier, carefully separating operational contact from structured fleet reviews.
“The former ensures that the contract works on a day-to-day basis while the latter should ensure that the goals and targets are being met, with the results being achieved by the supplier presented in accurate and credible reports.”
By undertaking regular strategic account reviews, businesses can generate the rapport that ensures the contract continues to evolve over its lifetime.
It is important for fleets to encourage their supplier partners to come up with new ideas, concepts and services that deliver over and above the original contract.
These become a crucial part of the relationship because it is here that both customer and supplier have the opportunity to exceed expectations.
Such a strategic evolution of the account could be prompted by many different factors, such as changing fleet needs that were not foreseen when the contract was drawn up.
Overall, Killeen says: “What a business should aim to achieve is not just to experience excellent service within the bounds of the contract, but to encourage their supplier to use all the skills and tools at their disposal to add value to the fleet operations over the length of the contract.”
SLAs should be a key part of the selection criteria, according to Julie Boyd, chairman of ACFO’s Midland region and MD of TR Fleet.
“I want SLAs to be bespoke to an individual client. However, nine times out of 10 I get standard SLAs.
"I also want to see how companies’ SLAs operate in practice so during the tender process I will ask for their responses to live scenarios.”
But don’t simply take the word of suppliers that they can meet specified SLAs and KPIs.