For fleets to operate efficiently and effectively, they need the support of good suppliers.
These range from manufacturers, which provide the essential metal that keeps employees on the road, to funding suppliers, to maintenance companies, tyre providers and a host of businesses offering ancilliary support.
Tendering plays a vital role in ensuring that fleets and this small army of suppliers are a good match, as it allows companies to formally compare the key attributes of a range of third-party companies and accurately choose which one is the best for their business.
When the process is carried out correctly, it can generate cost savings for the fleet and secure higher service levels, backed by a stronger working relationship between fleet and supplier.
To ensure success, most tender processes need to follow a broadly similar process, beginning with a
clear review of the needs of the company, driven by wide-ranging consultation.
This could then feed through to the tender process, which would focus on the ability of potential suppliers to meet the fleet’s needs cost effectively and form a partnership in the long-term.
Arco assessed nearly a dozen suppliers when it reviewed its fleet supplier requirements, culminating in the appointment of fleet management firm CLM.
Arco is a leading supplier of personal protective equipment, workwear and workplace safety products and runs more than 300 vehicles, the majority of which are cars.
It reviewed 11 prospective suppliers, both market leaders and smaller organisations offering more diverse services.
The intention was to find the best fit with regard to service provision and the most competitive supplier from a cost point of view.
Arco decided that CLM struck a good balance between meeting its cost objectives and offering personal service levels that were important to the company.
Northern Gas Networks also prioritised service levels and a close working relationship when it issued an important tender for an outsourced supplier to manage its fleet of more than 500 vehicles.
It selected Fleet Technique based on the firm’s ability to provide service levels which were capable of supporting the utilities firm as it supplied gas to 2.6 million customers across the north of England.
Among the challenges that have already been met was a short notice request for a fleet of 4x4s to ensure service delivery continued to customers during harsh winter weather at the start of this year.
A key aspect of delivering a successful tender is securing the feedback of a large range of stakeholders within the business.
It can be a challenge to manage diaries, arrange meetings and obtain clear, considered views from all stakeholders, but it is critical to gaining a clear understanding of the needs of the business.
Sewells Research & Insight has carried out detailed interviews with some of the largest fleets in the UK to understand their decision-making processes.
The research shows that there can be more than a dozen potential stakeholders in decision-making, ranging from the managing director and finance director, through to HR, legal, accounts, operations and, in some cases, drivers.
Each of these can play an important part in developing a tender document to ensure that the wider needs of the business are met in delivering improved services or products in a cost-effective way.