Fleet News

Fleets warned over non-franchise servicing

FLEET managers must ensure they are not penalised by their contract hire and leasing supplier companies if they try to cut costs by maintaining their own vehicles and using independent garages with lower labour rates, a fleet specialist is warning. Some fleet funders are either reducing the residual value of non-franchise-maintained vehicles and driving up the rental value as a result or recharging customers at the end of the contract, claims Tim Jones, commercial director of Bethell Fleet Services.

He told Fleet NewsNet: 'They argue that the resale value of the vehicle has been significantly reduced by not having it maintained at the manufacturer's own franchised outlet. But this is pure hypocrisy because many of those same funders use independent garages for with-maintenance contracts in order to reduce their own costs and maximise their profitability by not passing on the savings to their customers.'

Jones has already issued a call to action urging fleet managers to use selected independent garages to cut their fleet maintenance costs and increase service standards at the same time. 'I have spoken to a number of fleets who used independent garages to cuts costs and they were satisfied that through this process they were not only being economical, but also improving the service and repair of their vehicles,' he said.

'Their fleet funder, however, responded by arguing they had thereby reduced the value of the vehicle and charged them an excess based on the fact they considered the vehicle to be worth less than its forecasted residual value. They may have a point where a Rolls-Royce is concerned, but not with the majority of standard fleet vehicles. If this happens, the fleet manager should challenge that funder to provide them with a fixed-price maintenance contract which benefits from the reasonable labour rates and parts discounts offered by the best independent garages.'

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