Fleet News

New call to regulate contract hire brokers

CONTRACT hire brokers are tightening their grip on their existing customer base as the key to future success in the face of increasing competition for fleet business. But the competition could lead to a shake-up of the industry, leading players are claiming, as quality and standards of service take priority over simply obtaining the cheapest price for customers.

Paul Isaacs, managing director of Sky Fleet, deplored the increase in the number of what he termed 'bedroom brokers' and called for a recognised governing body capable of regulating brokers' activities. He said: 'There are so many of them around and the quality and level of services some offer is sketchy.'

Amanda Binner, Apple Vehicle Contracts managing director, said her group was shifting from broad contract hiring to personal contract purchase (PCP) to offer a wider level of service to companies. Binner said: 'A lot of companies now are offering cash allowances to their employees instead of a company car. We are ready to meet the needs of each individual by finding cost saving deals for them. To survive you need both the individuals and the large fleets.'

Simon Quick, managing director of Brooklands Group, which runs a fleet of 350 cars, said a campaign to build business had not proved cost effective and the firm was now focusing on its existing customer base. He added it was very difficult for many contract hire brokers to attract new customers because of the prevailing uncertainty in the market. Quick said: 'People are not sure whether new car prices will still fall further and finance companies are losing money on the cars they are selling. So they might decide to lower their residual value predictions to make up for the money they are losing, which could have a knock-on effect with contract hire rates going up.'

Nigel Smith, Easy Car Rental managing director, said: 'There are too many contract hire brokers around with little understanding of how the business works. Brokering is not just picking up a telephone or faxing potential customers about existing options. To survive in the years to come, a broker has got to look after his or her customers well by providing a personal and responsive service to them.'

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