Brokers, or leasing intermediaries as the BVRLA prefers to call them, often start their business with just one or two people.
Some stay that way, others grow into much larger organisations, often with regional set-ups but always striving to serve the same niche market, probably in the sub-50, or even sub-25 fleet size.
Some are single product companies offering contract hire and not much else, but today those are in the minority. More intermediaries now offer a full range of products that cover contract hire, finance leasing, even fleet management, and many are now also moving into the supply of short term rental.
OK, but if we’re calling them intermediaries what are they intermediary to?
In essence, they sit in the gap between the leasing company and the customer. They deal with customers who are difficult to identify unless you have the local knowledge, plus the will and the resource to find and convert them.
Such customers might include the local firm of solicitors or accountants with maybe half a dozen cars apiece or the local engineering company that needs three directors’ cars and a dozen more for the sales force.
Intermediaries are, compared to the industry itself, a relatively new development. They’ve flourished in the market by filling the gap left by the smaller contract hire companies who were bought out by their larger brethren.
They supply their service, and quite detailed service, to their customers while providing contract hire companies with a steady source of business.
And because they’re operating in niche markets they can of course tailor their service to the individual needs of their customers.
In reality it becomes that most desired of all states – a win, win, win situation. Customers win because they get what they need – face-to-face help and advice on the choice of both the vehicle and most competitive finance package available at the time in the marketplace.
Leasing companies win because they increase their business and intermediaries win because they can compete in a marketplace that would otherwise be completely out of their reach.
But standards of operation could be a problem. That’s why the BVRLA set up a new category of Membership for Leasing Intermediaries just over a year ago.
So far, 45 have qualified for membership – the standards we set are not to be lightly taken up. We demand adherence to a code of conduct specifically for intermediaries that sets out levels of behaviour that not all can reach. If an intermediary can reach the standard then it must be one worth doing business with.
But, and more significantly, the intermediaries who take up BVRLA membership can rely on the information, services and support that has helped the industry grow to the size and level of sophistication that it enjoys today.