Fleet News

Dealers hit back in fleet campaign

CAR dealers are calling on the fleet industry to recognise the pressures they are under and the work they do to provide high levels of service to the fleet industry.

The comments have been made to Fleet News' sister title AM, which launched a Fair Fleet Campaign following the launch of the Fleet News Fair Dealer campaign that urged garages to give fleets better service levels.

Nidd Vale commercial director Paul Stokes told AM: 'The biggest bugbear with fleet servicing is usually cash-flow. Dealers have to wait three or four weeks for payment from fleets, whereas retail customers have to pay before getting their car back.'

And Chris Barry, joint managing director of Staffordshire-based Greenhaus Group, said on too many occasions fleet customers unfairly expect retail dealers to sort things out 'at the drop of a hat'.

He said: 'Fleet operators tend to want retail dealers to drop everything and sort them out straight away. We try to prevent a problem becoming a crisis and realise getting company car users mobile is essential. If no courtesy car is available, then we offer a daily rental car at a special price.'

And in response to one comment from a fleet manager who said that main dealers were a 'licence to print money', Arnold Clarke Automobiles group managing director Eddie Hawthorn said: 'I'd like to know which car retailers are a licence to print money, then I could apply for the licence.'

Giving his view, Roger Knight, chief executive of dealer group Marshall, said: 'Service rates for fleets are lower than for retail customers. We are closely managing our relationship with fleet customers following a series of meetings with some of the major ones.

'Generally, we are not unhappy but some are better than others. Most of our service customers are retail and they tend to be more loyal than fleet companies.

'Some fleet people say one thing and do another. They get us to commit to a low servicing price based on volume and then fail to provide the agreed number of vehicles.

'We rarely have disputes about individual charges, but I would expect to if they were unreasonable.'

Fair Dealer – the background

FLEET NEWS launched its Fair Dealer campaign in June to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly among their dealer suppliers when it comes to servicing.

The newspaper is campaigning to improve dealer service levels for fleets and company car drivers following a series of damning reports about standards.

The Fair Dealer campaign highlights best practice and condemns unacceptable service to push for a better deal from dealers.

Sister-title AM, in its Fair Fleet, Fair Pay Charter, part of its own campaign, says that most of the problems are caused by a lack of understanding of the pressures on the business partner.

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