Keeping a fleet eye on Government policies
I’M WRITING with reference to the question from Chris Davies about the EU parliament’s fleet CO2 emissions not matching the targets they give carmakers (Fleet News, September 14).
Isn’t it about time that publications such as Fleet News, along with organisations such as the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), should be actively campaigning on behalf of the UK fleet industry?
Let’s see campaigning to ensure the UK Government is not acting in a similarly contradictory manner to the EU, and if they are, then the impositions being placed on UK businesses should be more even-handed.
Managing director, Applewood Vehicle Finance
Whip-hand attitude not the way forward
AS indicated in last week’s lead article ‘Tougher times force suppliers to raise game’ (Fleet News, September 14), the trend for outsourcing has spiked and is now maturing.
As a consequence of this boom, it has been evident that some providers have struggled to meet the requirements of their customers, which has inevitably impacted on the reputation of the sector.
However, despite a predicted slowdown there are still growth opportunities for those suppliers who have proven that they can deliver the rigorous service and commercial, business-focused expertise that organisations rightly expect.
In response to the debate about whether the future lies in focusing on service levels or niche offerings, the two simply cannot be separated.
Providers must focus their entire end-to-end operations on all elements of the customer offering, from the services they offer through to all aspects of operations and delivery.
Forward-thinking outsourced providers have already realised that growth will be achieved by working with customers to understand their commercial objectives, challenges and environment.
It is a natural fit due to the increasingly strategic role of fleet and the value that effective fleet management companies can contribute towards the efficiency and profitability of their customers’ businesses.
Fleet management companies need to have the knowledge and understanding to communicate on this level. They must have an appreciation of how they can help their customers grow their businesses. And, as fleet becomes embraced by more issues and corporate legislation, there is the opportunity to tap into this to provide offerings that go beyond the conventional and incorporates specialist services.
Obviously, these must be supported by robust customer service operations to deliver on their promises.
The attitude that customers will hold the ‘whip hand’ over suppliers during a downturn is damaging to both parties and also the long-term health of the industry.
Both fleet managers and providers must work in partnership. And, by delivering tangible results supported by high service standards, providers will be able to retain and develop existing clients and attract new customers.
Inevitably, there will be some providers who will not have the ability or infrastructure to step up to the mark. For those, industry benchmarks should be welcomed to provide guidance. However, for those who are working consultatively and can exceed expectations beyond bare guidelines, the industry is ripe with opportunity.
Managing director, FMG Support
Sharing the service vision
YOUR article on tougher times forcing suppliers to raise their game (Fleet News, September 14) was interesting, but I would like to raise a few additional points based on experience.
Very often the vision of a managing director is very different to the employee on the shop-floor delivering the service.
Although the report suggests that fleet management companies will be forced to ‘adopt successful customer retention strategies’, I believe many will try to adopt successful cash-saving tactics.
While a company enjoys a period of successful growth it may be willing to have an open debate about disputed invoices but when the money dries up, although the MD will still talk about customer service, his cost-cutting message will have to be interpreted by his team.
The open debate about bills ends and there is an insistence on paying up. As employees jump ship and aren’t replaced, key contacts become less well-informed and mistakes creep in.
The staff at some companies I have dealt with seem to have given up. The MD promises change and to drive the team forward, but he can’t generate the same enthusiasm in his staff.
While I agree fleet managers could try to drive up service levels in suppliers, many will have a very hard time succeeding.
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