Fleets, leasing and rental companies, and franchise dealers are all expected to benefit from a new bid to bring quality, consistency and conformity to the UK vehicle delivery industry.
Some of the biggest names in the sector have joined forces to form the Association of Driven Vehicle Delivery Agents (ADVDA).
It is anticipated that 30 to 40 companies operating in the sector may be eligible for membership if they meet code of conduct standards.
The industry is responsible for more than one million vehicle movements a year and ADVDA founder members hope customers will view membership as a quality standard.
Matt Sirrell, chairman of the ADVDA’s steering committee and a partner at Intertechnic, which has operations in Cheshire and Northamptonshire handling more than 4,500 vehicle movements a month, said: “Too often the vehicle delivery sector is seen as a necessary evil and a cost.
“But it performs a hugely valuable service in collecting and delivering vehicles on behalf of organisations with drivers carrying out an ambassadorial role on behalf of customers whether they are leasing companies, dealers or another type of organisation.”
But, said Sirrell, ‘movement broker websites’ had appeared offering a cut-price service.
Highlighting that the service performed by many logistics companies, including other founders of the ADVDA such as DMN Logistics, Pro-Driver, Assured Group and Automotive Logistics, had been devalued, Sirrell said: “Many people consider vehicle movements an easy job. But we put a lot of effort into recruiting high-quality people who undertake a responsible job following professional training.”
Association key objectives include the use of vehicle handover and inspection software to ensure a consistent customer experience, working with the vehicle retail and leasing industries to ensure new vehicles are handed over to end-users in a quality and consistent manner, and a quality inspection of end-of-lease vehicles to ensure consistent damage capture.
John Pryor, chairman of ACFO, welcomed the association and its objectives.
He said: “The delivery of a new vehicle is getting more complicated because of its wide range of features. Some dealers are asking delivery drivers to spend an hour or more on the handover so it is important they are fully trained. It is not just a case of handing over the keys.”
Similarly, when a vehicle was collected at defleet time, Pryor said it was critical that drivers were fully trained.
“End-of-lease charges are a major issue for fleets and that starts with a collecting driver inspecting the vehicle so again the right level of training is important,” he added.
Sirrell said the organisation now planned to join both the BVRLA and the Trade Association Forum.
BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “We welcome any initiative to raise standards of professionalism within the automotive sector and look forward to talking and potentially working with it in the future.”
Stewart Lightbody, strategy and compliance manager, plant and transport, Anglian Water, said: “Anything that raises the professionalism and standards of any industry is to be welcomed as there are always rogue elements.”
He highlighted the unacceptability of unscrupulous drivers using third-party cars for their personal use and said it was vital that organisations operating in the sector had the correct training and insurances in place.
Lightbody added: “When I require such a service I use the same organisations that I have for many years as I trust them.
“Anyone who is undercutting the marketplace is cutting corners somewhere. When moving valuable assets, and in an age of duty of care, those organisations need to be eradicated.”
Sirrell said: “We hope the association will become the voice of the driven vehicle industry and that the standard of service delivery and the training of drivers will be a constant across association members.”
The association has been more than six months in the planning and Sirrell said: “Its creation has been overwhelmingly positive.
“But it must now start to make a difference and be of practical help to members and their customers.”
ADVDA membership costs £300 per year with founding members receiving two years membership for £500.
It is hoped in the future that leasing and rental companies and dealer groups will become ADVDA associate members.