Fleet decision-makers should share knowledge and strategy to get better deals from suppliers, says Pete Bell (pictured), senior category manager at Centrica.
Speaking at the Fleet200 Executive Club meeting at St Anne’s Manor, Bracknell, Bell said he rarely sees fleets influencing marketplace practices together or en masse.
“I really feel suppliers are getting a slightly easy ride and fleets could do a lot more knowledge sharing and sharing of strategy when there are shared objectives,” he said.
“If you have a common need, or a common specification for something, why wouldn’t you source that together or go in together on development costs or something?
“I don’t see that going on so much at fleet level. I think we are seeing that hugely as a trend in automotive manufacturing at the very top with the Volkswagen Group and Ford being a great example in terms of collaborating on alternative fuel vehicle research and development costs, but I really think fleets can do a little bit more.”
This may mean fleet decision-makers need to work more closely with their procurement team or learn relevant skills themselves.
“The fleet industry in general has a bit of a tendency to be very protective over what it does and one point I would love to get across is that it is important to invite this kind of good practice into your business, welcome it and don’t, at the first suggestion of something a bit different or radical, immediately accuse the individual of wanting to take over the fleet,” said Bell.
“That’s not what good supply chain practice is. Your experience and expertise is absolutely vital to good procurement and we must work together if we really want to succeed.”
Bell recommends fleet professionals learn procurement skills to broaden their skillsets.
One way to do this is through the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), of which he is an exam assessor.
“The course is really modular, you can choose to go to university but you don’t have to.
"It can be studied by distance, you order this study pack online and sign up for the exam, and it would be of great value to your fleet and your business.
“I see huge potential in organisations like ICFM and ACFO, they are clearly doing loads to reach out to broaden skillsets and mindsets in this area, and I encourage more interaction with them.”
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