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Toyota means business in fleet sector

Toyota has finished appointing its 90-strong UK Business Centre network after its research claimed no manufacturer was providing small car and commercial vehicle fleets with satisfactory service levels.

The damning results came from an independent mystery shop among fleets, contract hire companies and CV buyers. “Nobody does fleet service right, even though everyone professes to have a strategy,” says Peter Howarth, Toyota Business Centre and CV manager.

The network has been completed in just six months, with all centres offering 'fast track' solutions and specialist services to fleets, says Toyota. Each has extra workshop space and longer workshop hours, extended demonstrators and fleet service staff, and dedicated marketing facilities.

The carmaker claims the programme is already paying dividends – it is selling more commercial vehicles through the 90 Business Centres this year than it was selling through all 205 Toyota dealerships last year.

Nick Martin, general manager of London Toyota dealer JEMCA, says the strategy will boost profits for Business Centre retailers. “The bulk of our profits come from aftersales. Overall fleet business is profitable, but the real contribution comes from aftersales and add-ons,” he says. “Six months after we became a Business Centre, we are already benefiting from that extra contribution.”

Toyota's research showed that CV fleets in particular were being let down by poor service levels at UK dealerships. “No manufacturer offers a good CV experience,” says Howarth. “There is lack of specialist CV knowledge, poor product availability and complicated sales processes. The key attributes these business customers seek are dealer service, good brands, product quality and reliability.

“Although we were strong in product terms, in cost of ownership, and reliability, we lacked good dealer service for CV and small fleet customers. The research helped us design a programme to meet these needs.”

Six new regional managers will maintain the network for Toyota. Through the sites, they will be targeting small fleets in particular.

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