“This is always the danger for independent or franchised garages, because fleets want a combination of quality and price,” says RMI chief executive Matthew Carrington.
“Fleet operators are an important part of the market for dealer groups but they must not abuse their relationship with the smaller ones. There have been examples of fleets forcing dealers to accept terms that their infrastructure cannot meet.
“A number of garages have come to the RMI to ask for help with these problems, and some businesses were eventually forced into bankruptcy.”
The RMI discusses fleet-related issues with the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Associations in regular meetings. “There is no conflict between garages and fleets,” says Carrington, “and we all have similar interests in the industry.”
Alan Pulham, RMI’s franchised dealers director, says: “The key issue in servicing relationships – especially with larger fleets – is often the level of administration dealers have to go through to get approval for certain jobs.”
Sarah Sillars, Institute of the Motor Industry chief executive, says of the aim for a better understanding between fleets and dealers: “Good communication is fundamental to a successful customer relationship, but it can be costly if it is poor. Implementing methods for improving communication should be the responsibility of all staff. It should be part of the business’s approach to continuing professional development.”