Dealer representatives and the fleet industry were at loggerheads over service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs at the Fleet News Industry Briefing over claims that franchised dealers would ‘price match’ against independents and fast fits.
Sue Robinson, franchise dealer director at the Retail Motor Industry Federation, suggested franchised dealers represented good value for fleets and were prepared to match cheaper rivals on price.
However, Roddy Graham, chairman of the Institute of Car Fleet Management, suggested franchise dealers do not provide good value for fleet operators.
“Value is most important for fleets and value is a blend of different factors,” he said. “Most fleets understand the difficulties faced by the manufacturers, but we often find the franchise dealer network is shown a clean pair of heels by good independents.
“It used to be the case years ago that we would even have tyres changed by franchise dealers, then fast fits took over because they did a better job.”
Robinson said: “Dealers in many cases are the first to recognise perhaps in the past that they have fallen short of expectations and they are trying to address that.”
Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, pointed out that the franchise dealer network has provided a good training ground for independent dealers, and to ignore franchise dealers would put future training programmes in jeopardy.