The fleet industry is evolving at an ever-increasing pace. The breadth and depth of vehicle selection is amazing, and the technologies available for managing your fleet are just as impressive. The fleet management companies, the telematics providers, the fuel card providers, and the vehicle manufacturers themselves are all doing incredible things to make our industry more efficient, more effective, and safer for drivers and for everyone else on the road. But the one area that hasn’t evolved and never seems to improve is the actual vehicle delivery process. It would seem to be the easiest part of the whole business, but it is the one area that everyone struggles with.
We have incredibly efficient new vehicles that can communicate through satellites and provide up to the minute, state-of-the-art data about the functions of every new car and truck. But the industry still struggles with the whole process of turning over a set of keys to a new driver and explaining how his or her new car works. Or, in some cases, telling that driver where his or her car is actually located on the lot.
I had the honor of visiting The Thompson Group at Classic Chevrolet in Dallas. The Thompson Group is the picture of a well-run state-of-the-art fleet dealer. They have an ocean of work-ready vehicles, they have dedicated fleet service bays, dedicated fleet sales managers, and even a dedicated fleet finance department. But even at this state-of-the-art facility it seemed like deliveries, particularly courtesy deliveries, were a challenge.
Courtesy deliveries are a challenge at two levels for most dealers. First, they have a great deal of respect for each other and try not to poach commercial customers. Secondly, courtesy deliveries are not a source of significant revenue and are seen as more of an aggravation for most dealers. We could change the whole process if dealers and fleet managers could come to a better understanding of this process. A courtesy delivery shouldn’t be seen as a one-time exposure to another dealer’s customer. It should be seen as an opportunity to impress a potential new customer, a potential service customer, and a member of the local community who probably has another car or two in the driveway at home. If that ordering dealer is in Miami and the car is being delivered in Seattle, chances are pretty good that the car isn’t going to be serviced in Florida. It’s being delivered in Seattle because that’s where the driver is located and that’s where the vehicle is needed.
The process is further challenged by the extreme focus on low cost by the fleet management companies, the OEMs, and the fleets themselves. Rather than looking for a nearby dealer with the best record for service, most participants in this process would sell out the driver and sacrifice a good experience to save $5 with the cheapest alternative. This makes for unhappy drivers, inefficient deliveries, and a poor customer experience. Most of the OEMs have a solid base of experienced fleet dealers that have made a commitment to a minimum level of service for commercial customers. Do your drivers a favor, and spend some time focusing on finding those dealers and making sure your suppliers use those dealers. Your drivers will appreciate it.
If you disagree, let me know.