Working with fleet customers demands a more consultative approach than ever before due to the complexity of the current fleet market. So says Richard James, Business Development Manager at CBVC Vehicle Management, who works with fleet customers operating from 2-60 vehicles, predominantly in the SME sector.
“Today’s fleet market is more complex than ever with new legislation surrounding emissions control, such as WLTP, and the growing trend towards electrification and the demise of diesel. All of these need careful consideration and deliberation to understand how they fit within existing and new fleet policies.
“But for many fleets today, based on the conversations I’m having with customers, the over-riding concern is the rising cost of Benefit-in-Kind tax bills associated with operating company cars and how this can be kept under control from both a company and a driver point of view,” says Richard who has been with CBVC for around three and a half years, in two separate stints.
“This has meant a much greater analysis and understanding of the new generation of alternative fuel vehicles coming onto the market – be they battery operated electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or petrol or diesel hybrids.
“In many cases, customers are looking to better understand the alternative fuel vehicle options that best suit their business and personal needs, which is where a consultative approach from us comes in,” he says.
One way that CBVC helps it customers get to grips with the current market complexity is through the development of bespoke, customised and branded portals which allow a company’s drivers to see online the range and type of vehicles that are available to them for their designated monthly lease rental.
“Through the online portal, drivers, who have their own personal log-in, can see at a glance what vehicles they are allowed within the fleet policy, what the CO2 emissions are and what the corresponding BIK rate for that vehicle is. Then, depending on their mileage requirements, they can order online the most suitable vehicle to meet their business needs,” says Richard.
“We then take over and handle everything from order to delivery to remove all of the hassle away from the customer so that they can concentrate on their core business activities,” he says.
If a driver is unsure about the exact nature of the vehicle he or she is interested in, CBVC will arrange a test drive of the vehicle in question so the driver can see whether it is suitable to meet their needs.
Currently, there is a lot of interest from drivers in hybrids, with models like the Toyota Corolla C-HR and the RAV4 being popular.
“This type of self-charging electric hybrid is proving to be popular as part of a life-style decision as drivers want new alternative fuel vehicles that look like conventional cars,” says Richard, who has been in the motor trade for around 20 years.
He has recently tested and evaluated the new all-electric Volkswagen e-Golf which he feels would be suitable for those drivers with a daily commute of around 50 miles. And with a 0% BIK rate, it also means a huge cut in those dreaded tax bills.
“With a commute of say 50 miles per day, drivers could do all-electric miles only and recharge the vehicle every other day. That would suit relatively low mileage drivers – I could see it working for me, for example. But if you were driving more than 100 miles a day each way or going out to see business customers regularly it may not be as appropriate as the recharging infrastructure is not yet widely available,” he says.
Richard said there was still little customer knowledge around the arrival of the new generation of RDE2 diesels onto the market, despite these vehicles offering low emissions, being exempt from the 4% diesel tax surcharge and providing comfortable, long range driving.
“The new generation of diesels are the cleanest ever and while there are still only a handful of models available, more manufacturers will be bringing in their own versions over the coming months. These may well be the answer for some of our high mileage clients and we will be doing our best to educate and guide our clients towards the best options available,” he says.
“Certainly the role has become more consultative than ever before with customers looking for advice and guidance on how to put together the fleet policy that best suits their, and their drivers’ needs, and this is something we are more than happy to provide.”
Outside the day job, Richard and his three sons, aged 16, 14 and 9, are all season ticket holders at Stoke City – formerly a seemingly integral part of the Premiership but now bottom of the Championship.
“However, we are not fair weather supporters and will follow them through thick and thin, until hopefully we see a revival in their fortunes,” he adds.
Like CBVC, it seems that the James family are in it for the long run!