Brand with a plan: How Vauxhall’s servicing initiative will benefit fleets
A new Vauxhall fleet initiative for servicing SME vehicles is to be welcomed. Curtis Hutchinson, editor of Motor Trader, reports.
Last year was a record breaking one for the new car market with over 2.6 million units registered. The subsequent year on year improvements means 2016 could be even bigger.
This is all very well in good years where genuine demand from retail and fleet customers is high and there is a hunger for new cars. However, what we’ve seen for the last five years is the market pushed more than ever as a result of the UK coming out of recession ahead of most west European economies.
This prompted car manufacturers to divert cars otherwise destined for left hand drive markets to the UK and underwrite some incredible finance deals to generate retail sales. The process worked, although it means each year dealers are collectively obliged to pre-register hundreds of thousands of new cars to hit their quarterly manufacturer targets. How they go about retailing these cars afterward is pretty much up to them, although the pressure is on to do so quickly but without heavy discounts which could impact residual values. Not an easy task.
So, in short, there’s an awful lot of pressure on dealers to shift metal yet the dealer margins on new retail cars are slim and have been for years; margins on cars sold to SMEs and local businesses are even thinner, leaving their used car forecourts, where they set the prices and margins, and aftersales to return a profit. The latter obviously has wider ramifications for fleets who depend on franchised workshops to maintain and repair their vehicles.
In recent months some car manufacturers have actually been pretty good at adapting to these new market dynamics and are delivering some welcome aftersales initiatives which should benefit SMEs across the country. Both Volkswagen and Mazda have focused heavily on delivering a better aftersales experience for their retail customers and dealers.
Vauxhall, however, has gone a step further with a welcome fleet initiative. At the end of April the brand launched a fleet aftersales programme aimed at reducing fleet running costs, simplifying the servicing process and driving work through its dealers’ workshops.
The company teamed up with EMaC, one the country’s leading independent service plan providers, to deliver what it claims is the first manufacturer-backed fleet service package to cover both cars and vans.
The Fleet Service Plan covers all routine servicing for vehicles in line with the brand’s recommended schedules. Extras such as brake fluid and cam belt changes are covered and prices are fixed for the duration of the plan, enabling fleets to better control their costs.
What makes the initiative particularly relevant to business customers is that vehicles are covered at any Vauxhall dealership in the UK, not just the local dealer that supplied the vehicle. In this scenario a driver based in Glasgow could book their next service in Birmingham to coincide with a meeting, thus minimising downtime.
At the same time Vauxhall also rolled out an extended warranty package for fleets, underwritten by Allianz Global Assistance, which provides cover for up to five years and 150,000 miles on cars and vans.
The warranty covers the cost of mechanical and electrical repairs or component changes and includes parts and labour and kicks in when the original warranty ends.
Vauxhall said most mechanical or electrical parts fitted to the vehicle are included in the warranty with no excess or hidden extras to pay for. The package also covers the cost of a replacement vehicle rental costing up to £50 per day and a contribution towards overnight accommodation or onward travel if it’s necessary as a result of a covered electrical or mechanical failure.
“Vauxhall’s new Fleet Service Plans and Warranties are built to ensure great value and a hassle-free aftersales experience,” said Paul Painter, Vauxhall’s fleet programmes and strategic channel manager.
“The flexibility of the plans and warranties allows Vauxhall’s fleet customers to customise them to their individual needs and requirements and both are supported by a network-wide service commitment, delivered in purpose-built facilities with a team of dedicated Vauxhall trained technicians.”
Vauxhall may well have hit a sweet spot for SMEs and it’s highly likely that other brands will roll out similar initiatives as they move to protect both their fleet customers and dealers.