Q&A: Crown Commercial Service’s Tammy Carter on new services for public sector fleets
Tammy Carter, head of category – fleet at Crown Commercial Service, speaks to Fleet World on her fleet background and CCS’s work to support fleets.
Could you talk about your background before you moved to CCS, and how it helped with the challenges that public sector fleets currently face?
Prior to joining CCS in August 201, I worked at Mouchel Group PLC, a business services company who supported the management of road networks, public buildings, rail infrastructure, homes, schools and utilities, on behalf of the public and private sectors.
Alongside my commercial role, I also headed up the fleet team with responsibility for a fleet of 1,500 vehicles, consisting of both operational vehicles and company cars
Working within Mouchel provided me with an insight into public sector operations and their ways of working, including the procurement regulations and political influences they operate under.
My experience of managing a diverse and complex fleet has helped me to appreciate and understand the challenges our customers, at CCS, face.
The need to ensure that vehicles are fit for purpose, as well as delivering value for money instilled in me the importance of understanding the total cost of ownership. I also recognise the complexity of internal stakeholders’ engagement with the key links into Finance, HR, Health & Safety and Sustainability teams across an organisation.
Being involved in the fleet industry for over 25 years has provided me with great links and contacts into the industry. I’ve been able to continue to build on these relationships and use this market insight to ensure that our fleet strategies and solutions are fit for purpose and support the diverse public sector fleets.
How many public sector fleets do you work with and what type of fleets do you cover?
We work with over 2,800 customers whose combined fleet comprises around 125,000 vehicles. Replacement cycles mean that over 32,000 vehicles are acquired via our agreements each year, in addition to the complementary services needed to support the vehicles.
As for what type of fleets we cover – the answer is absolutely everything!
As you can imagine, our public sector fleets have a range of outputs required of their services: from vehicles that help deliver frontline emergency services, to, for example, a local government organisation who needs support on areas such as implementing staff benefit schemes. We’re incredibly proud to help keep all of them on the road.
What do you see as the greatest challenges facing public sector fleets over the next few years?
A challenge, but also a great opportunity, is the transition to ultra low emission vehicles and the charging infrastructure that will be required to support them. This will be especially important as our customers review their ways of working post-COVID and consider how this may impact their mobility strategies.
For specialist vehicle fleets, the shift to sustainable solutions will prove even more challenging and could require a full review of operational requirements and how they are delivered.
Funding will also be a key challenge, especially where extra investment is required to build the infrastructure that will facilitate the transition to ultra low emission vehicles. Highlighting the total cost of ownership and developing strong internal links with sustainability leads will be critical factors in getting buy-in from colleagues.
I’d also strongly recommend those with a responsibility for managing fleets ensure they keep up-to-date with funding and grant opportunities to maximise any support packages available.
How do you see the role of CCS fleet category evolving over the next, say, five years?
As we continue on our journey to Carbon Net Zero, and the challenges that the public sector fleet will have to face to meet the targets ahead of them, I believe we at CCS have two roles.
Firstly, to provide future-proofed and flexible routes to market for our customers – supporting aggregation and the standardisation of requirements where possible to drive the best commercial deals.
Secondly, we must provide advisory support to our customers. We will continue to take advantage of our market insight and supplier relationships in order to help our customers with their future mobility strategies.
We’re also focusing on strengthening links with government policy setters and the market. This will allow us to help shape and influence future direction, and ensure we can continue to develop strong, relevant commercial solutions.
What are the benefits for public sector fleets of using CCS’s Total Fleet Solutions?
Our Total Fleet Solutions are appropriate for customers regardless of the size of their fleet. We have customers with 1 vehicle through to those with more than 10,000 fleets – and all can expect to receive the same service from us. Indeed, we structure our products to ensure they offer a simple route to market irrespective of the size of the organisation using it or the complexity of their requirement.
To help customers gain a better understanding of available solutions we have structured our products and services into five groups: Acquire, Adapt, Manage, Maintain and Sustain. These groups provide a link between our supply chains and their product and service offerings, aligning them to the customer requirements throughout their fleet life cycle.
In light of ever-increasing importance of sustainability, our Total Fleet Solutions also provide a focus on the journey towards Carbon Net Zero. To help customers meet the challenges this brings, we can support them in understanding their current data, options to manage future demand and then to make the change.
How has the pandemic made your services more important?
Throughout the pandemic, the team has been a key source of information and support for our customers. We’ve strived to keep customers updated on any industry news or announcements – as well as discussing how it might affect them – while we’ve also updated customers on any service issues that may incur as a result of the pandemic.
We have also been working with key stakeholders, such as the Department for Health and Social Care, and our supply base, to support the delivery of mobile solutions for coronavirus testing. This has included the deployment of mobile testing units across the UK, trailer testing units for regional testing sites and the trial of mobile testing vans.
Needless to say, this has been a project we’ve been absolutely delighted to work on and hopefully bring our skills and knowledge to bear.
What sort of digital services do you offer?
A unique component of our Total Fleet Solutions is the digital Fleet Portal, which provides users with the ability to search all standard build vehicles available in the UK market.
The Portal generates quotes quickly and easily using the standard CCS framework discounts for the vehicles, in addition to providing real-time quoting competition from all of our leasing companies, bespoke to the individual customers’ lease term requirements.
The search functionality supports the customer to filter what is most important to them to identify the right vehicles. They can then compare them, side-by-side, with the quotes providing a full breakdown of costs.
We provide eAuction opportunities across the public sector in order to aggregate demand for vehicles of a standardised specification.
We have also recently enhanced our web pages on the CCS website. We felt it was important to bring together all of our framework news, market insight, case studies and blogs, in the hope the pages can be a ‘one-stop shop’, giving the public sector all the tools and information they need to keep their fleets on the road.
What will future developments bring?
Our fleet category strategies are ever evolving, informed by market developments, commercial value opportunities and our customers’ needs.
Thanks to our scale, industry relationships and category expertise, we are ideally positioned to ensure the public sector leads the way in the move to electrification and, a step beyond that, supporting a joined-up total mobility approach to all fleet and travel needs.
What is key is that our fleet offerings remain relevant and flexible, while ensuring the route to market via CCS is easy to use for both our customers and our supply base.