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On course to improve

Fleet operators are set to benefit from further improvements in the way members of the FCA Group Business Centres will interact with them.

This follows the introduction of an all-new training programme aimed at further driving up the standard of care offered to customers.

Representatives from all of the fleet-focused UK sites recently took part in a two-day training event in Marlow led by the team from FCA Group headquarters in Slough and top fleet sector training specialist Alan Scott.

Simon Wheeler, the FCA Group fleet and business marketing manager, said: “Last year we slimmed down the Business Centre network to ensure that when we create opportunities at a national level and deliver enquiries into our fleet and business specialist, we have absolute confidence that our network partners will deliver a first class level of service.

“By the end of the year we plan to increase the volume of our centres but we have to ensure those we have and those that are joining us are the very best they can be.”

Wheeler said the restructured Business Centre network is now made up of the “best equipped” and “mostly highly-skilled” and said that there were still plans to expand further and double the number of sites as part of a geographically-mapped growth plan.

“The new programme got off to a great start in Marlow and we’re already looking well-placed to deliver on our plans,” added Wheeler.

The two-day FCA Business Centre training event, which took place on July 11 and 12, focused on:

n The need to keep fleet vehicles off the road for as little time as possible during servicing and maintenance work;

n Developing an understanding of legislative changes that affect the management of small and large fleets; and

n The networking and prospecting skills needed to develop new sales leads.

Wheeler said the FCA Group was encouraging its Business Centre teams to step back from the daily dealership routine and get out to meet potential customers and make use of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator platform to identify and engage with businesses online.

“A large part of the Business Centres’ challenge continues to be building awareness of the various brands and the range of needs that we can fulfil,” Wheeler said. “If our Business Centres can prospect the key decision-makers within a business and present that case then we have a real opportunity to find new business.”

As if to emphasise the importance of marketing the brands, the two-day training event was held at HPS Group, one of FCA’s key marketing partners.

Adding further emphasis to the importance of the event was the presence of the FCA Group head of fleet by dealer sales EMEA, Giorgio Vinciguerra, and Eugenia De Luca, its EMEA fleet and country business manager.

Also among the attendees was Colin Galvin, corporate business development manager at WLMG in Reading, who described the event as “an excellent two days”.

Victoria Rose, car and van fleet specialist at Jordon’s of Hull, said: “Just back from a pretty intensive two days in Marlow with great colleagues from FCA HQ and the dealer network.

“I’m up to the minute with exciting news, latest updates and I’m raring to go”.

While Wheeler conceded that the lack of an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) offering in the FCA Group stable did present immediate challenges in light of the changes to BIK tax recently announced by the Government, he added: “We have those products on the way now and that is another thing that we have to make potential fleet customers aware of.

“At the moment we have to cater for the fleet market as it is today and we offer some of the best diesel vehicles available. If you have drivers that are covering large distances on a regular basis diesel is still the best solution.”

Among the resources made available by FCA to help its retailers in their bid to attract fleet custom – beyond an encouragement to make use of business-focused social media – is a P11D calculator which can be integrated into their websites.

But while online tools are important, it is clear that the FCA Group acknowledges the need for its retailers to be able to offer comprehensive advice to fleet decision-makers at a time when huge changes in the sector might cause potential headaches.

David Yeats, FCA fleet and business centre programme manager, will ensure FCA’s retail partners remain up-to-date on the latest tax and legislation developments affecting the decisions of fleet customers.

Alan Scott, meanwhile, will continue to work the network to help support franchisees and maintain standards set at the Business Centre training event.

Wheeler said: “It’s important that we maintain the high standards of the network we currently have and I know that Alan Scott is the man to ensure that happens.

“Our intention is to grow the business centre network, but we don’t want to do that at breakneck speed. It’s important that our retailers have the skills and resources needed to offer the services our fleet customers expect. We have to maintain the momentum we have now, but do it in the right way.”