Companies with fewer than 100 vehicles might outnumber the bigger fleet operators by five to one, but too many are getting a raw deal from manufacturers. That’s the view of Toyota Fleet, which is working to prove that discrimination by fleet size is an outdated concept.
Toyota is the third largest manufacturer in the world and a major fleet player in the UK, supplying such leading companies as Barclays Bank, BT, Carillion (formerly Tarmac), Gardner Merchant, Granada and Scottish Power. But its philosophy is that every customer deserves the same degree of service, regardless of size. “Toyota embraces both big and small at every level,” says Toyota Fleet’s General Manager Mark Hall. “It produces volume cars such as the Corolla, yet it also makes individual cars like the MR2. And it builds big cars like the Land Cruiser Amazon and small cars like the Yaris.
“We pay equal care and attention to our high and low-volume cars, and to our large and small cars, so the same should be true for our customers. Where certain manufacturers tend to brush over smaller companies, we go out of our way to treat them exactly as we would those with 100-plus vehicle fleets. We start by spending time to find out exactly what they need and coming up with the right answers for them.”
Toyota Fleet was restructured this year to help it address the needs of all fleets from 25 vehicles up. Representatives of the Fleet Specialist Dealers bring their expertise to bear alongside Toyota’s own team of Fleet Managers. Highly trained in funding options, these executives specialise in smaller fleets.
Consequently Toyota is attracting many young companies for which good service is important. Web designer and Internet service provider Oneview.net started with 12 staff this year but is moving rapidly towards the big league, having already taken 70 Toyota Avensis and Yaris models.
The company wanted its fast-expanding team to drive cars in keeping with its professional and dynamic image. “We chose Toyota because it makes stylish vehicles and also has a bit of market thrust about it,” says Peter Conroy, Oneview.net’s Administration and Facilities Manager.
Image was also a factor in the decision of another rapidly expanding venture to choose Toyota. Leapfrog Day Nurseries needed safe, reliable and spacious transport for youngsters in its care and plans to open more than 70 day-care centres over the next three years, each with one or more Toyota Picnic seven-seaters. Long-established companies are feeling the benefits, too. Timber merchant Charles Manson Group wanted to reflect its reputation for reliability and service in its 50-car fleet, with whole life costs and specification vital considerations. Now it has turned to Toyota, selecting Avensis for its salesforce and Camry for managers.
“Toyota was able to provide a better spec at a lower price,” says Company Secretary Peter Burton. “Its reputation was also a key factor – Toyota always comes high on lists of good performers.” And reduced running costs and a positive reaction from drivers resulted when Direction International switched to Toyota and became the first fleet to include the Yaris. The company, which provides mechanical and electrical installations for buildings, runs 35 vehicles, now including 14 Toyota Avensis estates for its engineers. “Our main criteria were running costs, which had previously been very high, reliability, space and comfort,” said Ian Simpson, Group Technical Director.
“We’re well-placed to cater for such companies because we offer the widest range of vehicles and a solid reputation for competitive whole life costs and reliability,” says Toyota Fleet’s Mark Hall. “We invite smaller companies to take up our offer of a thorough audit of their fleet needs, and believe they’ll be impressed by the benefits we can provide.”