Toyota Fleet starts the New Year with a major initiative for managers of fleets of fewer than 100 vehicles. It has appointed a dedicated team of 18 fleet specialists especially for this vital sector and to complement dealer sales efforts across the UK.
Until now, Toyota Fleet has largely relied on its 65 appointed Fleet Dealerships to serve the sub-100-vehicle fleet market, providing its own support in sales negotiations. This has made it difficult to reach potential customers in all parts of the country and to penetrate the market in depth.
The new Fleet Business Development team members will approach fleet managers with expert help in exploring solutions to any problems they might have. They will not negotiate sales directly and local dealerships, whether fleet specialists or not, will be called in only if the prospective client wishes to proceed.
The specially recruited team, under the direction of National Fleet Development Manager Michael Cole, consists of 15 Area Managers, two Regional Managers and one National Manager, plus three administrators. The move reflects Toyota Fleet’s philosophy that sub-100 fleets, of which there are more than five times as many as the bigger national fleets, should be treated with the same degree of care and respect.
“Sub-100 fleets have their own special requirements and this is a unique approach to finding solutions to their needs,” says Michael Cole.
“Our managers’ brief is to raise awareness of the benefits of Toyota Fleet – its breadth of range, vehicle reliability, the comprehensiveness of our tender proposals and all round professionalism. Most importantly, they can offer suggestions on how to make fleet operations more cost-effective.” As independent car-cost specialist Emmox puts it: “In overall terms Toyota offers a very effective whole-life cost proposition.”
The Toyota Fleet managers can provide interactive presentations; whole-life cost comparisons and information on funding methods, carry out fleet appraisals and arrange demonstrations as required. If a customer wishes to consult a dealer, the area manager will remain involved with the discussions in the role of account manager.
St Leonards Motors of Bexhill is one of the 70 per cent of Toyota dealers that does not specialise in fleet business. Its Dealer Principal Ian Wakeford is also Chairman of the National Dealer Council.
“So many different schemes for attacking the 25-100 vehicle sector have bitten the dust, but this one will provide great benefits across the country,” he says. “The fleet market is very specialised, and while those dealers who have invested in serving it can do well, those without the resources have suffered by comparison.
“With this new scheme business users will enjoy greater coverage, helped by people with specialist skills. Toyota Fleet has very cleverly evened out the balance by placing common resources across the entire dealer network.
“It will be up to all the dealers to run with it and make sure they win the business. It’s a brave move, but everybody wins in the end.”
Jemca is one of the biggest Toyota dealers in the UK and Europe, and as a Fleet Dealer already does much corporate business. “This is extremely good news,” says its General Manager Nick Martin. “Jemca is fortunate in having a big local market to tackle in North London, but this is a good idea which can only help all Toyota dealerships.
“Developing this market is very much about team effort between manufacturers and dealers. We already work very closely with Toyota Fleet and see this as an extension of our team. I have been kept informed throughout the development and have been very impressed by Toyota’s approach.”
The move effectively doubles overnight Toyota Fleet’s sales force, which has also been strengthened in other areas. The number of Regional Fleet Sales Managers is increased from five to seven, and a new Contract Hire & Leasing Sales Manager brings the strength in that department to three.
“Sending out brochures isn’t enough – we want the chance to sit down with managers who might be unaware of the full advantages of running a Toyota fleet,” says Toyota Fleet’s General Manager Mark Hall. “We have a great deal to tell them and the situation is developing all the time – after all, Toyota has no fewer than seven model launches coming up in 2000.”