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THERE is a growing trend to outsource responsibility for company fleet services to specialist procurement companies when acquiring fleet services.

While this can ease the pressure on time as well as saving money, be careful who you choose: Some may walk away and sub-contract to typical industry suppliers.

Tony Donnelly, chief executive of Goodwood Corporate Mobility, parent company of FleetLocum, said: “Procurement companies will claim to be experts in fleet – or in any field in which they are purchasing – but all they are good at is running a request for proposal on behalf of a business interested in procuring vehicles or a service to potential suppliers to submit their proposals.

“They then hold a ‘beauty parade’ of potential suppliers and a contract is awarded to an individual supplier usually based on price.”

FleetLocum is expanding in the UK having provided organisations on the continent with experienced fleet and mobility decision-makers on a temporary or interim basis. The company has a bank of fleet managers to provide clear advice and leadership to SMEs and major corporate, public and voluntary sector fleets.

Donnelly added: “Fleet procurement is hugely complex. Price is a factor in every procurement process, but it is far from the only one in fleet and should not dominate at the expenses of other vital quality and service issues that are critical if vehicle operating excellence is to be achieved over the life-time of a contract.”

He said that some specialist procurement companies view fleet as yet another commodity that they are purchasing. As a result, their focus is on securing the best price.

“Such an approach is far too simplistic in fleet and shows a complete lack of understanding as to what is being procured, how service will manifest itself during the in-life period and how costs, real and hidden, will potentially rise during the contract period.”

When procuring vehicles and fleet services, Donnelly said it is business-critical that, even if using a specialist procurement company or the tender process is being overseen by an in-house procurement department, fleet decision-makers should take a step back and clearly identify their requirements and establish the criteria before being involved in the whole decision-making process.

“If a business has previously outsourced the fleet function or it is managed in-house by in-experienced decision-makers it is vital that a business engages with a specialist fleet organisation to manage and control the procurement process.” 

Donnelly said that FleetLocum “holds the hand” of the business it works for and overseesthe procurement process through its entirety and that business relationship can continue throughout the life of the contract.

He added: “Businesses must ensure that they are absolutely in the driving seat when specifying vehicles and fleet services and thereby fully engaged in the procurement process.”