A good point of contact at the end of a contract

A good point of contact at the end of a contract

For the leasing sector, the end of contract process is a vital part of winning the customer retention battle. Gerry Keaney of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association explains why.

Most successful companies have a good strategy for winning new clients, but they also understand that the goodbye is just as important as the hello when it comes to delivering great customer service.

For the vehicle leasing sector, the end of contract process is a vital part of winning the customer retention battle. How a leasing company handles it can provide some very positive word of mouth marketing, or see a brand named and shamed on social media.

The issue of end of contract damage and charges are an emotive topic.

Many of the issues that do arise are the result of poor communication or misunderstanding. This is why the end of contract process, the communications around it and any problems that can arise, are at the heart of the BVRLA’s mandatory Code of Conduct. This has been revised and updated for 2016 and backed up with a strengthened governance regime and our dispute resolution service, which is now government-accredited.

This provides customers with some additional peace of mind when they lease from a BVRLA member. In addition, I would urge all fleets to bear the following in mind when leasing a vehicle.

The end of contract inspection can involve one or two inspections and the standards for these are laid out in the BVRLA Code of Conduct. Whether a full return appraisal is carried out upon collection from the driver or a two-stage approach sees an initial inspection followed up by a more thorough review, the customer should know what to expect. These assessments will be made to the BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear standard or any other return conditions that the leasing company and customer have agreed to and will be carried out by highly-trained, professional staff.

‘Clean bill of health’
Friendliness and courtesy can be expected, but should not be confused with a vehicle being given a verbal ‘clean bill of health’. Leasing companies often outsource this process to an auction company, and I am sure that NAMA would strongly refute any accusations that its members were colluding with BVRLA members to apply unfair damage charges.

Damage charges and repair costs can vary according to the make of vehicle or regional labour rates.

Some leasing companies will provide a matrix of charges in advance while others will price each piece of damage individually. Similarly, some leasing companies will agree to share any profit from a car that is sold above its forecast used value. These are commercial decisions and customers are free to choose their supplier accordingly. Competition watchdogs would take a very dim view if the BVRLA attempted to set industry-wide standards or charges in this area. It is also worth remembering that customers always have the opportunity to make their own repairs before returning their vehicle, provided these are done to an appropriate professional standard.

The BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear Standard was developed by the leasing industry for its customers, to provide them with a clear understanding of what is expected. Fair wear and tear should not be confused with damage, which occurs as a result of a specific event or series of events, such as an accidental impact, harsh treatment or negligence. The BVRLA regularly updates its Fair Wear and Tear Standards for cars, vans and HGVs. We do this in conjunction with a panel of members and independent market experts. Fleet customers have been involved in this process in the past and in the last twelve months we have debated these and other issues alongside ACFO representatives and leasing customers, in conjunction with Fleet News.

BVRLA membership is at a ten-year high, and the corporate car and van leasing fleet operated by these companies grew 11 per cent to 2.5 million vehicles in 2015. These are the hallmarks of a healthy sector that is delivering a valuable service and isn’t taking its customers for granted.

As the industry grows, it is even more important for us to continue sharing best practice while ensuring a constant and transparent dialogue with our clients. We believe that these steps will see the BVRLA logo become even more of a quality benchmark for vehicle leasing.

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