We talk to TrustFord’s Fleet and CV Director, Mark Wilkie, and discuss the lessons learned from driving the ‘Transit Centre’ initiative through the 64-strong network.
Mark took over the Fleet and CV role in November 2014 after originally joining the Ford-owned group as a General Manager for a Yorkshire dealership. The rebranding of the Dagenham Motors, Polar and Lindseys Ford-owned businesses were already under way, but Mark has overseen many of the changes necessary to pull together some 64 sites into a cohesive force for fleet and CV sales.
Importantly for the commercial vehicle segment, TrustFord invested heavily in the Transit Centres concept, with some fourteen sales and service points, and ten service only.
The latest network development was the Dagenham site as a purpose-built, standalone Transit Centre. This demonstrates the effectiveness of dedicated light commercial vehicle sites which has been proven by Volkswagen, and is being implemented by Mercedes-Benz and Ford too.
One side effect of the introduction of the Transit Centres is in recruitment. According to Wilkie, commercial vehicle sales now appeals to people who were previously involved in cars.
It is in fleet sales where TrustFord has achieved the greatest successes. Over 40% of TrustFord’s 108,000 annual vehicle sales is made up of fleet business. 2015 saw fleet sales up by 20% and commercial vehicle sales up by 30%. This success means that in 2015, 20% of Ford’s total UK commercial vehicle sales went through TrustFord.
Much of this success can be put down to Mark Wilkie. At the start of his tenure he consulted with the leasing companies where TrustFord were already preferred suppliers. As a result, a ‘hub and spoke’ operation was conceived, with a central team of six people and supported by the dealerships at a local level.
This centralisation means that the delivery of the service across the UK can be kept at a consistent level.
With increasing new van sales volumes, improvements have to be made in aftersales to ensure that waiting times for servicing and repairs improve not suffer. Recent changes see TrustFord’s large London sites opening 24 hours for servicing, whilst many others have adopted ‘Twilight Servicing’ offers from Mondays to Thursdays. This enables heavily converted vans to be serviced overnight, and the driver simply takes a small courtesy car home for one night rather than having to lend a replacement van which is of little or no use.
Mobile servicing has been introduced, with eight vans working inside the M25. This enables standard maintenance and warranty work to be carried out more conveniently for the fleet operator, reducing their downtime and giving the dealerships more space to service other vehicles. Plans are under way to expand this initiative to Birmingham, Bristol and the North West.
With the combination of extended opening hours and mobile servicing, Wilkie plans for each fleet customer to have a bespoke service level agreement for aftersales service. He says, “We can’t have a one solution fits all any more, we need a selection of options for fleet customers.”