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New year, new approach

Date: 12 January 2018   |   Author: Debbie Wood

Volvo has introduced a new-look fleet team alongside the appointment of a new head of fleet, as the brand strives for market share growth in 2018.

Joining the premium brand in September last year, Steve Beattie replaced Selwyn Cooper as the firm's head of fleet, after working at Vauxhall for the past 12 years, most recently as national contract-hire and leasing manager.

Beattie is responsible for overseeing all of Volvo's fleet and corporate sales in the UK, and joins Volvo on the back of its best full-year sales result for 25 years. Shortly after joining the firm, it quickly became apparent to Beattie that Volvo wasn't on enough fleet choice lists and communication was a key issue, something that this new team structure, introduced on 1 January, is set to rectify. 

"As I started to understand a bit more about the team and looked into the data, it became clear that we needed to change the team to allow us to talk to more people, and speak to the variety of different fleets and companies that all have differing needs and requirements," Beattie tells BusinessCar. "Out of all the premium manufacturers, we're on the fewest policies, which simply says we're not talking to enough people."

There'll be one extra resource brought into the Volvo team and the rest of the existing team has been redeployed into other roles to enable the team to focus on the areas that matter. 

"We were doing everything, and now I want the team to focus on big fleets and small fleet markets, rather than the whole market," explains Beattie. "Success isn't making it on these policies, but understanding where we fit, and how we can compete and get market share. There are over 100,000 small businesses with six to 49 vehicles and we're just scratching the surface." 

There are now eight regional fleet sales managers within the team, who will be looking to grow business among fleets of 50 and more, as well as four regional business development managers whose job is to support the dealers, go out and see small business customers, and drive dealers to do the same. Alongside the new focus on growing true fleet business, there's also a leasing team that manages the key relationships with the leasing companies and a strategic partner manager who is responsible for public sector
and rental. 

Despite this focus and push to grow true fleet, Volvo is realistic about its sales targets in 2018 and admits sales growth will be a challenge. 

"The market is going to be down next year, so it may be a challenge to sell more cars, but we will be able to measure success by how many buying customers we now have. More true fleet sales will be key - and getting on choice lists," Beattie explains. "We've now reached a position where we're on a par with our premium competitors in our fleet and retail mix; the challenge now is to make sure the business is as pure as possible and we have some great opportunities in the 'real' company car market to grow our presence."

Alongside the team shake-up, Volvo has also opened an advanced new training and development centre in Daventry, which Beattie is hoping will play an important role in helping to further develop his team moving forwards. 

"The team need to grasp that there is no ceiling and we need to question everything; every customer is different, we've got to challenge the status quo and the new site here will help us to do that," he says. "Fleet roles are different too. Ultimately, it's all about making the team understand what the structure of their policy is. I don't think I've seen one fleet policy that is the same. I want my team questioning everything, it's not about the role these people are doing, it's about understanding the policy that they look after."

The £6-million investment at Daventry includes a 16-bay vehicle workshop, classrooms that feature video and web-based technologies and write-on walls, plus a large auditorium and a video studio. The opening of the new facility coincides with Volvo's announcement that it will recruit 300 new technicians to its retailer network by 2020.