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YOUNG AT HEART: Changing service

Date: 01 September 2008

Tristan Young is Editor-in-chief of BusinessCar

Masterlease's decision to switch all its Ford servicing and repair needs to the manufacturer's network from independents is an interesting sign.

Given that 'cost is all' in the fleet arena, and that traditionally independent garages are significantly less expensive than the franchised network, Ford must have pulled out something special to clinch the Masterlease deal.

It might also be an indicator of how hard times are at the moment. If the car manufacturers can unlock the vast amount of servicing business lost to the independents from large fleets and leasing firms, this could bring in a new and welcome revenue stream.

If you're running a large enough fleet, maybe it's time to reinvestigate your SMR contract to see if the car makers' networks can beat your independent's prices.

Safety first

I'm surprised by Arval's decision this week to insist on anti-skid control be fitted wherever possible to all its internal fleet cars.

The surprise comes because they're the first and that no leasing company has yet insisted that all cars (where possible) ordered for its customers come with anti-skid control as standard.

After all, anti-skid control, or ESP, offers huge cost savings by cutting accident rates, and the leasing companies are large enough to insist that car makers include the safety kit without increasing prices.

Given the competitive and mature nature of the leasing industry, which company will be first to do this?